I'm rather shamed to admit this, but for the first time in my life my family has a formal budget to use. In the past, we always had ballpark ideas, but this year we have decided to be more formal about things.
In 2012, we are going to use our budget to manage our money and our spending. I have to say, I am feeling a little nervous about is. Having never done this before, I'm wondering how hard it is going to be, and if failure is looming off in the distance. We have determined how much we have to spend everything month, and have spread it out amongst our needs and expenses. I am using You Need a Budget to manage this. It is an electronic version of an envelope system. This means that we can still use our credit cards (which will be paid off in full each month) and get the benefits involved (i.e. 5% off at Target).
I will spare you most of the details of our budget, but I will discuss food. Anyone who knows us well, knows that we like to eat out. I've always known that this is an expense that we should try to limit, but... Well, it was just too easy to go out. As a vegetarian with a meat eating husband, it was easier to go out and please everyone than to plan out our meals for the week in a way that would please everyone. The plan is for that to change. Over the past couple weeks we have been really good, and I'm hoping that will continue.
Now, I will admit, that I probably fudged things a little and tried to start 2012 off with a clean slate. I'm not sure how legit this is, but I wanted to start off feeling like I was getting ahead of things, not falling behind before we even started.
We have budgeted $400 a month for our family of 4. This will include food, personal items, and non-prescription medications. It will also include eating out, as a family. If someone chooses to eat out when running errands without the rest of the family, it will come out of their own "mad money." Now, I will admit that every other week, we get a $45 box of organic produce that I work for, coordinate and distribute to other members of the group. As a result, I don't have to pay for my box.
As of today, we have $400 to spend on groceries and food for the rest of January. I hope to keep an ongoing tally of what we have spent and what we have left to spend.
Does anyone have any tips for me?