Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The "F" Word . . . Finances

When we first got married it soon became apparent that we would need to work on some sort of financial planning. Some of our family members suggested that we look into Dave Ramsey for some practical advice. We read through his book, "The Total Money Makeover," and found some good common sense ways to manage our household finances. One of the main things we came away with was the monthly budget. At the start of every month we sit down and decide where every cent we make that month is going. (As Dave says, we spend it first "on paper, on purpose.") Following this routine has helped us to get out of debt, except the mortgage.

Financial planning has also helped me to be a better household planner. Since we only have so much allotted for groceries in a month, I better figure out what I am going to make and what I am going to need to make it. I take a pretty laid-back approach to menu planning. I look through recipes (from books, magazines, binders, the internet) and pick out around 20 dishes that sound good. Armed with a shopping list, I hit the grocery store and buy almost everything that I will need to make those dishes. (Obviously some perishables won't last through the month and I take that into account while shopping.) When it comes time to answer the age-old question, "What's for dinner?" I simply pick the dish that I would like to make that night and go.

Throughout the month I make small additional trips to the grocery store to pick up extra milk or veggies or whatever else we may end up needing. I also make sure to have some ready to bake items on hand like frozen pizzas. This way when I don't feel like cooking all I have to do is heat up the oven and we have food.

I took this picture of the fridge yesterday after unloading all of the groceries for the month.
And you know, it works. We never have gone hungry.