Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ruminating on Returning

How do you feel about returns?  I've worked my fair share of retail and I'm torn on the subject.  More to the point, I'm a hypocrite.  As a retail employee I loathed returns.  I'd put on my happy face and try to turn it around, but inside I was screaming, "Why didn't you try that on before you walked out of the store???  Why didn't you think before you pulled out that credit card??"

My shopping self is the exact opposite.  Here's my basic shopping method - 1. Go wander.  2. Find an "amazing" deal that I can't pass up.  3. Purchase it without thought to whether or not my child reeeaaallly needs that 323094382th long sleeve shirt. 4. Go home and feel guilty for three weeks.  5. Return said item to store, head hanging low.

Well the madness needs to stop!!!  Luckily with my whole budget thing happening these days I'm not in a position to do much random shopping, but because I'm me I am able to get myself into toy-buying trouble at Kroger.  Yep, Kroger.  To be fair, it's a Kroger Marketplace so it's essentially like visiting a mini-mini-Target every time I stop in for groceries.  But holy moly, this past month I spent $100+ on random toys there.  I was packing them away for birthdays, but they weren't even ones I knew my kids would go bananas over.  They were just good deals.  So. Back into my trunk they go, and while the monkeys play at school tomorrow I will be dutifully returning to Kroger to return the crazy and hopefully find my sanity.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

March Budget Challenge

Oh hello there, dear blog.  Long time no see...oops.

I'll do a life catch-up post sometime soon, but right now I want to give myself a kick in the butt and some over-the-internet-motivation for my upcoming personal challenge.

I've been working on our budget since January and the areas I need to work on are blatantly obvious.  1 - Kim needs to step away from and Target.  
2 - The Cocuzzi clan needs to stop getting takeout.
3 - Kim needs to stop buying groceries.  Or at least meal plan and stick to a grocery list.

I've been working on #1 on the list for the past 2 months and am getting much better, so mission pretty-much-accomplished there.  It's obnoxious not being able to shop but it's getting easier. This month I unfortunately blew the random stuff shopping budget, but it was on couldn't-avoids like baby shower gifts, upgraded electrical everything to the house, buying a car...ugh.  I'll get it right in March.

#2 and #3 are somewhat tied together, because the less I meal plan the more we eat out.  

So. I'm breaking this down for myself to get it right this time.  Get a system in place that works so we're eating healthfully and frugally at the same time.  It's possible, I swear it is, I just have to figure it out.

Inspiration: - One of my go-to blogs for recipes and real food inspirations.  Lisa and her family are an inspiration when it comes to real food living.  We're definitely not as intense as they are in terms of what we will/won't eat, but I admire what they do and love to try out their recipes! - This is a recent discovery but I'm completely intrigued by it.  The entire premise is eating real food on a budget.  Cha Ching!!!  I signed up for the newsletter and received the budgeting worksheets, which I proceeded to fill out over the course of several hours.  It was some serious work, but let me tell you that holy moly did those worksheets really open my eyes to my grocery purchases.  So glad I took the time to do them! I'll be digging into this site more over the next couple weeks.


I have all the tools you would think I would need - a menu board in the kitchen, a grocery list spot on the fridge, an Excel spreadsheet for long-term meal planning, my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (because I've figured out it's the ONLY cookbook I'll use consistently), Pinterest...but somehow it always falls apart.  

I've been experimenting with how to keep better track of my expenses.  I've tried fancy apps for this purpose, but I never use them.  What I use day in and day out is Notes.  So in my sad little Aha moment I decided to start tracking purposes by just making little categories in Notes and marking down every receipt.  Shocker of shockers, it's actually working for me!  So Notes it is.  Notes will be my saving grace when it comes to budgeting.  Who knew a built-in little app would be doing all this heavy lifting for me?  


Get my spending to around $125/week on groceries, $20/week for dining out during the month of March.  Family of four, mostly real food, not including alcohol or coffee (because Mama needs coffee and wine, Daddy needs whiskey, and no one needs to know what we spend on that business :)  ), and household/personal items.  I want to focus on the food and only the food. I intend to report in here with my purchases and hopefully some recipes to inspire me to continue on!

And now I better get moving on some major meal planning...ugh, the hardest part of the whole darn thing!