Starting off 2022: It’s Budget Time!

Soo, the potato is crazy in the photo, but it made me laugh, so I included it.

As I mentioned in this post, we’ve got 7 posts coming through the end of the year to help you start 2022 off on a good foot.

I’ve talked a lot about budgeting before and not much has changed except that the cost of stuff keeps going up. Inflation is a bitch, y’all. And with wages not keeping up with the inflation, we’ve got to do what we can. We need to control the factors that we have to ability to control.

Setting up a budget takes time. You can do it all at once, but be prepared to spend a few hours working on it.

You’ll need:

Access to your bank account or bank statements for three months.

A Google Sheet page, or an Excel Spreadsheet

List of your monthly financial obligations. Here are just a few of those:

  • Mortgage/Rent (Our Mortgage payment includes impounds for our Homeowners insurance and property taxes)
  • Gas/Electric*
  • Gift Fund
  • Transfer to Savings
  • Life Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Hulu
  • Car payment
  • Kids 529
  • Netflix
  • YMCA
  • Internet
  • Credit Card Balances
  • Student Loan Payments
  • Water Bill*
  • Groceries*
  • Fun Money (stuff to do with kiddos/girls nights in/date nights)*
  • Gasoline*

Of all of these categories, the only ones that have any difference per month are the ones I indicated with an asterisk (*). For Gas/Electric and the water bill, I averaged the cost over three months and used that amount for the budget.

The categories I included above are what is in my budget, you may have other items that my family does not. Some of the expenses such as Health Insurance and retirement savings come out of paychecks, so for our family, they are not included in our budget. You may wish to add them to your budget if you pay them directly.

Cash for some Budget Line Items: For items such as groceries, fun money, and gasoline I visit the ATM each week and take out cash. I paperclip the money for each budget line item together and keep them separate in my wallet. When the money is gone, no more spending.

Doing cash for those line items really helps me take a hard look at shopping for groceries (this is when cash back appscouponing, and price per unit knowledge all come in handy), and making sure that I am getting the best deal on gas (I have the GasBuddy app, it’s very useful). Any unspent money gets rolled over to the next week.

If you are discovering that you have too many bills and not enough money (and hey, it happens), trim where you can ( this article has some helpful suggestions), and if that’s still not enough, here are some Southern CA/San Diego based resources to help you.

Please do not be embarrassed to seek help. Resources are available to help you. If in the future you are able to give back, please do, but in the meantime, accept the help that is offered.

Next up, we’ll be talking about ways to save money on groceries and beyond. The beyond is going to be how to get toothpaste and health and beauty items for free (or really cheap) without turning into the stereotypical crazy coupon lady. Because clipping coupons out of ten plus newspapers each week is sooooo 2008. Seriously. I love to save money, but I don’t clip Sunday papers these days.

A Practical Guide to Setting A Budget (Part One)

I’ve written about budgeting before, but now more than ever so many of us need to set up a budget that works. One that is easy to stick to. There are so many ways of doing a budget, so many styles- cash envelopes, bucket/different accounts, multiple debit cards for various budget items… It can be tricky. I’m going to be breaking down the household budget, and how it can be done, how to shave money off your household expenses, and save money without suffering or feeling like you are doomed to a life of instant ramen and tap water.

Recently I re-did the household budget after noticing that spending was…Outta Control. Here are a few things that helped me:

Track all of your outgoing expenses for three months. I made a list of all the bills, expenditures, etc., and went through the banking transactions online. Then I averaged them. Using the average for each, I plugged each one into a Google Sheets page.

Some of the categories I had are:

  • Mortgage (This includes impounds for our Homeowners insurance and property taxes)
  • Gas/Electric*
  • Gift Fund
  • Transfer to Savings
  • Life Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Hulu
  • Car payment
  • Kids 529
  • Netflix
  • YMCA
  • Internet
  • Credit Card Balances
  • Student Loan Payments
  • Water Bill*
  • Groceries*
  • Fun Money (stuff to do with kiddos/girls nights in/date nights)*
  • Gasoline*

Of all of these categories, the only ones that have any difference per month are the ones I indicated with an asterisk (*). For Gas/Electric and the water bill, I averaged the cost over three months and used that amount for the budget.

The categories I included above are what is in my budget, you may have other items that my family does not. Some of the expenses such as Health Insurance and retirement savings come out of paychecks, so for our family, they are not included in our budget. You may wish to add them to your budget if you pay them directly.

