Friday, July 15, 2016

five on friday: budgeting edition

Since I've been on a budgeting roll the past few days, I figured I'd extend it into Friday with five other ways we have been working our budget to save money.

{1} Costco gas. This is hands down where we achieve the biggest savings on our Costco membership. We are fortunate that we have a Costco within 10 minutes of us and we have noticed the gas price there is consistently $0.20-$0.30 less per gallon than other gas stations in our area. For my 12-gallon tank alone we easily save around $10 per month on just my car by filling up at Costco. Include the van and that number is closer to $15-20. Total yearly savings = around $180.

{image source} Snagged this for Edith's birthday on Amazon Prime Day for $15 off
{2} Gift budgeting. We decided to try budgeting $100 for gifts a month. This will be for birthdays, holidays (Mother's/Father's Day, Christmas), anniversaries, baby showers and weddings. It seems like we have a lot of family birthdays between January-May and then again August-November. This means we have to be really conscious of how much we can spend on gifts and will require some creativity. This year we spent just about $30 on each of the kids for their birthday gifts with the hope of rolling the leftover (I initially planned to spend $50/each) into their Christmas presents. Since we really set the pace last year for Christmas (1 big combined gift from us with 2-3 very small gifts from Santa each) I am hoping to keep the Christmas budget reasonable, but we still need to look at the gift budget for the next 5 months and really hammer out what we can afford to spend on everyone. But since we have a set amount we can spend towards gifts each month that means we really need to watch our spending so we can afford Christmas.

Happy boy at our fav ice cream shop.
{3} Fun money. We budgeted $100/month for "fun money"--$25 each for Jon and me, and $50 for the family. Jon has decided he is going to save his fun money up for a new bike. I've been leaving mine in the pot because I want to do bigger things (for instance, our town's home days fair = that costs money) during the month and the $50 family budget will go fast. In an effort to make the most of our "fun money," we have mostly been using it to get small treats like doughnuts or ice cream. We classify any restaurant or excursion under this umbrella so it really does take planning to make it last the whole month.

{image source}
{4} Internet. We do not have cable. We have not had cable for a few years now. We do have a digital antenna we bought that gives us most network channels with great clarity. This means right now we only spend $25/month on internet and $0 on cable. Since we cut out the $50+ cable bill, we did "splurge" a bit on a Hulu Plus ($8/month) membership to watch our non-network shows. That being said, we use Bing to search and that means we earn rewards that can be cashed in for a free month of Hulu Plus from time to time.
An actual overview of where our money has been going this month.
{5} Mint. This isn't so much a budget as it is a budgeting tool. You can link it up to your bank and credit card accounts and set budgets. As you earn and spend money, the transactions show up in Mint where you can categorize it into its respective budget. This helps you see what you spend and where you spend it to really nail down a budget that you can work with. Something I discovered last month is you can actually split a transaction in Mint into different budgets. This is huge for me because one of the reasons I always stopped budgeting was I would make, say, a Target purchase that included clothing, diapers, groceries, and pet supplies--all of which are four different budgets for us--and I didn't know how to classify it. Now I can split it up into all those categories to really see where our money is going. This has been a major game changer and it's a great way to keep us accountable.

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