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Getting Started Now: We have officially started eating from our $600 budget.

What’s included: groceries, eating out, cleaning supplies, bath and body.

What’s not included: protein powder, vitamins, food on vacations, utilities, rent, car, gardening costs, pet supplies (although an effort to keep cost low and apply saving techniques to them will be used).

Tracking Expenses: We haven’t yet made our joint checking account for this, so for now we are just keeping track of things in a google doc spreadsheet. We will both add receipts as we buy things so it will be updated every time a shopping trip is made. And to encourage both of us to keep up with it, I’ve made it public and you can see it here. I’m going to add a link in the sidebar called $600 for 6 Months.

I’ve decided that the easiest way for us to track expenses is just by receipts. When I post recipes, I’ll use the original cost of the item to figure out how much the meal cost per serving. It’s not just about keeping track of things for me, it’s about providing low cost delicious meals – and giving you information about how much those meals cost exactly. It’s also a good gauge for use to see how we are doing.

We are starting at $600 and deducting each item from the running current balance. See below how we are entering it? Per item and per item savings. So if we use a gift card or coupon that applies to the whole purchase, there really isn’t a way to account for it other than entering it in as a positive to the balance. So that is exactly what we will do.

600sixmonths

How we are Saving:

Coupons – check out Coupons.com, Hot Coupon World, Fat Wallet, Retail Me Not, Smart Source, Coupon Surfer

I haven’t quite gotten enough into Hot Coupon World, but I think that one can really save a lot of money if it’s used correctly – mainly coupon swapping.

Earning Gift Cards – Swagbucks.com (I actually already earned my first $5 amazon gift card just by using it as a search engine in my normal searches), MySurvey.com, Epoll.com. I personally like MySurvey better than Epoll so far – it takes awhile to get a gift card, but every little bit helps.

Goals for May: Continue being more frugal, pinpointing our staple items that are always a good buy, learning to match sales with coupons, developing recipes based on what’s on sale in the produce section – what’s in season. Start our garden and start going to the farmer’s market.

I’m semi doubtful we will stay under $100 this month, but the plan is to reduce our expenses each month so we will stay on target for $600 for the 6 month. We are also hoping to incorporate more house hold expenses as we go along. This is a 6 month project, but we are hoping to make it a life style change – at least until we have our cc paid off and student loans paid down and lots of savings built up. I’ll link up to this post in the sidebar too and add more details as we refine our process.

I also added $600 Budget to the categories, all my posts directly related to the project (progress updates for instance) I’ll add to it.

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Sorry I’ve been so wayward these past two weeks. The plan was more posting leading up to the big budget experiment, but wow, has the last 2 weeks flown by. I really didn’t think it had been that long since i posted! Wow! Well, I’m back on schedule and will be posting 3 times a week from now on, or maybe even more often than that depending on how often I cook/go shopping.

And just for fun, here is a great coupon for a free 12 oz drink at Border’s Seattle’s Best, no purchase necessary. Jason and I printed two out and got two drinks for free! It sure was a nice treat! And it’s valid until 5/6/9.

See you tomorrow with a yummy chicken wrap recipe!
Kristin

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After reading this article about a woman named Erin who has a blog I was surprised to see how well she lived on just $800 a year for her and her family. I have to say it really slapped my crazed spending into perspective. I mean, I’m a pretty thrifty person over all, but my food/home buying is careless. It’s not that it’s horrible, I just know I could be saving a ton of money on the things I’m buying with a little careful planning. Not even a lot of careful planning, but just a LITTLE.

Thankful, Jason feels the same way. And in fact together we decided to try our own experiment starting May 1st for 6 months. No it’s not as courageous as $800 a year, but in our own way, pretty revolutionary. We will be cutting our budget in half to $100 a month for all our groceries/cleaning/dining/bath/beauty expenses. So $600 total for 6 months. And if all goes well, we will cut it again to $75 a month for the next six month after that.

April is our month for adjusting.

We decided that it’s going to take at least a few weeks to adjust to this way of eating/spending.
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couponclipper01

Coupon Capers = Organizing all those Clippings!

I have a lot of issues with coupons. Mainly I forget I have them, forget them at home and buy X without them, buy random things I don’t need just because “I have a coupon for it! what a deal!”

From what I’ve read, the best way to sale shop/buy with coupons is:
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