Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Money Management

I have been very stressed about money this week. There were just more bills than there were funds and I found myself without enough money to buy groceries, diapers, and the other things we needed this week. How did this happen? Typically I am really good about managing our family's finances, but I messed up. Not sure how....not sure why. Add up a couple impulse buys I blame on the pregnancy, one or two too many meals "out" versus at home, and some poorly timed bill payments and our account was running on empty. This is something that sends me into stressed out mode faster than anything else.

So, what's to do be done? I'm going on maternity leave in just a couple weeks and I am scared to death about how we are going to make it during those two months I am off work. Here is my plan for our financial survival:

1. PRAY - I need to pray for guidance, patience, wisdom, and for the courage we need to trust that God will see us through this. With all the money we are throwing at the basement right now, every purchase matters and I need all the help I can get. It's hard to keep things straight when you're spending a lot of money on a project (the basement) at the same time that you're trying to manage your daily expenses AND pay off debt. Please pray for us.

2. CELEBRATE THE SMALL VICTORIES - Going through our debt balances the other day (one of my favorite things to do), I got really excited to find out how close we actually are to paying off a couple things. The car payment will go away in January and one of our credit cards will officially be paid off in September! It's easy for me to get discouraged by looking at how much we still have to go, but I need to re-focus on celebrating what we have already accomplished.

3. LEARN TO SPEND SMARTER - I have no idea how to use coupons. I don't know where to look for them, how to organize them, or how to design my shopping lists around them. I don't meal plan, so making grocery lists is always difficult and I always seem to be throwing away food that we didn't use before it got bad. I need to change this and I need help. If you have any tips or advice on how to meal plan and/or grocery shop using coupons, please tell me. I am at a total loss here and I really want to learn how to spend smarter. I was pretty proud of myself for saving about $16 by using coupons at Target today!

4. SAVE MORE - Right now, $20 every week is automatically removed from my checking account and dropped into our "secondary checking," which is the account we use to try to save up money for emergencies. Right now it is the account where all our basement money is sitting, so it's kind of doing double-duty, but you get the picture. The problem is that every time I find myself short (like this week), I dip into this account so we don't go overdrawn in our regular checking. It becomes hard to save when you're taking back the money you're supposed to be saving! Do you have any strategies for how I can save more?

I am hoping that those of you who read this blog will be willing to help us out with this. If you have any words of advice or just encouragement, please post them or email me. This week's struggle really got me freaked out about the next couple months and I could really use your help. Thanks in advance.

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