It's a new year and all the Christmas decor is down and packed away, most of the house has been cleaned, closets and drawers are or have been purged, so it's time to get real with a budget for this year.
There are some things that I really want to do around the house this year - I started off with a huge list of things I wanted to get done and then reality set in. Now I have this down to a couple of things that are realistic, will fit my budget and can be accomplished.
1. Finish the back yard - It is undergoing a complete makeover.
This is how the yard looks at the moment. When it is finished there will be a small pool - small fish pond - and raised vegetable garden area. We have a small yard, so this is about all that we can fit into it.
At one point it looked like this - - -
and the garden area looked like this.
Then the purple plum tree died and the whole area started to become a huge mess.
This area is being totally redone and will have raised garden beds, plus a section fenced off for hidden storage and potting.
It's almost done. The last box has been built - left to do - finish staining them all, put a paver walkway leading to the gate on the storage wall and add gravel between the boxes.
This part is done and it is amazing. ( this flows into my small pool and I can't wait to show you when it is all done)
With that all done, I want to add some pretty to the yard and patio.
2. New furniture for the patio and some new plants.
Our patio is small, so maybe something like this.
We got a fabulous fire pit for Christmas, so that would keep us warm even in the winter. We've always had a table and chairs here, but we really don't eat out here, so I am wondering if something else would be better. Our chairs really need to be replaced, so I am trying to decide if I want 4 chairs or a love seat and two chairs. Either one would work really well.
3. The carpet in the living room and family room really needs to be replaced.
(I am thinking hardwoods - I know this has been my thought for a while)
This is the inspiration board that I have been working with for 2 years. (ok, I know things happen slowly around here sometimes.) I have all the major pieces except the gorgeous hardwood floors and the rug.
I have debated these floors for months. Whatever I put in the living room will also go into the family room. Time to make a decision and get it done.
As you can see, none of these things are inexpensive, so I need to prioritize.
Finishing up the yard since it is underway is number 1. Most of the material for this is paid for, so just a matter of finishing all the work. $200 or $300 should finish this off.
I've set a budget of no more than $500 for patio furniture. There are some good buys out there and I've found several different ones that fit in this price range.
The floors will be about $5,000 which isn't bad, but something I don't want to take out of savings, so this I will be saving for.
Add in a few small diy's and this all comes to around $7,000.
Now here's where the "fun" and the "challenge" comes in. I took a good look at my bank account over several months and tracked where my money goes. I've always thought I was reasonably thrifty - not cheap - but thrifty. It is amazing how $5 here and $20 there adds up.
When I took a good look at how I spend money, I found out that anything $20 or under and I thought of it as petty cash and non-consequential. I was amazed that those little buys and spends could add up to $200 real fast.
Here are a few things I discovered were eating up a ton of money.
1. Groceries - I need to keep it at around $100 a week.
I usually do one big shop each week and only go back if I run out of something, but I don't plan out meals and I don't really watch the grocery budget. I like for the pantry and the fridge/freezer to be fully stocked with everything, so then whatever I want to cook, all the ingredients are on hand. I do read the ads, make a list and use the coupons that really apply to what we like to eat. It wastes money to use a coupon and buy something you really don't like. We eat really well at our house, but I can trim a little here I think. For just the two of us I definitely think a budget of $100 week is more than ample, so I am going to stick to that.
2. Personal care -
I am going to curb some of those trips to the Beauty Salon. Coloring my own hair instead of spending hours in the salon, and I really can go a month between pedicures and just re-polish at home. I do it all the time when "time" is a crunch anyway. Now this should save quite a bit more by itself. Hair color at the salon is around $75 and you can buy everything at Sally's for under $10. Skipping one pedi also saves about $30.
3. Give myself an allowance of $100 month for crafts and home decor.
(This is where I spend the most - I spend double this and sometimes more - I have to get this under control)
4. Eat out only twice a month.
Even if we don't go anywhere fancy it is $60 to $75 to eat out. This needs to be a treat and enjoy Pizza or Chinese a couple of times a month instead of going out.
5. If I put cash in my wallet and only use it, not the debit card, it is amazing how you think twice about all those misc. things.
This should curb a ton of those little $5 and $20 spends.
These few things will save an average of $500 a month in addition to our regular savings.
Now that makes my goals something that I can accomplish this year.
If I can do this, I will definitely pop the champagne cork and celebrate.
Have you taken a good look at your budget lately? It will probably amaze you at how the money seems to slip away, it did me.
Do you have some major goals for this year too?
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