Simply Budgeting: Budgeting Your Time


In April asked … do you live a savings lifestyle? Last month, I didn’t post a series post. My time was not organized last month and I admit it.

This month I hope to spark conversation around organizing and budgeting your time. Your time is one of the most valuable assets you have. It is why you are paid for any job you do. It is also why you pay others to do jobs for it.
I know I need to get better at organizing my time because I have so much pulling at it these days. One of my biggest struggles in budgeting my time is my graduate classes. It is very helpful to my schedule that they are online but also requires more focus for me. I am striving to work on them now so I can finish while my little ones are still little. The balance is trying now and I can’t imagine it getting easier … maybe it would but I don’t have faith in that theory. So here I struggle trying to balance my family, my job, my homework, and any other activity I throw in the mix which does include my blogging time. So that is why sometimes my posts are as often as they should be (in my opinion.) This is one of the first things go when I get stuck. At the same time, I really try to make sure I have time for the family with a key there being sure I get home in time for dinner. We eat dinner early (about 5pm) so this can be a challenge some days.

I know I work best off lists. I have a list in front of me right now. If I don’t have a list, I find myself lost doing other stuff that while it probably needs to be done, I then wonder what I wasted my time on that day. I also have my planner. My planner helps me plan ahead and even work ahead if I can. It also gives me more places to have check marks. You see, I have this obsession with check marks. I love to see that stuff is getting done and that motivates me to keep going.

So my questions this month are ….

So how do you organize your time? What works and doesn’t work for you? Maybe you have a tip to share that will help another reader so take a second and share how you organize and budget your time!

Do you have a budget question/idea/topic/blog post? Let me know in a comment or email to simplybudgeted at gmail.com!

Simple Budgeting: Do you live a Savings Lifestyle?


Last month I talked about My Dirty Little Secret.

Why did I wait until the last minute for this month’s post? I was waiting to be inspired. My inspiration came at lunch yesterday with some co-workers. It was a ladies lunch and only four of us made it this time so we had the chance to talk together a lot.

I mentioned that my husband was making chicken chili for the chili cook-off at work (it was today) because we had a lot of chicken in our freezer. I stated that I hardly ever pay full price for meat.

One of the ladies at the lunch is in her 50s and two grown sons who are out on their own. She said she was so happy to be past pinching pennies for milk and bread. She went on to say how great it was to walk into the store and buy whatever she wanted not looking at the prices.

I honestly can’t imagine this. My husband and I have had the conversation on if we were suddenly rich, what would change for us. We have some stuff around the house we would want to do, student loans to pay off, if it was enough for me to quit work even better BUT we always say our shopping wouldn’t change much. Why would we pay full price for meat?? It doesn’t make sense to waste the money we do have even if we have a lot of it.

I told the ladies this at the table and I looks of craziness. Maybe my standards are high in that I expect to save 50% off my total every time I leave Harris Teeter. Maybe I do spend extra time cutting coupons and looking at ads/blogs online for deals. I can’t imagine paying those full prices though. Right now we don’t have the money to not shop like this but if we had extra cash just laying around (if you have that, feel free to share =P), I know we wouldn’t run out the door spend it.

So my question this month is …. do have a savings lifestyle or are you in a savings fad? Think about it. Let me know by leaving a comment!!

Do you have a budget question/idea/topic/blog post? Let me know in a comment or email to simplybudgeted at gmail.com!

Simply Budgeting: My Dirty Little Secret

Last month I talked about Organizing Your Coupons. This month I am posting this last minute but had the topic here for a week or so.

So now I have you wondering … what is her dirty little secret? Well all this time I have had this blog where I have talked about budgeting, we have had one budget item I never shared. The budget item was cut back once since then and now has been cut completely. What was it? I hear you asking me to just get to the point! =P We have had a cleaning lady. I hired her back when I was pregnant with Sophie (our second kiddo) because I physically couldn’t keep up with the house plus my job, plus little Gracie, plus my husband being a full time graduate student on top of being pregnant. Something had to give and it was cleaning the house. So we skimped in a lot of areas to have someone clean twice a month. That was part of the reason I clipped so many coupons and shopped so many sales. When my husband didn’t get a full time teaching job last year, we cut her back to once a month. I wasn’t willing to give up a fully clean house once a month. So I cut back other areas and keep working the coupons more and more.

Just over two weeks ago, our minivan died. It was going to cost double its worth to fix it. We bought it used and it served us very well. We had to make a hard decision on if we wanted to fix it again or just bit the bullet and upgrade. Out came the budget. The budget was such a HUGE factor in this decision, I can’t even stress it enough. To fix the van was going to cost our van payments through the end of this calendar year. Next year, our budget changes some so we had to factor that in since a payment would keep going. We also had to realize that we have been pay for a large repair every year we have had the old van. So the decision was made … we have a new van. YAY for the new van BUT in order to get the new van, I had to give up my cleaning lady. That was one of the hardest calls I have had to make in awhile. I hope to use her from time to time still as I know I will run short of hours in the day at some point.

So now I am cutting out a heck of a lot of coupons for cleaning supplies that I have ignored. Last week my score was toilet bowl cleaner for 49 cents a bottle … I bought four! My cleaning supply stash is pretty good right now and I know I can get cleaning supplies super cheap. Now to find the extra time in my day to keep my house looking and actually being clean … it will happen. I know it will even it means less sleep and I have believe … actually I KNOW that having a van that won’t break on us is worth it.

Our NEW 2011 Honda Odyssey Budget Line Item

(We seriously LOVE it. I think I will cry when the first payment comes due though. It has been forever since we have had a car payment!)

Do you have a dirty little secret in your budget? Do you check your budget before you make big decisions like a new vehicle? Do you clean your house one room at a time? That is how I have been doing it so far since I don’t have full days to do this task!

