What a difference a few changes made
With the year and a half of zero balance budgeting focus on costs that could be reduced. We began Dave Ramsey's program 18 months ago or so.
Utilities are our only other monthly after the mortgage. I began to focus on what numbers could be whittled down. On our budget we use % based categories. Depending on misc quarterly and yearly bills (that are saved up for on each monthly cycle) some months those %'s alter.
5-15 % utilities (Electric, water, phone, internet. We have a pay as you go cell for emergency us only)
5-15% groceries (people and pets)
5-15% personal (includes, life insurance, computer, allowance,school supplies, holiday gifts and pet care, mag subscriptions)
2-7 % clothing (adults, kids)
5-10% savings (major fund to cover 3 months wage is the goal, kids education)
10-15 % transportation (includes auto ins. broken into months and set aside as well as a line if we were to have to pay a deductible, fuel and repair, registration)
5-10% recreation (movie purchase, restaurants, travel fund, admissions)
5-10% medical/health (co-pay, Rx, durable medical, dental)
There is a column for actual and one for the estimates. After studying the estimates the budget is set. Fudge room is added. One upon a time I did not have a line for recreation and learned that it is a very necessary thing that gives muscle to the goal. Something to shoot for.
One day I will do gross instead of net and add a line of all the payroll deduction such as medical ins., taxes, and the like.
This has worked well for us and we were actually able to get a vacation to Disney this year.
We are on a payment plan of the balanced budget with the electric company so we pay the same every month. It is reviewed every four months. Recently it came down $25! a month with a bit of hard work
Hanging out laundry
shade screen (came with the house)
duel pane windows ( came with the house)
time of use plan (1-8pm in summer to reduce electric use) run machines at morning of evening hour
Kids training :)
Watch the sun open West windows in a.m., East windows in p.m. Closing east in a.m. and closing West in afternoon.
Run fans and AC is set a bit higher
Chill house during overnight hours
AC is on a timer set to the time of use schedule
as is the water heater
Calking is the last thing yet needed to be done now.
The opening of the laundry room door to the garage every time we needed to fetch something, plus the garage being 120+ during summer gave us pause. It was the last thing on my list. A list that has been a year long goal. It is said that it can save at the least $15-20 a month per unit.
We are now testing the inside temps on each unit.
The freezer of one was set too low.
This will make mornings of making lunches all in a few steps span. The juice travel cups will be kept here as they were in the garage.