Thursday, January 28, 2016

2016 Goals & Getting Real With A Budget

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?

You can still link up to Inspire Me Tuesday - We want to see everything.

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  1. Your yard sounds like it will be amazing. I love raised flower and vegetable beds. Makes gardening so much easier on the back and less weeding too. We've been working on a budget as well and you are so right that those under $20 items adding up very quickly, especially in the craft or art supply stores. Eating out for us is not nearly as expensive as it sounds for you. We typically spend $35-$40. for the two of us, which is not too bad but we can definitely curb some of that. We have found that it is also much too easy to make purchases online. It seems we go to Amazon for one and end up with three!
    Thanks for sharing your budget ideas and your plans for outside.

  2. These are certainly reasonable goals, Marty. Groceries are a big thing for us too and we eat out more often than we should. I limit myself to a limited amount of cash, rather than using credit or debit cards and this definitely keeps me from spending so much on impulse. These are some good pointers you posted today!

  3. It sounds like the yard is going to be wonderful. I have trimmed my budget way back but always try to keep finding other ways to cut costs!

  4. Your yard will be gorgeous when it's done. Think how nice it'll be to sit and relax out there. We got hardwood floors last May and I love them. So easy to keep clean. And you can put a big rug or not depending on what you're in the mood for. As for saving money, I'm pinching $25 dollars a week from my grocery/thrifting money. I'm saving it for Christmas. My husband doesn't know; he'll be thrilled when I tell him come November... Or maybe I won't tell him ;-) lol!

  5. Your yard will be gorgeous when it's done. Think how nice it'll be to sit and relax out there. We got hardwood floors last May and I love them. So easy to keep clean. And you can put a big rug or not depending on what you're in the mood for. As for saving money, I'm pinching $25 dollars a week from my grocery/thrifting money. I'm saving it for Christmas. My husband doesn't know; he'll be thrilled when I tell him come November... Or maybe I won't tell him ;-) lol!

  6. Marty,
    Amazing raised garden beds in your Garden, dear friend!!!
    I have a three tiered raised bed for my Herbs. . .and I love it!!!
    I've been trying to talk "Mr. Ed" into expanding my Herb Garden with a new raised box!!!
    The lawn furniture in your inspiration photo is gorgeous!!!
    I, too, have cut back on the spending. . .
    "Mr. Ed" and I are $aving for a new front porch!!!
    Isn't it an eye~opener where our money truly goes???
    I'll be looking forward to your progress!!!

  7. wow====what a redo---and you will love the raised beds! Your water feature looks awesome....

    I vote for the two chairs and the settee--infnite ways to place those---and it's cozy sitting together, once in awhile. Thanks for sharing, Sandi

  8. You are a savvy lady, Marty, and I think your cut-backs are going to be perfect to save you money each year. Our biggest change has to have stopped ordering pizza-whatever on Friday nights...that was always a break for me with cooking. Still, a large pizza with delivery can be 25+ dollars. So we avoid that and go out once a month for a really nice dinner. As for groceries--my biggest savings has been to make a list and not stroll up and down each aisle where I always buy things I think I need but don't.

    Thanks for your incentives.


  9. i love your approach to your budget so you can get some of your projects done. It's interesting that you point out how the littles add up even though we don't think about that. I need to for sure. Good luck with that backyard. it's going to be fabulous!

  10. I went through about 5 years ago.. it was 2000.00 to 2500.00 I didnt even think about when I was spending it. I set myself a goal and in 3 years I saved 11,000.oo -- I was amazed and I also didnt miss any of the things I gave up and life went on pretty much as usual..

    I hope you succeed with your new plan.

  11. It sounds like you've made some good decisions. My grocery budget is $100 a week for the five of us right now. Fortunately, I have meat in the freezer to help. Don't give up! You can stick to your budget and save for the lovely things you want.

    Be blessed and be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ!

    Please drop by and say hello!
    Harvest Lane Cottage
    ...doing what I can with what I've got where I am
    on a short shoestring budget!

