Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Living on Less - Tip #1

Tip #1 - Pack your lunch instead of buying

There are many creative, fun and tasty foods to take for daily lunches ... even if, like me, you can't heat up your mid-day meals.

The savings over purchasing a lunch is substantial and will really help your food budget.

I'll be posting some of my daily lunches in the near future. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Saving Money On ... Groceries

A Price Book - here's how mine works.....

Because I live in a rural area, I choose to do most of my shopping at the local Price Chopper, with a couple trips a year to Sams to stock up on bulk items.

In order to keep my food budget under control, I keep a price book (or list in my case) to track the lowest prices.

On Word, I made a table with columns for the product name, size and unit price. There's another column to list dates that I see the lowest price advertised, and a place to write in a lower price when I find one. So it looks like ...

Hot Dogs, all beef per lb. 1.23 6/18, 8/30, 1/5
Cheese, Sharp Cheddar brick per lb. 2.99 12/17, 2/4
Oatmeal, instant 18 oz. 0.95 9/24, 1/7

Print out the list for reference. Each weekend, I look through the sales flyer and write down any prices that are lower than my price list. I check which items are at their "lowest" price and add them to my shopping list. I try to match the lowest prices with coupons.

Every few months, I update my Word file and print a fresh copy of the list.

If you want to track prices from several stores, simply add a "lowest price" column for each store you frequent. If there is a store in your area that will match advertised prices from other stores, you have it made! Just clip out the ads and take them with you.

More ideas for Saving Money on Groceries coming soon ...

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Saving Money On ... Electricity

  • Instead of the dryer, use a folding drying rack to dry clothes
  • Replace standard bulbs with flourescents
  • Visit for energy calculators, information about savings on newer appliances, and a directory of energy suppliers.
  • Watch for upcoming posts about saving money on heating & cooling costs

Saving Money On ... Phone Bills

  • Try out to find long-distance plans, cell phone rates and internet service at the best rates. My phone card just ran out, so I used this site to help me locate the best long-distance plan in my area.
  • Reconsider all the add-on services from your phone company ... do you really need caller ID? call waiting?
  • Looking for a new calling card? Compare rates at
  • Be aware that long-distance rates differ between in-state and out-of-state.
  • Calling card calls to mobile phones may be charged at a higher rate.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Need Help?

The process of developing a budget can be overwhelming! That's why I offer interactive tools and online help through Google Docs & Spreadsheets. On Google Docs, I've developed a form you can use to track your spending, as well as other forms for the budgeting process. These interactive tools allow me to work alongside you as you develop your budget, just as if we could sit down together at the kitchen table! If you request assistance, you do not need to provide any personally identifying information beyond your email address.
  • Email me at cresanna @ (delete the spaces ... those are there to avoid the webcrawlers)
  • Make sure to include your email address.
  • I will set up a form for you and send an invitation to your email.
  • You can sign into Google (it's easy to register if you haven't before) and begin entering information into the form.

Questions? Email me ....

A Good Measure - Step 2

After you have completed Step 1 (tracking all spending for 2-3 months), it's time to see where your money is going.
  1. Take a piece of paper and make columns for Food, Clothing, Childcare, Utilities, Rent, Debt, Gas, etc, etc.
  2. Go through your notebook, looking at one month at a time.
  3. Divide up your expenses into the various categories.
  4. At the end of Step 2, you should have 3 monthly totals for each category.

You now are beginning to see where your money is going.

A Good Measure - Step 1

The first step in developing a plan to live on what you make is to find out where you are right now. To do this, you need to start tracking where your money is going. Here's how:
  1. Commit to tracking your spending. You don't have to change your spending habits right now. We're just going to start writing it down.
  2. Get a notebook and carry it with you at ALL times.
  3. Write down every time you spend money immediately. Make sure to include purchases by cash, credit or check. Record how much you spent and for what (how much for food, movies, clothing, electric bill, etc). Be specific.
  4. Plan to track your spending in detail for 2-3 months.