Thursday, January 27, 2011

B is for Budgeting

One of the things that Melissa and I have begun to do again after lapsing for a little while is to sit down and set out an expected monthly income and expenses budget for our business as well as our household. We just got done doing February's a few minutes ago. I'm not going to lie and call the whole experience fun because we aren't that anal retentive...I'd compare it to a routine trip to the dentist on the fun scale, but it is very eye opening and it can be very productive and proactive. At the very least, it keeps us from fighting cats and dogs while playing the blame game with one another's supposedly quirky (and expensive) hobbies ! :)

Although we don't always choose to act on the information presented in our monthly budget, knowing where we could choose to trim the fat is very empowering. One category of expenses that is going to get a pretty severe pruning is our household food budget. Of late we've become very guilty of buying things because they are convenient. More often than not, convenience, especially the pre-packaged kind, is at the opposite end of the spectrum from healthy and inexpensive. One of the time consuming things we did tonight was re-work our weekly menu to eliminate expenses while eating healthier meals and not sacrificing much in the way of convenience. Going to the store with a plan of attack actually makes me happy. If we can make a game out of beating the food budget while eating healthy, we'll be well on the road to success in this area of our lives. In fact, making a game out of ALL of it is one of the keys to making our budget successful !

On the business side, we seem to have accrued a lot of new horses this fall and for some reason transitioning them to our way of doing things in the winter takes a lot more grain and a lot more hay than we would normally go through. As we expected it would, this showed up last month in markedly higher than normal grain and hay expenses. Unfortunately there isn't much we can do about our big feed bill this year except to wait longingly for spring grass. Our groups all contain mixtures of easy and hard keepers, there is a limit as to how good a quality forage I can feed in the winter...which is the easiest and cheapest fix....without turning the easy keepers into obese monsters as soon as they transition from hay to lush grass.

While it's very necessary to do so, reviewing the previous month's proposed budget against actual expenses is a pretty good way to start a fight with one's spouse unless some ground rules get laid down first ! Thankfully, this is one of a few areas in which we've never had a serious argument. Melissa and I are on the same page with regards to budgeting which is good since there is only one pool of money in our house.

Hope everyone is having a good week and that everyone is prepared for tax time. We'll be buring the midnight oil around here the next few days on that front for sure. In fact, I'd about bet money that my next post is going to be a rant about taxes. I have a sneakin' notion that Uncle Sam's gonna be pretty deep in my pockets some time between now and April 15.


Funder said...

I know all about Melissa's expensive hobby, but what's yours?

Self-employed taxes are the worst.

Do you have a Food Saver vacuum freezer guy? It's SO worth the money. Make some packets of frozen food - just make extra when you normally cook - and you've got that zero-effort meal waiting for you.

(Ok, you still have to plan ahead enough to throw something from the freezer to the oven an hour ahead of time, but that's way easier than cooking some days.)

Jason said...

Mine isn't so much a hobby as a lifestyle adjustment. I've suffered with fairly severe back problems for a number of years and I've controlled the pain with a combination of chiropractic and massage therapy. That might be okay if it actually worked on the pain, but it often doesn't.

After toting up what I am spending each month I can pretty well promise that I'm going to schedule some time at the bone and joint clinic as well as with a physiotherapist to actually try treating the problem.

Oh the joys of aging.