Tuesday, August 4, 2009

screwed the pooch!

Yup, that pretty much sums up how we did on our No Spend Month. We suck. Instead of spending only $250 on all our non regular bill stuff (groceries, gas, pet food, thrift store shopping, etc) we spent closer to $400. Yes, you heard me right.. We went over by about $150. Yikes!

How did this happen? We were doing SO GOOD...

I would say it was a combination of me being sick, which means I get a kind of depressed + starting to feel a little deprived + our consumer buying addiction + very little self control. Yeah, lethal combination. We just went buying/spending crazy the last week. It was weird, like aliens took over our minds.

I was pretty mad at us for a good week, had a few moments of yelling at myself and being mad at Don, because, really, it was all his fault, you know?

Well, I can say (because I always have to see the good side of things) that we did learn ALOT this month. It was not a total loss...

What we got out of doing this:

* We got to see, really see, how we are about money and what we want/need to do to change things.

* I learned how to grocery shop on a tighter budget and still eat good food. Last week when it was obvious we had screwed the pooch, I still only spent $50 at the grocery store.

* We had some pretty awesome conversations about money that we normally do not ever have. This has created some new goals and commitments that were going to happen "some day" but we are now working on now.

* I had a new insight about our budget. I relate to our budget as a hope or wish and don't ever really stick to it. I just spend money on whatever I feel like. So, even though I do a budget every month, and I thought I was following it, I wasn't. I am full of it.

* This new insight has led to us committing to only spend cash and use the envelope system. More on that in a minute.

* Don has a better appreciation for where our money goes, where it should go and where we want it to go. This is a good thing.

* We did discover that we can live on less and though we may not love it, we can do it and be fine.

So, all in all, I am really glad we did this. I think we learned some good things about ourselves and for sure we got ourselves re-oriented and pointed in the right direction toward fulfilling our dreams.

This month, we are taking on a new challenge! To only spend cash and use the envelope system. I have tried this before, but what ended up happening is we would "steal" money from other envelopes to buy things or just use our debit card.

Uh, yeah, not really the way the envelope system is suppose to work. The idea is that you have an envelope for all the categories you need to spend money on. Then you put a budgeted amount of cash in each envelope and when the money is gone, it is gone. Kinda like when we were kids and when we had money, we would spend it on stuff, but when we didn't, we didn't. Sounds simple enough right?

Well, when I have tried this before, when I ran out of money, I would just whip out the debit card and buy stuff anyway. That meant spending money that should be going into savings, resulting in no savings.

So, here is how we are doing the challenge this month.

Each week when Don gets paid, he will deposit his paycheck and keep a certain amount of cash that will go into our envelopes.

What goes in the bank stays in the bank for rent, bills, etc. I have taken our debit cards away. They are tucked into a sealed envelope that we are not allowed to open for the entire month.

I made some cute little envelopes for us to use. I needed something pretty that won't get torn up and mangled. So I whipped these up last week. Pretty basic and seriously whipped up - don't look at them too close! But they are a pretty place for us to put our money and they will serve as a reminder that our money is important.

The categories we have are: groceries, out and about, thrifting, household needs, and pet supplies. I need to make another one for gas. I was going to have us just use the debit card for filling up the tank, but I think that we really do need to put the debit cards away for the whole month and not use them at all. So we will have to go pay for gas the old fashioned way, no paying at the pump for us! (note to self: get gas when the kids are awake or when we are both in the car)

So there you have it - our new game. Spend only what we have budgeted, using a cash based system.

5 comments:

Angela August 4, 2009 at 11:55 AM  

We have been doing a modified envelope system. We used mason jars which sit on a shelf we can see. It's nice to be able to see what's there. Then while Troy was gone I went to just putting X amount of cash in my wallet and committing to spending only that cash for 2 weeks. It's working fairly well. :)

Michelle August 5, 2009 at 10:35 AM  

Hi Lisa,

Good luck, this next month! We have been budgeting for years now and doing a cash only system for ages as well. It is hard at first, working out all the kinks and figuering out were your weaknesses are. We have done the envelope system, we have used binders, and many other ways to manage the money. My best advice is to keep working on were your money is going and make broad "envelopes" (or whatever works) for those catagories. For example in our house, household needs, pet food, out and about,thrifting and groceries all go into one pile "groceries." Gas is hard, you need to find all the gas stations that have those little kiosks where someone is standing inside them and you can pay them, with out draging the kids in and out of the car. That has always been my biggest weakness. Here is how we lable our money now: gas and groceries. We use to have it even broader then that. It use to be: Gas, groceries, entertainment, and an allowance for me and an equal allowance for my husband (to buy anything we wanted for ourselves.) But the truth is we could never stay within those boundaries. Through much trial and error we see that the majority of our money is spent at the grocery store. We choose to spend more on healthier foods and less on ourselves. Now rather then worrying were we "keep" our money we just split the gas money in half. My husband puts half in his wallet and I keep the other half in mine. I also keep the grocery money in my wallet, I know X amount is for gas and the rest is all I have for the week, for anything else (again in our house the priority is food.) That is the other thing we do, is in weekly amounts rather then monthly. It helps you not blow it all at once and be stuck for the whole month. We get our payments on the 1st, 8th, 16th and 24th. We do NOT have credit cards! End of story...we have not found one single ligitament reason for keeping one. Any ways hope some of my ideas help lead you to where you want to be. We were blessed to have an older couple point out the need for this sort of system at the very begining of our relationship, and I am happy to say we never fight over money. We have plenty of other things to fight over...lol! Good luck Lisa!!!

Lisa August 6, 2009 at 1:01 PM  

Thanks for the tips, ladies!!!! I really appreciate it, so much to learn....

R August 8, 2009 at 10:23 PM  

Lisa,
I've found that if I really cut back for a month, the next month usually is a bit of rebound. I'll have put off things like toothpaste and food to keep the pantry stocked, so the second month costs more.

Also, I've tried not to cut back to the extreme otherwise I end up spending more in the long run as a knee-jerk reaction to being too restricted.

I guess what I'm saying is be easy on yourself. Take it one purchase at a time, one choice at a time. :)

Bekah

Sally September 9, 2009 at 10:33 PM  

We are learning to work from the envelope, too, after reading Dave Ramsey's book. Like others have said, it's hard right now, figuring out where the money should be put, and learning to ration that money out.
It was good read that a reader of yours put money in two categories: gas and groceries. We are doing that, not separating the non-foods from the foods. I am thinking about how we can incorporate a place for bulk items, that we would buy only periodically, like wheat berries and such. I am thinking that we should designate a "holding envelope" for that, then use the stash for those purchases, so we save that $$ up over a few months. We'll see...
(I LOVE those envelopes. love.)

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