Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Experiment

We're trying something new this time around. Instead of spending our paycheck until we run out, we're going to calculate our expenses and allot money for certain purposes. For instance, the spending money and grocery budget will be withdrawn in cash at the beginning of the pay period, instead of just whipping out the debit card at the sight of something shiny. You've probably read all the same books and articles I have and gleaned the same 95 theses of money saving. In no particular order, here are some favorites.
- Plan your meals for the week. Cook at home, don't eat out. Plan your meal menu around what your family will actually eat. It's not savings if it rots in the crisper drawer. Shop the store circulars and incorporate good deals into your meal plan. I try to buy and extra meal or so a week, so I'll have something on hand, leaving me extra options midweek and in the future. Use coupons for products that you already buy and use. It's not savings if you don't actually need it.
- Save 10% of your income each paycheck. If you have it direct deposited into a savings account, chances are you won't even miss it, and that's a tidy sum when the time comes.
- Use credit cards wisely. Don't close all your accounts at once, but don't cut up all your cards and never use them, either. The first will ding your credit score and the second will rack up inactivity fees.
All this information (and much much more) is out there if you are looking for it, but what does it really feel like, really mean to live on less than you earn? Can it be done in a one income, one car, two child household? We are staking a claim in this frontier of adulthood and asking you to come along for the ride. We don't have all the answers. We have a plan, that we suspect will be taking in some alterations. We have some goals that need fleshing out. We have an idea what a fiscally sound, reasonable life looks like, and it seems to be possible from where we are. But can we actually, in the trenches, day to day, actually get it done?

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