  12. Hi Marty! I recently spent time on my bank website and wondered if there was a budgeting tool. Low and behold, a graph popped up and showed where we are spending our money. We use our debit card for everything so it was pretty accurate. The most shocking number was eating out! I knew it would be too much but on January 7th it was already over what I had hoped to budget for the month. Every year I make the resolution to eat at home more and truly..that's up to me. I'm working on it. Supper is already in the crockpot today. :)

  13. Your backyard will be amazing. We use raised beds for our gardening.

  14. Loved your post. I have just done the same thing and it is amazing where the $5 and $10's go. Good luck and have fun with your goals.

  15. Loved your post. I have just done the same thing and it is amazing where the $5 and $10's go. Good luck and have fun with your goals.

  16. I love the yard and the budget plans are perfect! Four years ago, I had a budget most people would find it next to impossible to live on but I discovered but it can be done. I even managed to save some money on my 'impossible' budget! Thank goodness my income has greatly increased in recent months but the lessons I learned while being forced to tighten my belt are still with me. Can't wait to see how the new yard turns out!

    1. I zeroed right in on that water feature. How did you do that?

  17. I don't think I quite understood. Is the water feature in the fence there or is that how it's going to look? I really want a water feature, but don't have electricity on the patio, so I'm trying to think of another way to do it. The one I had in TX was perfect! Do you know I've never had a pedi. I don't color my hair and only have it cut about every two months ($15 + $5 tip). I don't use any hair products except shampoo. (I don't like people touching me....)

  18. Oh I'm excited to see the yard finished. We did a DIY on our backyard in 1999 and it was the best investment. It provides a place to relax, enjoy time together and benefit from the fruit of your labor. The raised garden beds are going to be wonderful. (Add composted cow manure to the soil to enriched it- the veges will love it) Your budget suggestions are wise. Since I just purged a lot of stuff I was thinking about as you said those small $20 or so purchases add up to a lot of money. We like to eat out but it is so much more costly than cooking at home (trying to break ourselves of that). We investigated wood flooring a while back and still want to do it. Like you though the reality of how much needs to be saved for it slows down the process of actually accomplishing it. I'd rather pay with money I have than to use a credit card so we're still working on that project. Great post Marty!

  19. We've followed Dave Ramsey's money envelope system for years. Paying cash really makes it hurt at the register and makes it so you're not so apt to buy items that dribble your money away. Loved your post as I'm always looking for inspiration to cut corners on spending. My suggestion for ways to help save is to do like our grandmas... use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Good luck with the projects.

  20. Oh Marty, I'm looking forward to see all the progress on the yard. It's gonna push me to do something to my sad backyard. I like the idea of the raised garden beds. You're so right about those $5 - $20 expenses, they do add up!

  21. I can't wait to see your fabulous yard Marty! I need to follow your budget too badly! Right now I'm busy with trying to do the Master Closet, but I saved up on that already on that, just the finishing touches and extra work there if ever.

  22. What a fantastic post, Marty - and you are so right! It's amazing what we can do without when we really try!! Although I will NOT give up my hair appointment every 6 weeks to get rid of the greys!! :) However, I did start doing my own nails and toes which sometimes I miss.

  23. I love the way your back yard is turning out. Can't wait to see it finished.

  24. Looking forward to seeing your's going to be amazing! Also, thanks for reminding me about those little expenditures and how they add up. Sometimes I think because I "got a good deal" that's the end of the story. Good reality check. I'm going to track my spending and see where $$ is going. Since we retired, it's been easy to ignore but the market has been worrying me lately. Good time to get a handle on spending. Thanks!

  25. The yard looks great. I have plans to do the patio this year, amongst other things. I really need to sit and decide and work the budget!

  26. Your back yard is going to be amazing Marty, how exciting! Great budgeting ideas and being mindful of the small purchases that could turn into big savings for more important things.

  27. Your backyard is going to be great, Marty; I can hardly wait to see it! I wish ours was the size of yours....ours is huge and the task of figuring out a plan is so daunting. Sounds like you have a good handle on the costs and the budget.

    Warm hugs,

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  29. I can't wait to see how your backyard turns out! I think your goals are reasonable, and they allow for indulgences and savings. You can do it! Just think of how not eating out helps you end up with finished projects at home. That would motivate me. :)