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At the moment I have turned my mind towards tightening our budget. I think it is because of all the news coverage about the current financial climate. I really feel for small businesses who are the first to suffer when there is less work around for people. It is okay for us to say we will cut out non-essentials like coffees, magazines, restaurant meals etc - but what if you are the owner of the restaurant, coffee shop or news agent who has to put food on your table. It really is hard, because the truth is, that in difficult times it becomes a case of 'everyman for themselves', meaning, if I don't have extra money to spend I am not going to eat at your cafe. The good thing is that the economy works in cycles, we just need to ride out this downturn.
So if I can't help you by spending money at your cafe, the only thing I can do is, as I have said before, swap you spinach for eggs, or jam for beans. This is the great Australian way - swapping the pickles over the back fence. We just need to re-establish these traditions.
I have just re-done our family budget again. Partly because I want to reduce it and partly because it changes every season because of changes to our entertainment and eating habits.
As my regular readers know I am an envelope girl. I have little bags for each area where money is required and withdraw the correct denominations of cash each week. Recently I have changed this from plastic bags to a little mini accordion file with labelled compartments.
I include not only amounts that I know we spend each week like food, fuel, entertainment but also include seasonal categories like clothing, holidays, Christmas birthdays. Whenever we need something I just go to that category and pull out the cash. This really works for us and it gives me tremendous joy knowing that we always have the money there for things that we need or if we want to go and do something as a family. There are from time to time expenses that I haven't thought of but because I have been doing it for many years I have it pretty well worked out.
Hubbie needed new shoes today ( I have begged him for weeks to replace his ones that were just about needing sticky tape!) and he was able to go and get the cash out of the folder. Number One son has a birthday party to go to on Saturday and I know that there is money there for a present. If the kids bring home a school excursion note or we want to hire a movie or go out for tea, the money is there. We don't have to worry about the guilt of knowing that we can't afford it but stick it on the credit card anyway to worry about "later".
We now allocate $365 per week, down from $449. The categories are:
This is separate to the amount I have for bills and savings. I always take savings out first and have a bills amount worked out by adding them all up over the year and dividing by 52.
The kids pocket money is $5 per week. They use it to buy treats and save up for things.
The sanity money is $10 each that Hubbie and I have that we just blow or save or whatever we feel like. I allocate $150 per week for groceries but never spend that much. I usually spend under $100. I collect the extra money and blow it in holiday times or when we have visitors or at Christmas time etc. Sometimes I have to buy things out of that amount if they breakdown, like a toaster or something.
I love having Christmas already paid for. I love having our yearly resort holiday already paid for. There is great peace.
Having cash on hand is extremely powerful. I love the concept of poverty by choice. I like shopping knowing that I have a set amount in my pocket. It makes me really consider each purchase.
Are you a cash person ? Or do you have some other fabulous way of staying within your budget ? Do share !