As I mentioned in my earlier posts, Doug and I have decided to make it our goal for 2009 to get our "financial house" in order. You can read it about here. I can't begin to tell you the positive impact this has had on our lives. It's almost like a huge burden has been lifted, things have been simplified, and we've been reminded of what's truly important. When you look at the little things that occur on a regular day you can't help but feel blessed when you're making the right choices.
One of the areas we've addressed is our food shopping and eating out. Before kids, we use to love to go out to eat maybe even 3-4 times a week. After both working all day, we'd use the time to catch up and enjoy each other's company. Plus being newlyweds, neither of us were good cooks. Now, eating out at a "sit-down" restaurant is a luxury that's saved for special treats. I've learned to shop based on sales, clip coupons, and plan meals. It's actually a lot of fun when you're challenging yourself to stick to a specific budget and have to be creative. As a result, we've lowered our food budget by approximately $160/month. This is really exciting for us and yes, we're still eating healthy.
Another area we've addressed is saving for fun things. We always complain that we don't get to go on any exciting vacations or purchase something that involves our passion. We're tired of the pity party and have decided to tell our money where to go. This gives us something to look forward to. We're planning on a vacation to Florida in November and cannot wait. We're not going to try and scrounge for the money at the last minute or charge it, instead we've been allocating a specific amount each payperiod toward our vacation fund. And when it comes time to book everything, we'll make our decisions based on our saved amount. This concept is working really well for Doug too as he's been wanting a new motorcycle for the past six years (and I'm really tired of hearing about it!). So he's starting a Harley fund. If he had done this six years ago, he could be riding it right now instead of still dreaming about it.
I just wanted to share this with you because I've gotten a lot of help and information from friends and family. One website I've found extremely helpful is www.moneysavingmom.com. There's information about sales, coupons, freebies, advice on living frugally and within your means, and inspiration. Check it out if you get a minute. I could kick myself for not taking action years ago.