I have been blessed (though sometimes it feels cursed) with an extremely frugal husband. Early on in our marriage, we decided that credit cards aren't for us and he is has always been very mindful of how we spend our money. We are blessed to have no debt aside from the house. We haven't necessarily used a budget for most of our marriage, simply because we have been comfortable DINK's (Dual Income No Kids), but I have quickly realized that we need to get on the ball of that. I searched high and low for good budget programs, but my struggle is always that we don't have consistent income. A large portion of Jordan's income is commission based. So we have NO idea what he is making month to month. Then I found the answer... YNAB (You Need A Budget).
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this system. The whole premise is living off of the previous month's income. So when you get a paycheck, it goes into your budget for the following month, and it is not based on what your expected income for the month is. Rather, it is based on what you have already made. I LOVE THIS. So - I have been putting my paychecks into savings, or a "Baby Fund" to help pay for all of these expenses. It is so nice to have peace of mind, knowing we will have PLENTY to be able to afford this baby when he comes... not to mention he is due around tax season! Yippee!! But seriously, if you are looking for an EASY and just freeing budget system, look into YNAB. It does cost about $50 for the software, but once you have it all the upgrades are free and I just love it. So there is my YNAB plug.
Another thing I have been looking into is E-Mealz. Sometimes I do get in the mood to cook or bake and be creative and make yummy stuff. But, the regular every-day "what's for dinner" drives me crazy. I am horrible at making a meal plan and sticking to it. I just don't really love cooking and hate planning for it even more. This means I end up buying a lot of stuff that I don't have a real plan for and so it goes bad in my fridge (zucchini seems to be the main spoiled item in our fridge... I love it, but when I don't have a plan, it doesn't get used).
SO - E-Mealz is a menu-planning program that plans your weekly dinners and gives you a grocery list. It is supposed to help you save money simply by giving you a plan and doing that work for you. I need this. And... even BETTER is that they have a gluten-free plan!!! Yippee!! They are meant for larger families and give you 7 meals a week, so I can simply pick 3-4 meals in a week and use those and we will have leftovers. This will also help us save money. They have plans for 2 person families, but unfortunately not gluten-free. I first heard about this on Dave Ramsey, and decided to look into it. It does cost $12.50 for 3 months, but to me that is worth a shot for sure. So - I am going to give it a try and I will keep you updated on how I like it! Hopefully those "what's for dinner" moments will lessen tremendously and we will eat more healthily.
FINALLY... on top of E-Mealz, I have been going to SavingAddiction.com to get insight into the best deals at the stores I shop at! It will tell me what is on sale at Meijer and if there are any coupons available to make it an even better deal. I stock up on the coupons for items that are staples for us and so far at my best trip I saved $59!! And, best of all, it is FREE!
Hopefully all of these methods combined will help us save money and have a household that runs a lot more smoothly. I am all about making life more simple (and cheap!!).