In the process of considering buying a house (and yes, even the considering part is turning into a process) Handsome and I have been looking at our budget and trying to do some trimming.
Now, in case you wonder what a budget is, I would like to direct you to Mint.com. Mint.com is a free online budgeting tool that, once you link up your bank accounts & credit cards, will track your spending for you, catergorizing things as you wish. You can set budgets and goals for savings. Mint also has offers (I’m guessing they’re paid to put them on there, ergo making it free for you to use) for financial institutions and services that they recommend for you, based on your spending & banking habits.
I find this website to be EXTREMELY helpful. Also, I’m a nerd, and I like to go in and tweak the budgets and plan and dream and set goals and then delete them. You don’t have to go that far, but in case you’re not sure where your paycheck is going, this is a way to find out with minimal effort on your part. For all of you non-math types out there, it does all of the subtracting for you! You don’t have to even pull up the calculator on your computer. ChaChing! That’s a jackpot, ladies and gentlemen.
So, we’ve used Mint.com to track the moola that H. & I bring in each month, and also to see where it goes. We’re looking at all of this, trying to figure out where we can cut and how much, trying to see how much room we have in our budget for things like a mortgage and homeowners insurance and cans of paint. Truth is, there’s not a whole lot of room.
Enter THE CHALLENGE (challenge… challenge… challenge…).
Handsome bet me that I can’t cut our grocery bill in half. And at first I agreed with him. Not because I’m convinced that I can’t, but because I don’t want to. See, I like food (as you well know) and I like to try new recipes, and to bake a lot of unnecessary things. And all of that would be greatly minimized if I wasn’t allowed to spend my $400 a month on groceries.
ASIDE: I was debating on baring that number on here, but so many of you answered the quiz questions, that it gave me courage.
Now, I don’t know that I can actually get down to $200. That seems… close. If we both ate from the dollar menu every night, we could probably manage, but we’d be supersized, and probably more-than-slightly sick. So we’ve set some ground rules, that the one thing we won’t sacrifice is health. That means we’re still going to have a lot of fruits and vegetables, but I’m probably going to really search out the cheapest place to buy them. And I might check out the few Discount Grocery/Thrift stores around here.
Yes, you heard me, Discount Grocer/Thrift stores. That’s right. You can buy expired tomato sauce and a 70 lb. microwave oven that may or may not have its glass plate, all in a one stop shop. Truthfully, I don’t know what they sell in those stores because I’ve been afraid to go inside of them. But no more! Now, I am fearless, because I HAVE A CHALLENGE TO WIN! So I’m going to check those places out and try to be strategic without going all overboard-champion-coupon-y on you.
ASIDE: Want to know my theory on what happens to those people on that couponing show, after they’re done for the season? Have you grown attached to them, do you begin to miss them? Well, have no fear! I am certain you will see some of them again, next time on Hoarders. Seriously, if that’s not hoarding, I don’t know what is. I have vowed (and have someone holding me accountable) that I will never have more than 3 jars of peanut butter (per type, I mean, If you’ve got 2 honey, 1 crunchy, a low-fat and a regular creamy, that’s okay) in my house. Any more is just excessive. Anybody remember those “starving children in china” your parents always told you about? Anyone?
So, our new fiscal year begins on July first, for the Magagnotti household. We’re going big so we can have a home. If I can get down to $300 per month with groceries, even that would be cool. So that’s my initial goal.
If you’d like to help, please suggest some cheap, healthy dinners in the comment section. I’ve got a list here of things we’ve already thought of, but I’m open to other options, as long as there are no beans. I don’t like beans. Can’t handle it. Fish is okay, because I’ll just eat chicken and feed the fish to Handsome. But no beans. They’re tricky, and often hide in with the other food, so even if you try to pick them out, you end up eating one. And then you lose your appetite for the entire meal. Or maybe that’s just me.
2 picky 4 beans,