Thursday, February 25, 2016

Living on a budget

Where were you all year? Oh wait, it was me that was missing. I can't believe I didn't write a single post in 2015. It's been another, shall we say, interesting year... but aren't they all?

My husband and I were yet again the victims of a lay-off. This time was different though because it was only my husband that lost his job when the company he was working for tanked. The last 2 times we went through this we were both out of work, so this is actually an improvement. Anyway, seeing as we're now pros at this sort of thing (yay us?), I thought I'd share how we make it from day to day. If you've lost an income and need some money saving advice, or even if you have a job but you have no savings (start saving NOW, you never know when your world might turn upside down), this is for you. I'm not saying this is the only way to do things or that this method will work for everyone, but it works for us and it's at least a place where you can start thinking about what will work for you.


First piece of advice. Set up multiple bank accounts (we use 2 credit unions). We have 2 checking, 2 savings and 3 jars (yes, actual glass jars... they come free with pasta sauce and pickles!) Here is how we utilize them:
  • Checking account #1 is used for all of our bills. We know how much we have going out each month so we make sure there is ALWAYS enough to cover them in there. I was raised with the "bills come first and everything else comes after" mentality. (Thank you, mom and dad!) It's true. Do it. You can eat Top Ramen and carpool a ride to work, but those bills just keep coming. Don't get behind, it's hard to catch up.
  • Savings account #1 is tied to our checking account #1. Since we've been through this before we have learned to save in the good times. We actually have a healthy savings account, so we have that tied to our checking account #1 just in case something comes up and our account is short that month, we have overdraft from the savings account. (I also use this savings account for my schooling.)
  • Checking account #2 is for groceries, cat food, gas, entertainment, all the rest. Again, like with bills, groceries and gas come first and the rest is for playing with or rolling over to the next month. We spend about $100-$125 a week on groceries and, since my husband isn't working and we don't have to gas his car, about $25 a week on gas (we both have economical Hondas). The grocery bill includes toiletries: TP, paper towels, cleaners, etc. We are fortunate in that we have no children, so we can get off pretty cheap in those areas. I'll break down our grocery list in another post.
  • Savings account #2 is tied to checking account #2 and is for gifts, clothes, and big goals like vacations (hey, we can dream!) It's also for transferring money into checking account #2 if we fall short. Sadly, it's usually used for the latter, but we're happy to have it when we need it.
  • The 3 jars are for: pennies, silver and paper. We try to withdraw and use paper money when we can and any coins we get go into the jars. If we've taken a $20 out of the ATM and have a couple dollar bills left over at the end of the day, those go in the paper jar. Every once in a while we slip a $5, $10 or even $20 in there! Crazy, I know. lol. This can be used for just saving, or for going out to sushi or pizza once in a while, or grabbing a few bucks to treat yourself to a coffee on the weekend.
So, you may have read the line about us not having children and thought, well, they have it easy. No wonder they can make it. We do however, have a mountain of student loan debt from my husband's degree (which we are not deferring because we want to pay those bastards off as soon as we can) and I am currently going to school as well. We are able to pay for my schooling as I go because, since I work full time, I am only taking 1 class per semester. (But, have you seen the prices of books and their new "companion codes" lately!?! Ouch!)

Again, this isn't a "this works for us, so it will work for you" post. It's merely a "this is what works for us, maybe there are some things in here that will work for you too" post. I hope it inspires you to come up with some ideas of your own, start a savings account if you don't already have one, and think about what you would do if you ever found yourself in an unemployed situation. It happens. And it sucks. But keep your chin up and keep on keepin' on.

Leave me a comment with some of your own money savings tips. I'd love to get even more ideas!


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