Cash for some Budget Line Items: For items such as groceries, fun money, and gasoline I visit the ATM each week and take out cash. I paperclip the money for each budget line item together, and keep them separate in my wallet. When the money is gone, no more spending.

Doing cash for those line items really helps me take a hard look at shopping for groceries (this is when cash back apps, couponing, and price per unit knowledge all come in handy), and making sure that I am getting the best deal on gas (I have the gasbuddy app, it’s very useful). Any unspent money gets rolled over to the next week.

Making the ends meet: It’s important when you are adding up all expenses that once you add them up, subtract that amount from the money you bring in (wages, side hustles, selling plasma, whatever). If you are spending more than you  and you should be left with some money leftover. If you come to a negative number… Bruh, we gotta talk.

For example (and this is just an example):

  • Total income (including side hustles): $5000
  • Total household budget per month: $4500
  • Total amount leftover: $500 This leftover amount can be kept in your main account for unforeseen expenses, or move it to savings, or pay down extra on reoccurring debts (like car payment, student loans, or credit cards).

Uh, so if your number comes back negative, like this example:

  • Total income (including side hustles): $4500
  • Total household budget per month: $4600
  • Total amount leftover: -$100

Yeah. Bad times, my friends. That means you need to cut $100 from your budget. My next post about budgeting will go over what and how you can cut from your budget without feeling like you are suffering or living hand to mouth. I promise nothing crazy or nothing that I would not do myself if needed. And you can expect that post tomorrow.

Not all all related to setting a budget, but when I was searching for Budget stock photos, this photo of fruit salad was tagged “budget”. And I love fruit salad, so I had to include it. 

Family Binder: Important Info at Your Fingertips

The other day I was talking to a friend about how we store all of our information now that my computer is on the fritz/being repaired.

I mean, Most people have everything stored on their computer or on the cloud/external drive, which is great, but if your computer goes out… Are you really going to access everything via your smartphone? That was my plan originally, but after like.. oh, say 8 hours of that, I posted on Facebook, asking my friends if anyone had a spare computer or laptop I could borrow. Because don’t you know it, the computer died… 2 days before school started. When I was taking an ONLINE CLASS!!

My friends Michael and Amanda are generously loaning me their laptop, and it’s much easier to do homework and write.

IMG_3895So, how to store all the important stuff… I’m bringing back The Family Binder. It’s a 3 inch binder, with section dividers, heavy weight page protectors, and plastic folders. We’ve has one for a long time, and as we moved more to paperless bills, it got used a lot less, and became a good way of storing a copy of our monthly budget, important papers, passwords (so many passwords, you guys!).

As you can see I’ve decorated the front of the binder with photos, the Brandon Bird SVU Valentine’s Day card Mr. Husband got for me years back, sonograms of the kiddos. You can make it as plain or fancy as you’d like.

IMG_3901I use some of the pages from the household notebook section of Organized Home.  I love the holiday printables from Organized Home the best. I’ve been using them since 2010, and they really help us stay on budget and keep track of all of the shenanigans that the holidays bring!

Additionally, I have extra sections for vacation planning, important papers (marriage license, vaccination records, copies of prescriptions/ list of all of our medications, birth certificates, kids social security cards, insurance id cards/policy information, and a copy of the deed to our home), and vehicle maintenance. IMG_3896I have a folder tucked in the front pocket of the binder for the big kids educational/medical stuff like his most recent IEP, Regional Center correspondence, and copies of his medical diagnostic paperwork.

I know a lot of you are reading this thinking that most of this information can be accessed online or via your smartphone, but think about when you will most likely need to access this binder… In an emergency. Not the time you want to drain the battery on your phone trying to figure out what your homeowners insurance policy number is, or your insurance agents phone number.  I also keep notebook paper in the back, in case of an emergency. If nothing else, it’ll keep the kids entertained!

If you want to make your own Family Binder, you can put as much work into it as you’d like. I made ours while I was pregnant and nesting with the big kid. So I went to town with with laminating sheets, scrapbooking stickers, decals, paper, and all kinds of doo-dads. I even made a family binder for my Sister-in-Law and her husband when they got married.  Just make sure that you store extra empty page protectors in the back- you never know when you’ll need to add more information!

I keep ours in a safe, easily accessible location, in case we need to leave the house. Living in San Diego County, it will most likely be a wild fire that causes us to leave home. We live too far inland and up high enough where rising flood/excessive rain water won’t touch us.

Talk back: If you have a family binder, I’d love for you to share photos in the comments or post pics on Instagram and tag me: @hewesfamilyfun  using #familybinder.

