Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sticking to the Budget when it's the Last Week of the Month

It's not easy sticking to a budget.  In fact, more often than not, by the end of the month, I find that I haven't been able to stick with it.  "We're over the food budget, but we're out of milk."  So, I run to the store and get milk...along with a few other items, of course.

With the New Year, however, comes resolutions and such.  One of ours is to not just make a budget every month, not just pay off the credit card in full every month, but to get our family in a better financial position and to create better financial habits.  Especially by the time we move this summer.  

I'm already a nerdy couponer, so making a budget is fun for me.  But like I said, sticking to the budget is often hard.

Three weeks ago, we started Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course at our amazing church.  Total Money Makeover, here we come!  We are excited for February because we already have our budget put together, and we are feeling good about what we can start accomplishing when it comes to paying off student loans, adding to our savings for a down payment on a house, etc.  

But this last week of January has been a struggle.  We're talking rice and beans.  Except that rice and beans aren't Paleo.  We've had some big expenses that while we knew were coming, are still big expenses.  We were already over on our food budget for the month, which I mostly attribute to the adjustment to the Paleo diet.  (Meat and produce can get expensive!)  So I made a menu based on what we had in the pantry already to keep expenses down for the week.  And I knew that no one in our house would be in any way excited about the menu for the week - cabbage soup, chicken marinara with zucchini noodles, leftovers, boring sack lunches, etc.  But I stuck to the menu.  But even sticking to the menu doesn't work when you can't predict how many eggs your husband and kids are going to eat and how far the leftovers will stretch.  

So, skip to yesterday, Saturday, January 31st.  Our fridge was bare with the exception of a few leftovers from the night before, fruit, and condiments.  No milk, no eggs.  Just bare.  But I was determined not to even set foot in the grocery store.  So we made oatmeal for breakfast, but without the customary milk.  And we finished off the leftovers for lunch.  And then it was dinnertime.  Uh oh.  

But instead of panicking, I checked the fridge again, checked the freezer, and realized that we had just enough ingredients to make chicken fried rice.  Rice, 4 chicken thighs, a few fresh carrots, a head of broccoli, some frozen veggies...that's it.  Plus just barely enough teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce, etc.  (We used the ends of about 4 different bottles of sauces to get enough to cover the rice.)  

We made it!  It would have been easy to say, "We've already failed this month, let's just stop trying until next month."  It would have been so easy to swipe the credit card at the grocery store or a restaurant to get us through to the next month's budget.  But instead, we used what we had on hand to get through the end of the month.  And I have to say, I'm so proud of us - my husband and I.  It feels great to start February this way.  

Happy Sunday everyone!

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