Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bugdet: Allowances (for adults)

 When my husband and I were running our businesses (before he became disabled) we found it difficult to set up a budget. I tried to keep most of our bills as low as I could but because we were self-employed our income varied from month to month making it difficult to budget. But, since he became disabled our income is pretty much fixed. One benefit is that I know how much is coming in each month and can budget accordingly.

The best advice I received concerning a budget is to assign an allowance for both husband and wife. We would have saved ourselves a lot of fussing in the early years of our marriage if we had followed this advice.

I've allowed $40 a month in the budget for each of us. We both love having an allowance because:

- An allowance allows us to buy something special.
- An allowance helps us not feel deprived from a restrictive budget. (we're spoiled Americans!)
- We can save our allowance for bigger purchases that could not otherwise be afforded.

This past week I spent my $20 allowance on a haircut. I've been cutting my own hair and imposing on friends and family to give it a whack for nearly 2 years. It was long overdue for an even trim. I've also used my allowance to spend extra on the grands birthday gifts, purchase new clothing and a 'girls day out'.

An allowance cuts down on the temptation to argue over money. When one spouse thinks a decision to spend money in a certain area cannot be afforded then an allowance could be used.

An allowance is not just for kids! :-) 

I'm thankful for my allowance!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Use it up!

Time to fess up! I went off my food budget this past month. After 1 1/2 years of counting every penny to stay within $200 a month I let loose after the news came that my husband had received permanent disability. So... now that I've had my fun it's back on budget again.

I considered raising our food budget to $300 a month to add more fruit and veggies to our diet (and I still may). But, for the time being I decided to continue trying to keep it under $200 as long as I can provide healthy meals. I figure if I shoot for $200 and go over just a bit I'll still be ahead of the game.

My goal this next week is to not buy any groceries. Instead I'm going to shop from my pantry, fridge and freezer. I have 2 fridges with freezers and both are very full which means that I have been over buying. Tomorrow I will go through my freezer meats to plan my weekly menu. Food has a feature where you can plug in the ingredients you have on hand and it will display recipes you could use. Look next to the search engine at the top of the page where it has a drop down menu and choose 'ingredients'. This tool helps when you are shopping from your pantry and fridge.

I'm also concentrating on leftovers because I have been wasting food which is the same as throwing money away. They seem to get pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten until the following week when I clean out the fridge.  I had some canned chilies left over from a Chile Rellenos casserole I made earlier in the week. I decided to keep them in plain view so they wouldn't get lost in the fridge. I added some to the low carb chicken enchiladas I made today and then made another Chile Rellenos casserole for lunch or breakfast. Boy, did I stretch those babies. :-)

 This week I tried a broccoli stuffed chicken recipe. The recipe sounded so good but flunked my husband's taste test. I didn't want to throw away the remaining chicken  so I scraped off the stuffing and reused the chicken in the enchiladas. I was able to save the chicken and stretch it into another meal. Kewl! :-)

I know I can do better at stretching my food budget if I stay on top of the food I bring into my home by not allowing it to go to waste. That involves concentrated effort.