Friday, September 21, 2012

Week 1 - Setting stepping goals for my financial freedom

I have big, well planned out long-term savings goals. I have shorter-term mini savings goals that are my benchmark as to how I'm doing and where am I vs where I should be.

While I'm still almost debt free, I really haven't been seeing much success in those short-term goals. And those long-term goals seem very distant right now and almost unattainable.

I figure my best strategy would be to make myself accountable. I'm going to keep documenting my frugal steps, my planning and my achieving (and/or roadblocks) here. Win or lose, fight or flight... I'm going to be baring it here and get my butt back on track.

For now, I'll be posting weekly goals and challenges for myself. I've already posted on Monday a couple of things that I could be doing better at. And by making small 'stepping' goals, I'm hoping to do better at a few things.

Goal 1: Cook home-cooked, from scratch meals at least 3 times a week (with a bigger meal for Sunday for planned leftovers) next week.

Details:
This past two weeks, I've cooked only two meals from scratch. Mostly I've either eaten take out, fast food, or heat & eat meals from the freezer/refrigerator. I'm happy to report that most of the frozen meals are eaten. I'm hoping to get my grocery list and planning done today to try to resist taking the easy way out when it comes to shopping for groceries this weekend.

Goal 2: Take leftovers to work for lunch four days next week (am working from home one day).

Details:
I have chili and spaghetti frozen from the last couple of weeks. Add a big meal from Sunday that will freeze well and I should have a third choice to take to lunch with me. This should save me $5 - $7 each day.

Goal 3: Check out programs that might help save money on non-grocery items that we regularly use. I used to LOVE the walgreens rebate program. I saved a ton of money and clipped coupons to save more in combination with it. When they stopped the program, I kept clipping coupons - but found that my savings just didn't add up like they used to - so I stopped.  Sadly, there isn't a CVS in the area (as I've been drooling over their savings program for a while). But I thought I saw something recently for Walgreens that might be a new option for me. I also am a member at K-Mart's awards programs but never really learned about it. I saw that they are starting to regularly offer double coupon programs (in a much more limited fashion) at K-Mart. I'm going to spend a couple of hours this weekend learning about the opportunities to see what will work for me.

Goal 4: Keep searching for more affordable yarn options. I need some brightly colored cotton yarn in a fingering weight that has a specific style of dyeing done. Right now I can't even find the yarn I want for my project; but if I could it would cost me approximately $136 or more for the project. By dyeing it myself I can save a bundle. But, first, I have to find an affordable source for the base yarn. My goal? spend less than $50 (including shipping). I won't buy it until after payday... but first, I have to find it.

Goal 5: Not dip into savings this week for expenses. (this one is probably going to be tough)

Details:
My checking account is running a bit low with a full week until payday. I have about $320 in it and my original budgeting plan (that has been failing all to often lately) is to have a buffer of $400 in it every week when the NEXT payday rolls around. That gives a buffer for those tough weeks and is intended to keep me from dipping into savings. I'm below it and I still have a week to go - including needing to get groceries. This week, it's low because I paid about $600 in medical bills, plus I had already spent my buffer the week before.

Expenses between now & next Friday (payday):
1) Alex has a scouting event Saturday morning - no direct expense - but a good attitude when he'd rather be watching cartoons first thing in the morning will probably require a bit of snack bribing. I will treat him to McDonald's afterwards, less than $4.

2) Groceries. A well planned, less pre-made shopping list. I will resist the urge to go crazy with it, but will try to limit myself to just the next ten days (gets me through the next weekend). Included in this will be a pack of Pepsi bottles and a pack of water bottles to take to work to avoid paying $1.50 each x 2 each day. Approximately $150 spent

3) Wedding Saturday afternoon, evening. No gift per request. No cost, free meal. Again, the McDonald's bribery is intended to cover the attitude adjustment. Hoping for two events from the one trip.

4) Alex has scouting event on Monday night - we're bringing treats and drinks for the boys. They want them to be 'healthy' for a change... which fits in well with me trying to do better as well. Not sure exactly what I'm taking - but I will be taking 100% juice drinks. Still thinking about a baked item that's got fiber, fruit and less sugar for the snack. Would rather not bake it from scratch just now.  - $25

5) Hair cut - $50

6) Meal on Thursday night. I treat my son to McDonalds usually on Wednesday night (and me to Wendy's). But will convince him to make it wait until Thursday  night as that's the night that I'll be working my second job. - $10

7) Breakfast at work next week - approx $1 each day (x 4 days) if I don't pay for my Pepsi bottle with it. I am probably going to keep this pretty low-cost breakfast option for a while and see if I need to adjust more later. $1 a day is a lot less than the $7 - $10 a day I spend now.

Expect to spend just under $250. Still more than I would like, but it's less than I have in checking. Enough left for gas, if needed, and other minor, unexpected expenses.

No comments: