Friday, January 2, 2015
Budgeting in 2015
-called the cable company after hearing about a $7 increase per month in internet fees. Advised them that I wanted to review my existing usage for TV, cable and internet compared to the competitor (there is only one in our area). I really don't want to change providers or our package as we review it almost monthly and it suits our personal and business needs. Their "loyalty department" decreased our monthly bill by $372 over the next six months which is a special they would give new customers. We still need a land line with unlimited long distance in USA and Canada for our business, and at the same time are on a tier 2 of internet usage based on 3 of us using it for business and streaming. There were no services we could cut at this time so we end up with exactly the same service but cheaper.
Wahoo! Once day we likely will drop our basic TV package but at this time are not yet willing to do so (*would have dropped it by now if it was up to me but hubby is not willing to give up all his news channels). We also have Netflix Canada for $7.99 a month and are using it now more than ever.
-created our 2015 home budget which is personal to each family so will just be sharing a few figures. We no longer have child support so our expenses are now solely month to month as have no mortgage, no car payments or loans. When you eventually get to a place in life where you own everything you have and don't finance things - life is much cheaper. This allows us to both work for our company without putting undue pressure on the business. We run certain items through the business like our cell phones and gas which are legitimate items. I treat our business expenses like our personal ones so am always trying to get things cheaper and keep costs low. We are taking salaries much lower than the company could afford but this past year the company started paying us back all our start up costs. If we continue to do well our goal is to have the company finish paying us back by end of 2015 (was a loan from us to our corporation) and give ourselves raises in 2016. Our biggest personal expenses are now medical, electricity and groceries. As we are self employed we could choose to purchase a benefit package but the ones I have researched do not meet our needs as exclude pre-existing conditions so in the end would cost us more than paying as we go. Electricity rates are increasing by 6% starting in April. We only have one electricity provider so I need to figure out ways to cut costs. I have started sharing the amount of each electricity bill with hubby and stepdaughter as a way of encouraging them to shut off lights when leaving the room but will resort to unplugging things if necessary as I am now the electricity police. We paid $1611 in 2014 for electricity which is our primary source of heat (heat pump with AC) and $672 for natural gas which serves our fireplace, BBQ and heats the water in our hot water tank. I don't think it is realistic to think we could decrease those amounts in 2015 due to price increases and having a 3rd adult in the home since October 2014 so would be happy if we can keep them as close to the same as possible - even with price increases.
-sorted out my coupon folder - and quickly realized I hardly used coupons in 2014. I still believe in them but in Canada couponing frankly - sucks. I have done far better in the past year with loyalty point programs (Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart) so while I will continue to use those my strategy is changing. I will carry the coupons I actually think I will use in my wallet every day rather than having a separate coupon caddy which never got used and coupons were occasionally missed which totally drives me crazy.
-figured out a plan for saving for Christmas 2015. In years previous I have saved $1000 in cash all year round to pay for gifts and food at Christmas (we buy for 4 kids, 2 parents, 1 nephew and ourselves). This year I still intend to do that but taking a page from Sonya Ann over at A Mom, Money, and More I am going to save all our points/money on the side for Christmas this year. At the end of the year I will tally up what freebies/money on the side has been saved and transfer that cash directly into our travel fund instead. These freebies will consist of using Swagbucks for amazon.ca gift certificates, refund from gasoline cooperative, blog income, survey income and any extra money on the side that comes my way. I already have $15 in cash in the Christmas 2015 fund and $7.68 left over in amazon.ca gift cards to start this plan off.
-decided on a plan of action to keep our grocery purchases as low as possible. In the past I have allotted myself a monthly limit for groceries. A better way for us to stay on track is to stock pile when things are at their absolute lowest price. W spent $5966 on groceries in 2015. That includes 2 adults January through September and 3 adults from October onward. It also includes all over the counter medications, cleaning supplies and non-food products which frankly are the budget killers. Last year we purchased a Costco basic membership after not going there for several years (*we have no other warehouse stores or cash and carry type places anywhere near here). I just upgraded that to the executive membership as realized over the course of the year we use it enough to get a major rebate in the cost of the membership and this is now the primary way I save on over the counter medications. I wish Costco had more basic pantry items in Canada (good luck finding regular flour or sugar) but we are careful what we buy there and feel the savings far outweigh the membership costs. I take my mother when I go and basically we share the membership. As she is on a limited pension we absorb the cost but her purchases go towards our membership rebate.
So that in a nutshell is my current money saving strategy. We definitely could do better in the grocery category, and now that I have reduced our entertainment expenses am going to tackle our energy issues. Everyone has choices. We chose to purchase a hot tub two years ago and have enjoyed using it but as a result our energy usage is higher than it could be. We choose to have cable TV, although it is a basic package. One day we might drop that. Do you have any money saving strategies that you would like to share?