Hey! It’s the zombie blogger!
You can’t get rid of me that easily. -Especially since I’m getting the homestead back up and running.-
One of the things that I was thinking about as I was folding kitchen cloth is that I have a lot of tips and projects scattered across the blog, but I’ve never really sat down to talk about how to start to [urban] homestead.
Most of this information won’t be earth-shatteringly new and I’ll probably bore people with more developed skills. But we all have to start somewhere, and not everyone is going to need a lot of intense tips to get up and going. Maybe it’ll be good for a refresher-at this stage, I’m not really learning skills so much as I’m starting to reuse skills I’ve had for awhile.
The first major step is figuring out how much money you have at your disposal. There’s a lot of ways to do it, including a lot of on line based trackers. Your bank may even offer one already.
The basics of your budget should look like this:
- How much money you bring in, from all sources-including income, income support, what’s now being called beer money sites on Reddit like S.w.agbucks (WordPress is weirdly sensitive to that word), sales, trades, and whatnot. I’ll talk about trades in a later entry.
- Once you have your total income, you need to figure out what you’re actually spending. And I do mean, actually spending. Your bills are probably going to be obvious-but you need to track the morning coffee and work lunches [I’m not going to be the blogger that tells you to stop buying that type of stuff, this isn’t a series on pulling yourself out of a hole].
- The easiest way get a solid feel for what you’re spending is visually. Use a receipt app like Re.ceiptHo.g that will hold everything for you or just a spreadsheet. Track it for at least a week, but aim for a month. It’ll give you a feel for what you’re up to. Remember, this isn’t a guilt thing.
- Now that you know what you’re spending you can start moving stuff around. Take your total income, and subtract out your bills. Then subtract out -something- for savings, even if it’s $2 a pay cycle. Anything. Get in the habit of saving. I’m not trying to be preachy and this is my hardest budgeting hurdle right now. I’m not exactly 100% solvent myself [I’m all for honesty].
- You now have your net income. You can now look at your tracker and figure out what you need to put where for things like groceries and transportation-and where you can start to cut back or get creative. I boost our grocery budget with Target gift cards and buy my coffee with Starbucks gift cards from beer money sites. Are you in fact spending a truly excessive amount of money on food outside the house [that will vary from person to person]? Short of actual financial emergency like job loss, you will probably not need to readjust too much-you just will see where you can cut back on to increase comfort and start building up your savings-or just cut down on stress if you’re living check to check.
- There are ways of boosting a budget without too much deprivation. I brew a lot of cold brew at home, I learned to make a lot of my favorite foods at home, and buying six packs of soda are still cheaper than single 20 ounce bottles. Yes, there are probably things that could be dropped entirely for most people-soda is as controversial as tobacco in some of my social circles-but I’m not going to tell you to stop giving yourself the stuff you love outright. Just find ways of paying less for it. Target’s Cartwheel app and the Ibotta app are both good for name brand stuff-and if you use beer money sites, you can actually potentially get some of it for free.
- In terms of bills-make sure you pay late as infrequently as possible. That one seems obvious, but it’s going to cost you a decent amount of money in the long run to keep paying late fees. If it’s a matter of splitting bills across checks, call and see if they’ll shift your due date. Some companies will. If for whatever reason life happens, call and see if they take a split payment or work out a repayment plan. Make sure you’re on the right plan-especially for your phone and cable. Look into something like Netflix if you’re not watching a lot of cable.