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How do you budget? Any tips?

 
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We recently moved to our acreage this past summer; the previous owners were snowbirds (don't blame 'em, lots of snow and cold here in Ontario) anyway, they weren't able to give us an accurate idea of what heating costs via propane would be.
Turns out, it's a LOT.
We have a 20 year old furnace on it's last legs and through the winter we're looking at propane costs between $400-425 every three weeks.
Needless to say, we're saving for a new furnace (about 3500ish and looking into putting into a pellet or wood stove)
BUT all this being said because we've had to budget like never before and watch every single penny.
We live off one modest income and I homeschool the little ones.

Right now we're using the Every Dollar app to keep track of everything and I'm scouring different resources on how to save money.
But as husband says: "Well Ginny, at least rice and beans are cheap." -_- .....great.

So what budget do you find works and what are your best tips for saving those pennies??
 
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The envelope system is a good one.  Dave Ramsey thinks he invented it, but in reality my mother taught it to me 45 years ago.  Start of month, put cash in envelopes for each category of spending.  When the envelope is empty, no more until next month.

Keep in mind that new furnaces often result in a tax credit, too.  It won't help you for the initial cash outlay, but you potentially would get some money back at tax time.
 
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Rick Martin wrote:Keep in mind that new furnaces often result in a tax credit, too.  It won't help you for the initial cash outlay, but you potentially would get some money back at tax time.



This! And some states will help you pay your heating bill. This is programs by state, assuming you're in the US, that help pay for heating costs for low income families.
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/liheap-state-and-territory-contact-listing
The income cut off is often higher than you would think.

Also, if you're not doing this already, hanging your clothes to dry inside your house in the winter is a great way to humidify your house and save the cost of running a clothes dryer. When we lived in Vermont, our clothes would dry faster hanging up in the winter, than dried in the dryer.

 
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It might be worth having an HVAC person out to check if something needs adjusting on the furnace.  Maybe a $200 fix could pay off in a matter of weeks.  Maybe compare your propane usage to similar houses in the area to see if your system is out of line?

I budget with a homemade Excel program.  Income lands in a column on the left, expense categories are columns going across the page.  Every single expense is tallied in its column so the amount in each column (bucket o' cash) is depleted throughout the month until payday fills them back up.  They each get a particular fraction of the paycheck based on our budget.  

This works better, I think, once you aren't sweating the bills each month and are starting to save up for future expenses (car, house, helicopter).  You can have $300 a month going into a "new car" fund for years until you have enough saved up to pay cash for it.  
 
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Somewhere within the budget i believe in paying yourself first. Even if it's $5 a week. It's funds to use for whatever with no explanation needed. Maybe only one spouse uses it and another saves theirs. That is fine. It's their choice.
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