Budgeting... #$@!?

For most of us, the month of May is when we take care of the things we neglected during the winter season. We put away our winter gear and take out the summer and thoroughly clean our houses because in a month from now or so there won’t be any time for that again!

Since you will have more time on your hands you may want to consider keeping track of your expenses for a couple of months and see how you can “tweak” them a little to be able to afford some new gear, to travel or to achieve the financial goals that matter to you the most.

First you need to gather the receipts from all your purchases and the bills you have paid during the month. I kept a folder on the kitchen counter and my husband and I put all of these in it. At the end of the every week or the month, either on spreadsheet or manually add up your income and your expenses and you will find out how much money you have left or not.

I recommend you differentiate your fixed expenses from your variable or discretionary ones. The fixed expenses are the ones that are usually the same every month such as your mortgage, car payment, home insurance, auto insurance and utilities. Variables expenses are the ones that you have more control over, such as groceries, entertainment, eating-out, clothing and gifts.

Now is the time to make adjustments to these expenses, that is reduce them. For fixed expenses you may consider cancelling your cable/satellite for the summer, do you really need caller id, call-waiting and voice mail services from your telephone provider, lower your thermostat during the night, turn off the lights and radio when your not home, etc.

For variable expenses … Review your cell phone plan and maybe consider a Pay as You Go plan, it includes call display and voicemail, which is usually an additional $8 to $10 per month on a typical plan. Do you look at the weekly flyers for the specials before going to the grocery store? Do you prepare a list and plan your meals? Do you buy a whole chicken or chicken breast with skin and bone instead of boneless skinless to save money.? If you buy a whole chicken you can make a chicken stock from it instead of buying it. The more the food is prepared or packaged the more you pay for it. Don’t throw out your ripe bananas or other fruits; use them to make muffins for example. You have left-overs in the fridge at the end of the week such as half of a chicken breast, half of a pepper and so on, use them. We have pizza every Friday night at our house and have come up with some tasty ones using our left-overs. Don’t stock-up on beer and wine because you will end up drinking it during the week, buy what you need only for the weekend! You will save money and be healthier too! The list of suggestions is endless.

While your enjoying your leisurely mornings on the weekends since you no longer need to be at the ski hill for 9 am, Google budgeting tips and tools and I am sure you will find some suggestions that will suit you!

Note: Review your bank statement to make sure you didn’t forget anything. Also, add up the receipts from your cash purchases and compare them to your cash withdrawals, the amounts should be fairly close.