Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Where is all our money going?

How do you know when something is a good deal?  Do you wait for the store to put it on sale?  Do you compare brands, prices, quantity, even different stores?  Or do you just buy what you need and hope the money last till the next pay day?  Several women I know have taken the time to put together a price journal of the items they purchase on a regular basis.  This is a working journal that changes depending on your ability to source better deals, sales and inflation.  We started keeping track of our items in February of this year. Each time I return from the store I save the receipt to log the price I paid for the item in my journal.  This helps me see what is going up and what is going down.  If something is increasing then that is an item I began to actively source somewhere else.  It also becomes an item that I keep my eye open for coupons for and sales of that item.  Sometimes I've already found the lowest price in which case I use coupons and sales to get it for a lower cost, but sometimes the price is just increasing overall. 

See Honey! I'm saving us money by buying in bulk!
Have you ever asked yourself "where is all our money going?"  You know there are no new big ticket items sitting around the house, you haven't gotten a new wardrobe lately, and, heck, you can't even remember the last time you splurged on something other than the really cushy toilet paper!  You are working the same hours, maybe even more, but still you are coming up short.  When you keep a price journal it's easy to see if the culprit is price inflation.  This information is helpful when planning or adjusting your budget.  If you see that your grocery bill has risen 15% in the last six months then you know some other expense is going to have to reduce in order to maintain the same budget. 

In our journey many things have gotten the boot.  We've disconnected our cable television, ditched our cell phones, and severely limited fast food.  These things aren't bad or evil, we simply can't afford them.  Ask yourself... Who are you trying to impress?  I honestly can't say I miss these things... they were just something I was accustomed to.  I grew up on fast food and convenience.  My mom was a young, single mom who worked a full-time job at minimum wage until she was able to move forward a little.  There was literally no time to do anything for herself.  We cleaned our own house, and Saturday was the day it was cleaned from top to bottom with no exceptions.  Quite simply, we were broke.  We ate cheap food, wore used or discounted clothes, and my mom worked her butt off just to keep things going, but somehow she did.

Maybe you're in this situation.  Maybe you're fortunate enough to have a good education and a supportive spouse. Whatever your circumstances are, keeping track of your expenditures is the only way to move forward.  That way you'll know where you stand and how you can continue to move forward.

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