Monday, August 10, 2009

Paying Yourself First

As many of you know, my husband and I have been struggling with our finances for quite some time. We made choices (a long time seems) that we are still dealing with today.

Well anyway, I have come to the conclusion that we should pay ourselves first. (This does not mean that I am going to go out and buy that surround system my husband has had his eye on for over a year, but that I am going to make sure that I have enough money to give the proper nutrition to my family.)

Each month we attempt to pay off more of our debt, put sometimes it seems that we make little progress. After several weeks of having little or virtually no money for necessary grocery items, I have decided to start the envelope system for the expenses that I have some control my groceries and gas.

Here is how I have divided up the $473 each month for our variable expenses.

Grocery Shopping
Items Bi-Weekly Budget
Diapers $47.00
Pampers Diapers $20.00
Target Brand Diapers $15.00
Baby Wipes $12.00

Household Items $31.00
Toilet Paper $10.00
Deoderant (Z) $6.00
Randoms/Sale Items $15.00

Baby Food (Oatmeal, Jars, Puffs, Etc.) $20.00

Grocery Items $90.00
Frozen Meats $20.00
Canned Goods $10.00
Produce $15.00
Bread $5.00
Boxed Goods $15.00
Dairy $10.00
Frozen Goods $5.00
Beverages $10.00

Randoms/Sale Items $10.00

Grand Totals $198.00

I have allotted $22.00, bi-weekly, for the gas for my vehicle (which gives me approximately half a tank...this amount is typically enough to get me through the 2 week time period).

This means when we get our pay check $220 will come out automatically, before anything else. Any extra cash I have in the envelopes at the end of the month will then go into a "grocery savings account". I will use this money to off-set the costs of adding a new little one to our grocery budget in November (diapers, food, formula, etc). Now, if only I had the money available to fill them ;o).

What do you guys think? How do you control your variable monthly expenses? What advice can you give me to make this idea come to life?

Can't wait to hear from you all! Blessings!


  1. I am loving our envelope system. Although we are only doing 2 envelope 1 for groceries (includes paper and hygeine... items) and one for eating out. So far it's been great and definetly helping us cut back on what we DON'T need. Although we still need to work on it a bit. I like that you already have a plan for the leftover money, we will def. have to do that! good Luck!

  2. long time, no look. =) I use an envelope system. its great becuase when the money is gone, you're done until your next scheduled withdrawal/payday. I split mine into 3 categories... groceries (which includes anything you can buy at a grocery store, baby items excepted), Kids (diapers, wipes, toys, clothes, potty-training supplies...) and entertainment. We've been doing $300 for groceries, $50 for kids and $50 for entertainment, but starting next month until my hubby gets a job we will be cutting way back... probably $150 or less for groceries and only what is absolutely necessary for kids and no entertainment.

  3. Rosie, how often do you refill your envelopes? I will refill them you think that $220 for all groceries and gas is too much? This is basically all my variable expenses.

  4. Some tips:
    Look on ebay for coupons for diapers, wipes and other household products that you buy brand name. they are usually very cheap, and if you buy the coupons in lots, they pay for themselves. Just make sure that the expiration dates are far enough away that you will have time to use them.

    You shouldn't need $10 every two weeks for toilet paper with just the two of you and your little one. Try some different, cheaper brands to cut costs here.

    Lastly, do you have a grocery database that helps you compare prices and save money from store to store? If not, you should make one, stat!

  5. Jenny, thanks for your great advice.

    You are correct, I do not use $10 each week on toilet paper, but I like to stock up. With the $10 a month I will be able to get an extra "pack" of toilet paper each month. After I get a stock pile built up I would not be against lower this amount. However, each envelope is labeled for the general expense....the break down is just how I reached this number.

    My family and I entertain almost daily, so while it is only the three of us living here...we regularly have 6-8 people in our home, daily. This is part of the reason why our toilet paper allotment might seem a little high.

    I ALWAYS use a coupon and look for the best deal when purchasing anything, including diapers.

    Personally, I am afraid to purchase my coupons from ebay, etc. because I do not use them up. I typically will print out coupons that I know I will use, but otherwise I do not worry about it. I would hate to purchase coupons and not be able to use them. I will look into this though, and let y'all know how it goes.

    Thanks again for all the great tips!


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