New Year's is upon us, and, for me, the new year always brings thoughts of a fresh start. I think it hit hubby this year, too - he seems to have this sudden urge to get our things tidy and organized. Of course, this just means more work for me, as it always seems to be MY stuff that he wants to organize, LOL! Over the weekend, we took the Christmas money we got from my aunt and uncle and bought some shelving and storage boxes for the spare room. For the first time since we moved in four years ago, you can actually see the carpet in there! My sewing and craft stuff is all neat, tidy, and put away. With the exception of one small box that doesn't fit, the books are all on shelves. There's still a stack of magazines I need to sort through, but I'll get to that...eventually.
But really, the new year (and every new month, really) brings me the opportunity to get back on track with our budget, and tracking our finances. Hubby got a new truck the weekend before Christmas, and we are now officially back in debt. That was an interesting experience for me. I knew it was coming, but I still had a pretty strong emotional reaction. I'm probably the only person in the world that gets physically ill after taking out a loan!
Don't get me wrong, we can well afford this loan, it's just cutting significantly into the amount of money we have been putting into savings each month. And, naturally, I have the urge to throw lots of money at it and pay it off as quickly as possible. It'll still take a few years, but I know we'll be paying it off early. But, we're still putting money into all our different savings pots each month so, barring any emergencies, our savings will continue to grow.
One area of the budget that I forever have problems is food. We have a HUGE food budget each month. For two people, it's practically obscene. We eat out a lot, and I tend to be a stock up shopper - we have a very well stocked pantry and freezer! In fact, the only meat I bought in December was a bag of chicken tenderloin and a couple of packages of ground beef. In January I shouldn't even need to do that. So I'm getting back on track with menu planning and cooking, and eating out a lot less.
I started by taking a freezer inventory. I have a spreadsheet on the front of the freezer, and I'll mark things off as I take them out. Then, I did a menu plan. Here's what this week looks like, starting from last Friday:
Friday: cube steak and spaetzle
Saturday: dinner out (we got a gift card for Christmas)
Sunday: Pork, cabbage, and rye casserole (this was great - I'll post the recipe later)
Monday: leftover casserole, then munchies at my sister-in-law's house)
Tuesday: scalloped potatoes and ham
Wednesday: chicken and black beans
Friday: green chile stew with pork
Saturday: tuna casserole
We have an over abundance of pork, so we'll be eating that twice a week for a while. Otherwise, I try to hit different kinds of meat once each week. Hubby's not a big fan of meatless meals, so I have to sneak them in when I can, which isn't very often.
On the eating out less front, I have one friend that I meet for lunch once a week. She's on a budget too, so we've made plans to bring our lunch and meet at her place. It means I have to take a slightly longer lunch hour on those days, but I'm fortunate to have a job that is flexible and allows me to do that. I do meet another friend from time to time, and those lunches will probably come out of my allowance, which is no problem.
There's my plan for getting back on track for now. Happy New Year, everyone!