So lets talk about money. Forewarning: I really know nothing about responsibly spending, budgeting, saving, and so on. Don’t start reading this and think you might leave with tips of how to be more financially savy because I have little to offer. Consider this a way for me to journal and organize my thoughts as myself and my husband dive into the world of budgeting and (gasp!) really being responsible adults planning for the future. Not to say we are irresponsible because our bills are paid on time and we are taken care of but things add up and mistakes have been made with credit cards. I also wanted to share because I know we are not alone in the everyday struggle of finances. Anxiety and stress over money is a real thing, it affects everyone. So, off we go!
Currently, we are a one income household as I am graciously able to stay home with our two children. Discussions of me going back to work pop up every now and then but what about daycare? We strongly suspect that any income I would generate would cover daycare costs with little take home at the end of the day for us. As of lately we have begun to feel the strain a little more and are looking for answers on what to do. I think what we both have failed to realize at this point is there is no cookie cutter response to answer anyones financial woes. You have to work for it and want it. Do you want to be debt free? (I really wanted to say worry free but ya right, if you are absolutely worry free in your life I don’t even believe you.) Ok, so make it happen! Lets do this together. I want nothing more than for my head to hit my pillow at night and just go to sleep, not think about the bill I wasn’t expecting to pay this month and wondering how that is going to affect us.
So where do we even begin? I’ve done a little (and by little I mean pretty minimal) research on budgeting plans and tips and always leave overwhelmed or discouraged. My mind immediately goes to a negative place and I think, “You cannot be frugal and have fun, theres no such thing.” Well there is, you just have to and likely NEED to learn to live within your means. We all have personal and financial limits and just because your neighbor got a brand new SUV doesn’t mean you need one or that there is anything wrong with the vehicle parked in your driveway.
Here are a few things I have found that have helped changed my thinking just by reading them and starting to practice them along with some other things we are going to try:
Lets start with your thinking process when purchasing:
1. More money doesn’t always mean more money. Ok, let me explain. So as I mentioned we are a one income household. Often I hear my husband say “I need to make more money, we need more money.” While this may or may not be true what I do appreciate is that he has goals for us as a family and for himself as an individual, which I support 110%. BUT what we have both come to realize is that up until now (while we are working on changing our ways) more money to us would have meant more spending, possibly a bigger house, or nicer cars all of which are not things we need. This is where we both need to learn to live responsibly and within our means. I am not saying its a bad thing to want to be paid more, absolutely not, but to want more money to simply buy more might be your first red flag. We are picking up on our mistakes and reigning in our mindless spending.
2. Following the trend of #1 lets talk about the actual purchasing. Two things I have read that have really helped me think about my purchases… “Do you really need that item? What will happen if you don’t buy it?” So, do you need it? Did I need that super cute wooden handmade sign I saw the other day? No. Did I want it? Yes. I didn’t buy it. I looked at it and actually thought do I need this and what happens if I don’t buy it. Nothing happened. I went home and there is unspent money in our checking account. Baby steps.
Secondly, what motivates you to spend? For me personally I am an emotional spender. In the past if I have had a long and trying day with the kids I might go to the store for awhile and leave $100 later on things that we will use but we didn’t need. First recognizes what causes you to spend and then nipping that in the bud is going to make a world of difference. I realize there are other things I can do to de-stress other than spend money.
Now a few other things we are going to try….
3. Spending freeze. I really think this will be our biggest challenge. No purchases outside of necessary items such as grocery, gas and bills. They recommend doing it from one paycheck to the next but we might have to take it slow with this one and try it for a week and then see how we do after that week is over. Definitely a learning curve for us with this one.
4. Balancing a checkbook again. I can say I haven’t done this for years, and by years I mean like 10. I always “guess” what is left in our account only to sign in and say “oh shit.” Knowing what is in there at all times is key in my opinion. If you know your exact amount I think you are less likely to spend on things you want.
5. Ditch the credit cards. We have now removed all credit cards from our wallets and that’s where we have felt it the most, but if you don’t have the funds don’t spend the money!
6. Limit how often you eat out and plan ahead for meals. We spend the most when we don’t have dinner plans (at home) because we quickly order a pizza or go out somewhere.
7. Buy generic, store brand, off brand…whatever you call it. I will fully admit that I am a brand name snob and have been for awhile. I always have had this stigma against store brands assuming they are less of a product. We have been trying more and more store brand items and they are proving to be fine. The one thing I cannot get on board with in terms of store brand though is diapers. I have tried several times and I just do not like them. I want to but I don’t. Suggestions anyone?
8. Want products but can’t afford them? Currently we live in a time of major multi level marketing companies. There are so many, and if there is a product you have been eyeing but can’t justify the cost find a consultant, ask about hosting a party and what the hostess benefits are. I just hosted an online Pampered Chef party (all done on FB) and got just over $200 in product for about $65.
Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University
We are going to be investing ourselves in this together. I have looked into it for awhile but have just assumed its outside of our realm of having success with a budgeting program. I really don’t know why. I just purchased the kit and we will be attending a 9 week class which I really think is going to motivate us the most as the kit is $99 and when held accountable my personal success for things goes up. I’m pretty excited to get started on it especially for the class.
A few other apps and savings programs to try…
*Savings Catcher for Walmart
*Every Dollar Budgeting Program
*Cartwheel app for Target
*Target DEBIT Card (NOT credit card, it will save you 5% every time you shop and gets you the same benefits as the credit card.)
I would open this post up to questions but I don’t know that I will have answers for you on a lot, still ask them if they are there. Comments, tips, or advice on things that have worked for you are always appreciated!
As always…. drink the coffee then do the things! Be amazing!
(Originally posted on August 30th, 2017)