I’ve never been a budget person, let alone a numbers and maths person. I’ve always had the opinion of money comes and goes and not to take it so seriously. I have a strong passion against hating how much money controls the world and our lives to some degree, so I’ve never wanted to take it seriously. This was until I seen on the bank app my categorized spending and thought I’d have a look. Stupidly, I was funding the money controllers without even knowing it!
To say I was stunned is an understatement. I could have cried, I probably held my breath at the sight of what I was seeing, my eyes would have near popped out of my head. And this was just my reaction based on what we were spending for the month on groceries. The next worse was our eating out! After a good 20 minutes or more of coming to terms with what I had just discovered and taking to my instagram story to chat with other households, I went to tell my husband, and again the shock horror was written all over his face. Our averages for a month on groceries were $1800! Yep, I know! What a ridiculous thing to let happen! And our eating out didn’t really have an average, but for one month was $450, another month $200. So it was up and down.
We would do our grocery shop for the fortnight, but always end up back in Coles for extra ingredients I wouldn’t have for dinner, topping up milk, bread and purchasing any extra specials or temptations. Buying the boys a match box car as a treat for behaving whilst Mummy tries to get groceries done with kids in tow. Bit by bit it was all adding up to this ludicrous amount of money and we had no idea – even though we knew we were at Coles basically daily! Stupidity at it’s finest. There were weeks that would go by and we would question where all the money had gone but would always say to each other “But we’ve only been to Coles”, so that was ok. Stupidly we never thought to go “hang on a minute, we have to be spending too much on food!”.
After the shock had settled to a point we could actually think straight, I checked my instagram messages to find so much support, ideas and tips on how to get this over spending under control! Budgeting to me was a new thing, I was like a fish out of water, how do you actually make a budget plan? Where do I start? What do I do? I had help from some good friends and my followers on how to go about it which I want to share with you, so you too can get on top of any nasty habits that include budgeting!
We were recommended to meal plan! To me, at first I thought how is meal planning going to save me so much money at the check out when I still need to buy all these ingredients. As if planning meals ahead for the week can achieve such a savings. Well, it does. Like holy shit it does! I made up a planner on the computer (click here to print!) and took it the newsagent to laminate, that way I can use a whiteboard marker to write on my planner and rub it off at the end of my pay week. Every Wednesday I get out my cook books, write down the weeks meals on my planner and then I will write all ingredients onto my laminated shopping list (click here to print). I also make sure I add on my shopping list any school snacks, lunches etc that we require for the week or any items we have run out of and I make sure I only buy what is on my shopping list! There is also a section on my meal planner for lunch and snacks so the kids always know their options rather than standing there with the doors open wondering what to eat! Knowing what we are having for meals and being prepared also saves those nasty last minute take away runs! We still allow for take away or eat out nights – more on that as we go on!
One for those kiddy snackers – don’t give the free range of the biscuit jar or the shapes box. We give the boys a bowl and they get what they get, then that’s enough. No more excessive eating which makes the biscuits etc last longer!
I’ve always been an old school kinda gal. I’m a visual person too. I like to see things in person. I didn’t see all the harm in taking the time to go to the grocery store to get the groceries. I could compare labels, specials and see whats going in my trolley. Well that obviously wasn’t working for me haha! I was told time and time again by my followers – SHOP ONLINE!!! So there was little old me, signing up for an online shopping account. My first experience was a nightmare due to website malfunctions but at last, I had done my first online shop. I opted for the click and collect option as Mann was all for saving money on delivery fees which would approx total over $500 if done every week at $10 per delivery for a year! That’s a good caravan trip for us! But after a couple of click and collect shops, I noticed I could opt for delivery and when spending over $150 and selecting a 2pm-10pm time slot I could get free delivery! Plus I could select to not have my groceries bagged! So I’ve been taking advantage of the delivery option for weeks now. The driver brings all the groceries into the kitchen and unpacks them, ready for me to pack away! I just make sure my Thursday on my meal planner accounts for the following Thursday so that way I’ve got my dinner ingredients incase the groceries come late. Works well for us.
Combining online shopping and meal planning together has seen us go from $450 per week on groceries down to an average of $180 per week! THAT’S A HUGE SAVING!
We had numerous people recommend the book Barefoot Investor to us which is said to be the only money guide you’ll ever need! We were advised to follow the book and to also take what you can from it. For us, we’ve taken what we can from it and implemented what works for us into our lives. Some of the key ones were negotiating insurance policies for better rates and adjusting premiums, swapping banks to save on bank fees and to gain better interest rates, having set bank accounts for certain spending and savings, ideas on kids banking, shares and more. While we’ve taken from it what we can right now, there are things in there that we want to implement into our lives in the future once the time is right, so it absolutely is a book worth owning! One key point for us is when the “spend” account runs out, it runs out! Same goes for groceries (except for milk, bread, fruit and eggs. We made those our must haves.) There’s no topping it up! Which for us as a family running our own business and working from home was all too easy to do as we didn’t have our work accounts set up to work best for us. We would have funds go in automatically all the time once they’d clear from payment sources, so I put a stop to that and went in and found I could choose set days for the money to clear into our accounts rather that having it basically every second day! Having deposits of money clear into your account every few days really does give you that sense of “Oh there’s money there spend it!” knowing too well in a few days there will be more. So setting this up for our accounts has been SO much better. We now have a dedicated pay day which we haven’t had in years!
Go back to when Mannie use to a lot of FIFO work years ago, I would always be in charge of paying our bills and I’d always pay extra to bills so we wouldn’t have such big bills to pay when they came in. When FIFO stopped and we started the business together, money changed. Paying bills in advance stopped while the strings tightened and it was a habit I never got myself back into. Since starting to budget, I’ve been paying all bills in advance again and some bills will come in at $0 owed because we are now on top of our bills! It’s such a good feeling!
Grabbing take away is all too easy these days when you’re not prepared for dinner time or don’t feel like cooking. Budgeting can seem all “tight assy” but it really doesn’t have to be. Just because you’re budgeting doesn’t mean you have to miss out on things you enjoy which for all of us has to be enjoying a meal out. Who doesn’t love having someone else cook for you? My best tip is to work it in with your meal plan! Make an “eat out” night! Or schedule in a take away night. Allow your budget to work with it and allocate money to it. A big tip when eating out for us is – go for the table water! We aren’t big juice or soft drink drinkers so this is easy enough for us. But get the kids drinking the table water – even you too. It can save you around $20 on your bill – obviously depending on what is ordered and how big your family is. But of course – mix it up every few weeks with a sneaky wine allowance! It can’t be all work and no play.
Know what’s a money sucker and what isn’t!
A way for the whole family to get involved with knowing how we can be more money and energy efficient in the home is only going to teach our kids the skills we may not have been taught as kids, or better, the ones we were taught! I know I was always being told to turn off light switches if I wasn’t in the room as a kid. If we can teach them a few handy tips that are easy enough to do around the home, they’ll make a habit of it and before long, they won’t even knowing they’re doing it. It’ll just happen naturally! To see our family list of energy efficient ideas (click here to print).