Last year and the year before that, I thought, "This is the year we'll get a real budget figured out. This is the year we'll really SAVE money again." I THINK I tried to be more mindful of my spending. I THINK I tried to donate things we didn't use, rather than hold on to them for possible future purposes.
But this year, I found the Living Well, Spending Less site. More specifically, I found the 31 day challenge. Guys, this really shook things up for me. I actually printed out and signed the 'commitment' page, I cleaned out my pantry and inventoried the contents. I made the freezer list, the meal idea list, and wrote down what I would NOT be spending money on.
Comparing this January to January of 2013, I spent about $1,000 less. I cleaned out my closet, I donated a pretty sizable pile of clothes, books, kitchen items, toys, and unused decor. We still have more than we need but it's getting better.
As a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, it's FAR too easy to use the "we need to get out of the house" excuse. Yes, we sometimes need to just be away from these walls but we can just walk outside when the weather is decent. We can get out of the house and go drop off donation items. We can get out of the house and go see a friend or cousin.
Lists are important these days. A list of tasks makes it easier to feel like I'm accomplishing something, even if the list just breaks an assignment down into its most basic components. A list of what we need at the store is essential, if we're going to stop impulse buys. It's hard. There's always something that I think "Oh, I'm sure I can work that into this week's menu" or "I don't have that yet..." about. But those things cost money and if I REALLY need them, they'll be available next week or next month or whenever.
What I discovered last month is that the things I talked myself out of by saying I'd fit it into THIS month's budget, I didn't remember to fit into this budget. I don't even remember what those needs or wants were, honestly. It's humbling to realize that I think of things as needs that aren't and even the "wants" disappear if I just walk away from them for long enough.
February is nearly 2 weeks in and so far, we're on track to spend half the amount we spent in February of last year. We might manage to actually set money aside this year to pay off the smaller house mortgage.