Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Money Saving

I read this awesome blog every day and am inspired to try to do more to be frugal and save money.

I admit there are certain things I just won't (or didn't) do to save money.  I refused to cloth diaper my son.  I refuse to be like the crazy people on 'extreme couponing' and try to get $1000 worth of stuff for free.  I won't grow my own garden, though I love the idea (I would kill every plant before they even had a chance). 

But there are many things I will do or want to do.  I've been wanting to try using a cash system, at least for several things.  This last weekend was the first time we tried it out and though we have somewhat failed (spending more than our allotted amounts in some areas), it has already taught us some lessons (in three days time no less)!  Lessons like, we don't need that 2nd (or 3rd) box of granola bars this week (we can buy it next week or the week after when we run out) and I don't need to buy a new shirt every three days (I have plenty in my closet already, I just need to use what I have and cycle through all of my clothes, not just my favorite ones). 

We took cash out last Friday for two weeks of daycare because we pay our daycare provider every Monday, and we get paid every two weeks, so when that second week comes around, it always seems like a shock when another $130 is gone from our account.  Going forward, I am going to start withdrawing the $260 needed for the next two weeks every time we get paid so the money is out of our account and accounted for and there are no surprises later.

We also took out cash for food.  $80 for groceries for two weeks and $20 each for fun money, as well as $20 total for 'eating out' money.  That's not a lot for two weeks so I told my husband we would have to eat at cheap places or not eat out at all.  We are already out of the $20 for eat out money (go figure) so it forces us to think twice before we eat out again.  I am not saying we will never go over the allotted amount, but it really makes us realize how much we are spending on eating out and think about it before we do it.  Also, the $80 for groceries for two weeks is mostly gone also.  I figured that would be a very low amount, but again, putting a limit (or trying to) on what we spend on groceries, makes me think twice about each purchase and if we really need it or can afford it.  This is also forcing us to eat from the freezer/pantry to use up stuff we already have.

At some point, I would like to set up either a separate bank account for gift/holiday/special occasion money also as I am not sure cash is the best way to do this category.  I admit with cash, I am a little afraid of losing it, it being stolen or the house burning down and it being gone (super unlikely I know, but don't want to have a ton of cash that we could lose somehow).  I have heard of other people budgeting for gift money so when someones birthday comes up, they aren't surprised and don't have any extra money for a gift.  I also want to start saving now for Christmas as the cost of gifts seems to shock me every year and I always spend more than I meant to.

I feel pretty good about the idea of the cash system though and even if we don't fully utilize the plan, we can make some changes to how we look at and spend money.  I think this is a good attitude overall and will only help us in the long run.

I want to curb my spending big time.  I think I just feel like I should be able to buy whatever I want, whenever I want, but that is not a good idea and also not practical.  I want save more for the future and be able to pay off a few of our outstanding debts also.

I think most people want to feel this way, but I want to get to a point first where we feel comfortable with our cash flow most of the time and don't wonder if we will make it to the next paycheck.  After that I want to get to a point where we would be fine if one or both of us lost our jobs for several months and not have to touch any of our retirement savings. 

So, I suppose this is a starting point for all of that.  Small steps.

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