Mar 4, 2010

Update on my New Year's Resolution: End of February

Back in January, I shared my financial resolution for this year, which is to save a crazy amount of money to create a large cash cushion. I promised a monthly update, so here it is: we've saved 13.9% of our goal so far.

Last month, that number stood at 3% and I was rather disappointed. However, in calculating this month's numbers, I realized that I was off, and that we actually saved just over 5% last month. Since I was quite disappointed last month, it was nice, albeit also embarrassing, to spot that error this month.

One thing I did this month was reduce the extra principal we put towards our mortgage and redirect that money into savings, which added another 2% of our savings goal. California's economic situation is so dire right now that hoarding cash and building up savings seems much more important than paying off the mortgage faster - even though that is something I would very much like to do. We plan on sticking with this new plan indefinitely.

Just like last month, we did many things to help us get closer to our savings goal. I really do all of the things I recommend in my Ways to Make & Save Money series, and I've been tweaking some of those things to better suit our savings style, like snowflaking extra money into the savings account by depositing rebate checks into an account that's not at the bank where we keep most of our money. Since that means the snowflaked money gets nowhere near the checking account, it stays in savings permanently.

Another thing I've been doing is taking a closer look at our spending, and especially at what I spend on groceries and household items (there isn't much wiggle room left in our budget!). Our spending on food is higher than most families in part because I buy organic milk, organic/antibiotic and hormone-free meat, RBST-free cheese and yogurt, and organic produce. These items are not cheap - a gallon of organic milk is $5.49 on sale, and I usually need 2 gallons a week, plus another 1/2 gallon at $3.29-$3.49 to leave at the .boys' preschool. I'm not obsessive about organic products, but we can afford them and I don't see any reason to put extra chemicals in my boys' bodies if I don't have to.

However, I'm now working harder than ever to keep my grocery and household spending down. I'm chasing more deals at the drugstores and grocery stores. I'm making more trips to different stores, and thinking harder about where my money is going. My price book has more entries than ever before, and my target prices keep going down. My goal is to get my monthly spending down while still getting these high quality foods for my family, by buying them on sale and stockpiling when possible.

One thing I'm worried about now is that we may need to buy a new oven, since my small oven died last month. We're getting along for the moment with the big oven and toaster oven, but the big oven emitted a funny smell the last time I used it and we're hoping that it was just because it hasn't been much. (While I greatly appreciate all of the part-finding suggestions, we've concluded that we don't have the skills or confidence to do our own repair, so the cost of the labor wouldn't be worth fixing the oven.) I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we won't have to spend $1000 or (likely) more on the kitchen anytime soon.

Because I'm hoping that our progress in March will be as good as our progress in February!

1 comment:

Camille said...

We are at about 50% of our goal for a new car and that was the easy part thanks to a hefty tax refund (which also means I need to look at our withholding!). The other 50% is not so easy and I'm doing the same as you -- pinching pennies HARD!

I've been thinking about saving every $5 bill I get (I've read this tip several places) just to see how much I can save up that way! :-) Every little bit helps!