1. 1st thing on my list was to finish the backyard. This is what it looked like at the beginning of the year. My children were in the process of making over the entire yard and building me a "little" pool.
TA-DA The Backyard and Pool is finished and it is amazing. My children worked together to create this fabulous fun little pool for us and we have thoroughly enjoyed it. You can see the whole post showing how they put this all together here.
We have a water feature, lights, shade and a filter to keep the pool nice and clean.
All the plumbing, electrical and filter are easy access behind the fence. I practically lived in this little pool all summer.
2. 2nd was some new Patio Furniture. This was an inspiration picture that I shared,
3. The next thing was to save up my money and replace the really worn carpet in the living and family rooms. The carpet always looked half way decent in pictures, but it really was time for it to go and it was really worn.
This picture shows just how worn and dirty the carpet really is.
Now with the new wood floors, the family room is just as gorgeous. You can see all the details here.
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. HIT
Thank goodness it only came to about $5500. My children paid for the pool, so we only had the floors and furniture to save for. This was a really great HIT.
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. - MISS
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. (I somehow just kept going over. So I think I actually averaged around $125 a week. )
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. HIT
(I cut back to every 3 weeks for a Pedi, colored my hair at home with professional products from Sally's and even trimmed my own hair a couple of times.)
3. Give myself an allowance of $100 month for crafts and home decor. MISS
(This is where I spend the most - I spend double this and sometimes more - I have to get this under control) ( I think I missed my goal here. I went over some months and some a little under, but I am sure it was more than just the $100 budget.)
4. Eat out only twice a month. HIT
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. (We enjoyed the pool and BBQ this summer, so we actually only ate out about once a month most months. )
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. MISS
This should curb a ton of those little $5 and $20 spends. (Seems like I put money in my purse, then it went for groceries and everything under the sun and then I would be out and use the debit card. This didn't work at all for me. )
These few things will save an average of $500 a month in addition to our regular savings. MISS
(Some months were a hit and some a miss. All in all I averaged around $350 a month extra.)
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