As I mentioned earlier, Corey and I finally sat down together to look at our financial landscape. It was much less involved and daunting than I imagined it to be. I feel more informed about how we are actually doing and what changes we want to make to improve our financial landscape.
We brainstormed on several ways we could reduce our monthly costs as a family. One of them was our coffee discussion. We still don't have a conclusion on that topic. However, Corey has reduced his morning coffee intake and has switched over to tea most mornings. That reduces our cost by quite a bit. (He did this voluntarily. With the sudden chill in the weather lately, he has felt more inclined to drinking tea.)
Another area where we could reduce monthly cost is in gas. I don't know when it happened exactly, but at some point during the summer, Corey and I switched cars. He had driven our Hyundai Santa Fe since we bought it in 2010, and I drove our Prius. But I think the need for all the swimming gear, stroller and diaper bag, and occasionally picking up someone else's child, the extra room in the Santa Fe was more suited for me and my kid-carting. Now that school is in session, I mostly just drive my two children around; there is very little need for extra room in the back. Since I do most of the running around, picking up the kids, driving to work, (Corey works from home), and running errands, the Santa Fe was guzzling gas compared to the Prius. So, after a simple re-switching of cars, we are now saving at least $20.00 in gas each month. It's a small savings, but it adds up over time.
The last place we talked about saving money was in the food arena. We agreed that any and ALL eating out would be strictly Fun Dollars funded. (For the time being) no more budgeting for eating out, not even every other week, like we had been doing. That decision alone has saved us $70.00 (projected) this month.
We also modified our grocery shopping. We started making weekly meal plans again, which gives us a map of what to buy. We stick to it, and get very few things that are "extra". We might get a box of graham crackers for the kids, or popcorn, but for the most part, we make our own snacks, like a fruit or veggie tray. (The kids love it because it's a bunch of colorful finger foods they can pick and choose.) We also started our shopping trip each week at Basha's instead of only just going to Safeway. By purchasing our fresh produce at Basha's and supplementing meats and dry goods at Safeway we have saved and average of $30.00 each week for three weeks so far! That's $120.00 each month!
So, by being better informed and having a (calm) discussion about where we can pinch our pennies, we are now saving close to $200.00 each month.
In celebration, we took the family out to eat at Golden Dragon after church a week ago. My half was $12.00. At the end of the week, when our grocery stock was low (and nobody wanted to cook before going grocery shopping), Corey offered to buy the whole family lunch at Golden Dragon again this Sunday :) Hooray for sharing, generosity, and sticking to the family budget!
Lunch at the Golden Dragon- $12.00
Balance this pay cycle- $42.00