Financial Organizational Resolutions
The New Year is traditionally a time when people make resolutions. They pledge to lose weight and hit the gym more. Or they promise to learn a foreign language. Some even declare that this is the year they break some annoying habit they’ve been unable to shake for years. I usually don’t make resolutions, but this year I’m making two.
I’m pledging to be more organized where our finances are concerned.
Receipts can be essential to keep track of your finances. Unfortunately, we’ve been a bit lax in this department. This means that we our receipts tend to be put in one of a few different piles to be moved around, forgotten about, found again, and finally thrown out. Clearly, we need a better system. My plan is to put all of our receipts into a folder, organized by month. At the end of the month, I’ll go through them and tally up how much we spent on various categories. After a few months, we should have a clear picture of where our money goes.
Even though we haven’t figured out exactly how much we spend, we know that our food costs are one of the biggest items in our budget. Part of this comes from a lack of meal planning. Too many weeks, we try to decide what to make for dinner on a night by night basis. This often means a last minute trip to the grocery store to get needed ingredients. While there, inevitably, impulse purchases are made – often with "this sounds good for dinner another night" in mind. This also can result in food waste – as perishable food is purchased without a clear plan and goes bad before one can be thought up.
By planning the meals for the week, we should be able to narrow this down our grocery store trips to one or two per week, eliminate many non-essential purchases, and cut back on our food waste.
Years ago, B and I would pour over the weekly flyers, cut coupons, and take our coupons with us to the grocery store. I remember hunting through mounds of coupons to find one I knew we had so we could save some cash. So what happened? Kids and life happened. Clipping and organizing coupons takes time. Remembering to take them on shopping trips takes planning. Kids introduce chaos and unpredictability into life and can make it tricky to stay organized and can make it more difficult to plan ahead. However, every time we don’t use a coupon, we’re paying money that we could have saved. We don’t need to go to the lengths that extreme couponers go to, but using *some* coupons will save us precious money.
What financial organizational strategies do you employ especially in the areas of receipts, coupons, and meal planning?
NOTE: The "money – banknotes and coin" graphic above is by n_kamil and is available from OpenClipArt.org.