Monday, April 07, 2008

A financial goal

Not surprisingly, with one salary and two kids things are tight around here financially. Last week we found ourselves with $30 in the bank and not really sure how it happened. Luckily I got a reimbursement for some church-related expenses for over $300 that will get us to John's next payday. Just before we started eyeing a few good-looking cardboard boxes.

What disturbs me the most is that we don't really know what ate away at our account. Without checking our account activity I can make an educated guess: we frittered it away (likely, mostly me) on lattes, eating out, snacks out with the kids, etc etc etc.

So I've decided to set a new goal for myself starting today. I'm going to try to not spend money for the rest of April and all of May. When I say "not spend money," I'm talking unnecessaries, incidentals, wants instead of needs. Food will still be on the table and I will still wear deodorant. We're going to limit ourselves to eating out or taking in only once every two weeks (we've been doing that too often lately). There will be no more lattes from Starbucks. It will be make-my-own at home. No new crafting supplies; we'll use what we have. If I'm teaching Sunday School, I'll make do with things from home or the supplies at church.

Honestly, we live quite frugally but this month things went off the rails somewhere and I'm not entirely sure how. I keep my spending under control most of the time and I almost always pack our snacks, cook our own meals, and get our books from the library. Obviously I didn't do as well this month.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of April and May go. Last year I took up the same challenge for myself but did it only for a month. I didn't find it too difficult and I saw a real change in my habits afterwards setting me up well for going down to one salary. I need a refresh, a reminder of how I can do better.

Maybe we'll be able to save enough to reach John's stated target of when he'll know that we're financially comfortable:

"Two words: cashew butter."


little b said...

Let us know how it goes. I'm tempted to do it too, although I tend not to fritter it as much as splash it on a few big things. Like my current shopping cart on Amazon with a bunch of books I want. Or the three new t-shirts I ordered from Busted Tees. Not on lattes, but it adds up to the same thing.

I suppose instead of just saying I'm tempted, I should do it. Ok, not should. I will do it. I'm in with you for April and May.

juls said...

I know what you are dealing with. We specifically got an overdraft on our account because we got caught too many times in the red with automatic withdraws. I just don't know where it goes either. I don't drink coffee, and my big outings are to the dog park! Can't see it getting much better once I start working. But how about I try your challenge regardless.

Getting my hair done is a necessity, right?

H Munro said...

For everyone, I did this in University and Dan and I are religous about it now, write down everything you spend...I mean everything. I paid a .50 library fine today and bought Sara some goldfish crackers and Dan wrote it down. You really see where it goes after a month and you can see where you can make changes. It is a pain but really helpful. Just an idea, it also makes you feel guilty if you buy a latte because you will have to write it down.

Shan said...

Last month was not our best month either. It's so hard to be disciplined about it sometimes. Mike and I have some big long term goals like a MAJOR renovation to the house that calls for some serious sacrifices now as well as some big decisions regarding the business. Sometimes it's really hard to buy into the theory that this will all be worth it years from now.

Karen said...

Beth, I'm really glad you're doing it with me. Hopefully I'll be more motivated with a partner. Ooh, maybe we should have some sort of prize for ourselves at the end? That might defeat the purpose of not spending money though.

Julie, I allow myself haircuts of course but I'm not getting colours or anything like that. I guess it is up to you what you consider the necessary and the unnecessary. Today, I considered Tim Tams necessary.

Heather - I remember a neighbour of ours doing this when I was a kid and my mum started it for a bit. I don't think she stuck with it. I tried it a while back but I kept forgetting to write things down. I find it easier to just ask myself before each purchase: do I really need this or can I do without? That works for me. I'm glad the writing down works for you guys. Sounds effective.