Do you have a budget question/idea/topic/blog post? Let me know in a comment or email to simplybudgeted at gmail.com!

Simply Budgeting: Organizing Your Coupons

It is a new year and time to pick back up the Simple Budgeting Series. Last month I talked about Organizing Yourself. I wasn’t sure if that theme would continue but it will for February.

I am not the expert in this area but the topic this month Organizing Your Coupons. This is a result of a few responses to the Quaker Oatmeal Coupon giveaway. Why do I say I am not expert because I honestly am not. So I will tell you what I have tried and what I do.

I tried the save the whole insert method. During the time I did this, I rarely used my coupons. I had no idea what coupons I had/didn’t have. It was a mess to be honest even though it was contained in nice little folders.

I haven’t tried the binder method. I thought about it. I honestly looked at binders for months. They even those cute ones now that are bags … so tempting. I finally decided that I couldn’t have another bag around. I have my purse, I have a diaper bag, and all of the reusable shopping bags. I was at my limit already.

So I went back to my trusty coupon expandable file organizer. Why do I love these? They are cheap. You can get one at Walmart or even Amazon for under $4. They hold up well. Plus you can write your own tabs on them. My binder is a bit aged (the elastic is broken to be honest but I am not willing to give it up yet!) Here are my tabs …

Baking
Beverages
Breakfast/Cereal
Canned Goods
Cleaning/Laundry
Dairy
Frozen Foods
Meats
Paper Products
Pasta/Rice/Boxes
Personal Care
Snacks/Candy

* I have two extra slots in the front of my binder that don’t have labels. The first one is generally empty. Sometimes I will put the coupons I am using that day in that pocket (some days I put them in an envelope and write my list on the envelope.) The second tab-less spot is my misc spot where I put my diaper/baby, battery, pet coupons.

TIP: I organize my coupons in how the store I shop at the most (Harris Teeter) has their store set-up. So my condiment coupons are all with canned goods because they are in the same aisle at the store. If am shopping some where else such as Walgreens then I know where my coupons are out of habit.

TIP: I have learned to be really honest about if I will use a coupon or not. I don’t cut coupons on many frozen foods any more because we eat so few of them (we are try to cut down so if they are too expensive, we won’t buy them.) I do always cut coupons for yogurt and cereal though because those are staples at our house!

TIP: If I am shopping in one store, I will sometimes leave the coupons in my binder. Most of the time I have them in envelops though. I will use envelops that come in the mail if I want to write my list on them. I find this easiest in places like Walgreens. I often don’t carry my coupon binder in the store with me. I know that if I do, I will be tempted to get other stuff that isn’t on my list. (The grocery store seems to my one constant exception.)

TIP: The best advise I can give is to find a system that works for you. Don’t use mine or someone else’s just because they said it was good. That whole insert method is proof of that as I know it works great for some but it failed me.

So tell me how you organize your coupons? What are your challenges? What are your successes? I am honestly hoping that some of you have some other great ideas to share on this topic!

Do you have a budget question/idea/topic/blog post? Let me know in a comment or email to simplybudgeted at gmail.com!

Simple Budgeting: Organzing Yourself

It is a new year and time to pick back up the Simple Budgeting Series. You can go back to last year’s series to ask yourself “What is your budget?” and learn A Little Math.

I am not sure if Organizing Yourself will be a theme here for a year or just a few months so give me your feedback.

The challenge this month is to take one small area … make it small and organize it to fit your life.
When I say small, think small.

Your purse …
Your junk drawer …
Your makeup in the bathroom …
One drawer or area of your desk (not the whole desk!) …
One cabinet in your kitchen …
One drawer of your dresser …
One like item in your closet (like your shoes) …

Got your one place? Now go organize it. Sort out the trash, the donate, the sell, and the keep items. Yes, four piles. Now maybe in your purse you don’t have all four items but if you clean out your shoes you might! After you do that figure out what to do with your donate and sell items. List them online or find a consignment shop if they are sell items. If they are donate items, head to the local charity of your choice and drop them off. Don’t let them collect up until you have a big pile though.

Why is this the topic for this year? This isn’t budgeting.
Remember the posts last year Knowing What You Have and Using What You Have. This is apparently a big problem and I run into here at my house too. I had some folks tell me they can’t organize because they don’t have money to spend on organizing tubs or other supplies … guess what … you don’t need them!! Use what you have. Get creative. Maybe you use cardboard boxes with the lid cut off or shoe boxes that are labeled. Wrap them in wrapping paper for a festive but ubber cheap nice look!

As I researched for this post, I was amazed at the site and services that offered to get you organized. They aren’t cheap at all. What do they give you? Most of them give you a list. So you pay for a list. No supplies or even someone else’s one-on-one time. A list. I am betting you can find a scrap of paper and make a list. Am I right on that?

This is also brought on by my recent organizing efforts. I recently went through my shoes (gasp!). I can now get to all of my shoes and I have had a lot of fun wearing some of the ones that were buried in chaos just recently. I also went through my sweaters and picked out the ones I didn’t wear and the ones that were too big. That felt really good. Unfortunately, the consignment shop stopped taking winter items already so I will have to save this until next fall. That is OK though because they are labeled and stored next to the kids’ clothes that will go then too.

Next on my list … my little dude’s closet which doesn’t count as a small space but it is the next space on my list. It is next because I can conquer it without spending money. The girls’ closet will cost me a little bit as I need to take down that horrible organizer thing (if you even dare to call it that!) the previous owners graced us with. aye.

So tell me what you organize and how it makes you feel. Do you feel like you can know what you have and use what you have better? Did that SMALL step make a difference?

Do you have a budget question/idea/topic/blog post? Let me know in a comment or email to simplybudgeted at gmail.com.