Personal Finance and Budgeting

At one time my husband and I were going out to the movies every weekend, literally each Saturday would arrive with the both us grunting about what to do, then: “Oh, maybe we can just go to a movie.” Actually it was never this way before because going to the movies is like paying a cell phone bill now. It is just too high, and so we bought movies at Wal-Mart once they came out on DVD. We made it a plan, we even shook on it: “2008, we will see every movie there is-at the theater.”

Unfortunately, movies weren’t the only thing we were making plans for. The economy has taken a swift nosedive and it has affected everything we do and everything we think about. We speak in “low budget terms” now:

“We can add water to the ketchup when it runs low honey, or wait! Let’s get the huge one for a dollar!”

“We don’t really need name brand soap do we?”

“Oh my! We had this non perishable for three years! I bet it’s still good for dinner tonight”

I’m sure we aren’t the only ones using this lingo, and yet it is appropriate for the situation we are all in.

First, food is way too high. Anytime cheese costs more than medicine from the pharmacy, I get scared straight. Also, I look at foods that are known for being “budget dinners” these are like frozen meals that are off brand sometimes (names I’ve never heard of) and I see that the only thing budgeted might just be the ice that’s in the freezer that it’s in, so now I have to make some choices, some tough choices on what to eat and how much to buy.

Food isn’t the only problem; as I mentioned earlier, my family just started doing the movie thing every Saturday last year, and it was great. We also like to dine at our favorite restaurant at least twice a month, so that we both won’t have to cook, yet again, there is a tightening of the strings on both our wallets.

There are some things we have done to take some of the sting out of our present situation:

1) Knock the bills out. This means we pay our bills as they come in, and not procrastinate. We have a car, electric bill, and rent so once those are paid up, we calculate how much money we have left to “play with” and this usually means to save for the cheese.

2) I now clip out coupons. One would be amazed at how much they saved if they would clip out a few coupons before heading out to the store.

3)We figured, we don’t have to go out every Saturday, so I logged on to and became a member. It was so easy to join, and it cost me only 7.99 per month to rent one DVD at a time. So after I’ve prepared a nice meal, we would watch a movie and not have to pay 3.99 for a bag of popcorn.

4)The car needs gas. So when we get paid, he fills it up or I will fill the tank, at least twenty dollars worth, and then we are good to go for lots of days. Instead of a little change here for gas every few days.

5)Try out a budgeting sheet, I have one. This is a great way to keep track of what you are doing and how much you can afford to spend and save. Obtaining a budgeting sheet is as simple as googling it then printing it.

These are tips that are carrying us through right now. Certainly quality foods do taste a little better depending on the brand, and we still go out to dinner and movies because the whole deal is about the experience; and no one can pull me from my quality brand Dove soap.

But, until the economy is healed again, we all must press through and use common “cents” not just during a bad time, but all the time.