Revisioning finances

I went on maternity in early October as my blood pressure elevated and my feet swelled. Two trips to the hospital which became four were enough to keep me home and off my feet until I delivered Lentil. The school district used my sick days to cover the first part of the leave (about 2/3 of October) before shifting to extended leave; at this point, my monthly salary pays for the long term sub who is teaching my class for the rest of the school year. In a few weeks, when my eight weeks of maternity is up, I’ll be off the books on a leave of absence. Mister and I will have to cover the cost of my insurance, either through cobra or I find an alternative for the year.

We sat down and went through our household budget to make sure we could manage on his salary. We use Wesabe, Mister’s company, to set spending limits and track our budget.

One of our weakest spending areas is food. We eat out too much, especially for folks who like to cook and own too many cookbooks. This last summer, between Mister’s work schedule and my pregnancy, cooking wasn’t much fun so we used any excuse possible to eat out. I’m ashamed to disclose what our monthly spending was, but it was silly high. No surprisingly having a baby has cut our dining out bills remarkably, but then, we are also shopping smarter and cooking more. We use our Marin Sun Farms meat CSA regularly, as opposed to never. Or, worse yet, we’d take meat out and defrost it, then not use it. Waste, waste, waste. The chickens are happier, too, because they get vegetable scraps more often. It’s a win-win for the household.

On my own, I looked for recurring bills that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t need. For example, I said good-bye to Earthlink, an account I’ve had for nearly a decade. With the advent of gmail and my mac.com account, I didn’t need to spend even $9.95 a month for Earthlink ($120 a year). I also cut out Pogo.com, a $5.95 a month game site that’s a time suck. With a new baby in the house, I don’t need a time suck that isn’t all about her. Last to go was my typepad account. Frankly, I prefer typepad to wordpress for various reasons, including ease of list management, but it was another $8.95 a month I could cut with little pain.

One of Wesabe’s users, CymbidiumKelly, instituted a “no spend month,” hoping to save $1500 in a month. Can you imagine what you’d save if you cut out your morning lattes, dining out, movies, more yarn your stash doesn’t need? Check it here.

Being out of work and reworking our household budget has made me look at my money very differently than I have in a long time. What else can I cut? What can I sell? How can I help keep us on budget?

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