Sorry to not have posted anything for a few days. I’ve been busy budgeting up a storm.
Many people say that when it comes to budgeting, simpler is better. I would agree when you’re first beginning to budget. However, I’ve been at this awhile, and I’m a perfectionist on top of that, so I made myself a 6-page spreadsheet budget. It’s got details on everything, from the basics (all of our expenses) down to the intense (what we eat in a year). Nearly every time I look at it, I think of something to add in. Then I get to revamp that whole page.
Yes, I did a super-detailed budget that definitely isn’t a great idea for beginners, but through the process I found out the best times of the month to pay bills, my debt-payoff date, a monthly and weekly grocery list, and some budget-slimming hacks I can employ.
I also found a great way to use some cash envelopes. I had previously tried these, but we were going to the ATM way too often. I added up the amount of cash we would need for a whole month, so we only have to go to the bank once time each month. I can personally use credit cards and bank cards responsibly and track my spending, but not everyone in my household has that ability. I’m hoping that by using cash, we can avoid those mindless payments. A couple dollars here and there adds up, but I can’t seem to convey that to where we can all use bank cards.
I’ve also delved into meal-planning. This is something I’ve dreaded and avoided for years. All the information I’ve found about has suggested writing down recipes and using the ingredient lists to make a grocery list. To me, that sounded like scraping my head against a cheese grater once a week.
But then I found an app called Whisk. (not sponsored, but I wish I were) It’s the same principle as doing a meal plan on paper, but it’s all digital on my phone. If I’m scrolling through Pinterest (or anywhere else) and find a cool recipe, I can save it right there. Then I just look through the recipes I have on there and click on it to add it to a certain calendar day. There’s even an option where I can just put the recipe floating at the top of the week. I like to do this with recipes that I need to make during the week but aren’t for a specific day.
Meal planning is definitely helping me cut down on frozen-premade food and the stress of not knowing what to cook for dinner. We almost never go out to eat as we’ve been really frugal for years, but lately we’ve been buying a lot of frozen corndogs and other frozen food. This is, in part, because my husband and I like to eat different things (I like to eat super-healthy while he really enjoys his junk food), but it’s also because I haven’t been planning out dinners either. I know how to make homemade pizza and lasagna and cookie dough, etc., but I just haven’t been focusing on it.
As I mentioned before, meal planning also cuts down on my stress. When 5 o’clock rolls around, I’m not having to scramble to think up something to cook for dinner; I already know. It’s amazing the calming effect that a little forethought and planning can have.
It’s also saving me time and heartache. As far as the time goes, I only have to spend about 30-40 (calm) minutes a week making a meal plan vs. spending a hectic half-an-hour every day trying to magic-up some dinner. As for the heartache, well… I already mentioned how my husband’s tastes and mine are different. If I cook on-the-fly, I tend to make dishes that I enjoy. Many times over the years my husband has let me eat the entire dish and refused to eat any himself. This made me feel pretty inadequate. When I plan ahead, I can choose dishes that I know my husband will enjoy. It’s a win-win; tastier food for him and no inadequate feelings for me.
This Whisk app is fantastic! There’s no copying, no writing things down, no working out the kinks in the system, because there’s already a tried-and-tested system! It makes the daunting prospect of meal planning into an easy (dare I say “enjoyable”) task. If I’d found this before, I may have tried meal planning years ago.