 

Setting up a Family First Aid Kit!

file0001924831000.jpgWhen you have kids or are accident prone (like I am), a comprehensive first aid kit is a must. After so many years and iterations, this is the first aid kit that works best for our family.

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Before!

Earlier this week, I set to clear out any old/expired ointments, medications, bandages (they don’t expire, but they can become… unsticky), and re-organize. The kids were asleep, so it was the perfect time to get started. I did have one helper. Fiona. Her idea of help was to jump into the first aid box whenever it was empty.

A few years ago, we started off with a pretty well-stocked First Aid Kit, which you can see in the photos is the black, cloth, zippered pouch.  Since we take it camping with us, I’ve also added tampons (They have practical first aid uses as well), Arnica cream, extra scissors, hemostats, and hand sanitizer. It lives under our bathroom sink, and is easily accessible in case of emergency. It’s great- I’ve replaced stuff as we’ve used it, but it’s really not an “All you need” when you are accident prone.

 

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The aftermath!

 

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I love both of these products!

In addition,  we need burn cream, stuff for bruises, Wart Remover kit (little boys!), Cold Calm, Oscillococcinum (for flu like symptoms), Arnicare (which is awesome for leg cramps), a temporal scanner thermometer, Ben Gay (Don’t Judge!), CBD oil products, Rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide (not shown), and exam gloves (which are great for stuff besides cleaning up owies). For that, I turned to a Sterilite plastic shoe box without a lid- I’m sure it broke years ago.

Once all of the old/gross/expired stuff was disposed of safely, I scrubbed out the box, labeled it, and repacked it. Because this box does not have a lid on it, it’s kept on the top shelf of the linen closet.

I really want to thank the awesome folks at Boiron for hooking me up with free products at last weeks Wow Summit. I love their products! I have been a fan for years. I bruise like a grape, so Arnicare gel and roll-on are life.

Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 7.12.50 PM
My Helper, Fiona!

Talkback: I’d love to hear what’s in your family’s First Aid kit! If you don’t have one, now is your chance to grab a plastic tote and get started!

 

Prepare for Wild Fires & Natural Disasters: What to Pack in Your Bug Out Bag

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As most of you are aware, there are a few current wild fires going on in Southern California. And that means that some of our friends, family, and neighbors are having to evacuate their homes.

During times like this is hard to distill your entire life into whatever you can load into your vehicle or carry on your back.  I lived through the 2003 and the 2007 wild fires in San Diego. In 2003, we had no power for 3 days, but we didn’t have to evacuate. We had everything packed up and ready to go just in case, as the fire was just up over the hill.

At that time, we received a lot of great advice in regards to what we should be taking with us. That includes:

1.Meds for everyone- If you have a chronic health condition, pack your meds into your purse/bag FIRST (but make sure they are easily accessible). If you have meds that need to be kept cold, have blue ice packs stashed in your freezer.  Having a good First Aid kit you can grab is important too. We have this one at our house- It’s been very helpful.

2. The next few items can be kept all together in a box some place safe. If not originals, then copies of each.

  • Health Insurance Cards for everyone in the house (this includes pets).
  • Car insurance ID cards, Registration for all cars (especially if you have to leave one or more behind).
  • Information on your homeowners/condo unit owners/renters insurance. If you don’t have a copy of the policy, have your agent/Insurance carrier email you a copy and print it out. Write down and take contact information for your land lord or mortgage company (including your loan number).
  • Birth certificates, Marriage licenses, Passports (We keep all of our important papers in a family binder, along with copies of one of each of our bills, so I can have account numbers and contact numbers for each utility/creditor).
  • Food for pets, any special snacks or food that everyone in your home needs in case of dietary concerns.

3. If you are in a hurry, instead of trying to pack bags of clothes, grab your laundry hamper. Sure the clothes are dirty, but more than likely, everything you need for a few days will be in there.

4. Family heirlooms: Wrap paintings/art in blankets and layer them flat in a vehicle. Most people keep their photos on a terabyte drive or the cloud instead of family photo albums these days. Grab your albums and/or your external hard drives.

5. A Dop Kit/Toiletry Kit, diapers and wipes if you’ve got kiddos.

That’s pretty much the important stuff. Other stuff if you have time…

  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Something to keep your hands/mind busy (books, magazines, knitting, small crafts, coloring
  • Extra chargers/cables for any and all devices you are taking with you. Portable emergency charger (like this one).

Most local fire agencies have a twitter feed you can follow too to keep up to date.

 

**This post contains links to products on Amazon. These are affiliate links, and I might earn a commission if you purchase them.