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Winter Blues Bring Budget Inspiration

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It is so hard to get inspired in the cold of the winter, so this week is about refocusing on positives.

I took my lunch to work 4 days last week and 2 days this week. My goal is to eat in at least four days a week. I am eating healthier food and saving cash. I tossed $20 in my change jar last week to account for the eating out that did not happen. My lunches with tips generally cost $7 a day; taking lunch to work costs $2 a day. For every day I brown bag, I am paying myself $5.00. I have not yet decided what to do with that money. Should I be frugal, or have some fun? I may save the cash to help pay for a trip to Seattle to see my son and his wife. Using lunch money and spare change to help fund that trip would be a good investment in family!

I check my bank balances daily to stay aware of where I am, to get the jump on identity theft, or to identify any unusual charges to my accounts. I am backsliding on tracking every expenditure. I have the receipts and my expense recorded—I just don’t have them posted to my spreadsheet. I need to do this now so I can toss the paper and continue to adjust my budget as necessary.

I took a look at my retirement plans and decided to add any raises to my deferred compensation 457 account at work. I am increasing my contributions by 1% this month. I also have a public employment retirement plan, so my hope is to pay off all debt and then max out payments to my 457 account annually until I retire. That, and build a hefty emergency account that I can borrow from and repay as life happens.

I projected my expenses for the next three months and identified which bills would be paid from each paycheck. I like the security of having a road map. I can see where I have been and where I need to go—and prepare for any detours.

Free money!!! I love it. I entered a drawing on a personal finance blog and won $40. I tested a consumer product and received a $20 Amazon gift card. Doing some web browsing netted me another $10 in Amazon gift cards. It was a good week!!!

What are you doing to make this year a frugal and richer year for you?

Image: oddharmonic, via Flickr.com

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