Looking back over resolutions posts from past years, one of the suggestions I saw was to focus on one thing each month. I’m making January about money. In January, I have to fill out financial aid forms for Geeky Girl’s school, which involves doing my taxes and figuring out how much goes out vs. how much comes in. It puts a lot of things in perspective. Before I quit my job in 2008, our finances weren’t too bad. We had some savings. Our debt wasn’t crazy and we usually more than made ends meet. Then I quit. We ate up our savings. We added on to the house and we added tuition for Geeky Girl and Geeky Boy to our spending needs. Without my income, there were months we needed to put groceries on the credit card and we couldn’t pay that off.
We didn’t necessarily make the best of decisions then, but quitting my job was the right thing to do. I’m much happier now. My family is better off emotionally for it and that’s something money can’t buy.
But now, we’re paying a bit for that. And while I’m sure there are things we could cut, we are not really extravagant spenders. According to Mint’s lovely pie chart, last year most of our money was spent on our house (33%), followed by education, food, car (which includes insurance), and bills. So we spent on necessities mostly. Any cuts we make have to come from those. I reduced our homeowners insurance and actually our mortgage payment is going to decrease slightly because we escrowed more than we needed to for taxes. Food costs could be reduced by not eating out as much. And I’d like to do that, though I’d love to spend our eating out money better. It tends to be for quick meals when I don’t feel like cooking. I’d rather be spending it on date nights or going out with friends.
We’ll pay off our second car in July. That will help tremendously, but that’s six months away. Bills aren’t too bad really. But cable takes up a big chunk, as does the mobile phone. We have a land line, of sorts, through our wireless company. Our plan is to get rid of that, which will reduce that a bit.
There are a lot of costs we have little control over. Gas for our cars, for example. Barring driving less, there’s not much we can do. But I’ll try to see where we can save some money here and there, maybe even build up some savings. By the end of January, I’d like to have a better path set financially.