I tend to freak out about money. Here’s how it happens. I keep good track of my finances for a while, and then something happens… an illness, a trip, a wedding, SOMETHING to knock me off my budget and make it a bit muddy to figure out just where I stand. And then I make like an ostrich and REFUSE to look — dread growing with each purchase (or refused purchase on the certainty that I’m near financial ruin) until I have an anxiety attack for a few days that finally, FINALLY leads to a near-breakdown and I figure my books out and realize that I have no money (just as I thought). But I also have a clean slate and promises NEVER to do that again. Of course, if I’d just sat down with my checkbook register and receipts the first time I realize I’ve blown it again, it would never be as bad as it ends up.
And yet I never learn.
And I do it again.
It’s the impulse spending that kills me.
This doesn’t work so well when you’re only getting paid once a month. Instead of a paycheck bail-out and fresh start every two weeks, my cycle’s now stretching for an entire month. And each month I’m a little more in the hole to be bailed out. Meaning that each month I have a little LESS money in my working budget because of the pay-off I need to do.
These are my specific money troubles. My partner has others. Together we’re misappropriating hundreds of dollars from our monthly budget. Given that we were just handed a big bill for something we desperately need and want to do ASAP, this needs to stop NOW. We need to get control of our finances. We know that we make enough to cover our needs. And when we’re on budget we even have stuff left over for, oh, I don’t know… savings. And to help us pay for the Desperately Wanted and Needed and Expensive Thing. So last night we came up with a plan. We know it’s going to be hard. Very hard. But we both think it’s also going to be very, very good for us. Like a sugar binger going on the master cleanse.
We’re going cold turkey on all “unnecessary” purchases. But wait! Not exactly! For the next 3 months we will only buy food and toiletries (including “household toiletries” like cleaning supplies) new. If we find that we need to buy something else: books, clothes, toys, whatever. We will buy them used or get them free somehow. We’re also going to stop eating out. Now I can look forward and see that we’ve got trips planned (a wedding, my residency in Seattle, a work conference) that are going to require meals out, but other than that, no. Cooking at home. The whole thing is a bit like The Compact, only for a shorter period of time (though if it works out we’ll keep going) and with a bit more flexible rules (for instance if we break a window, we’ll go buy a window — unless we can find a used or free one right away — but we’re not going to angst about it). Starting today (because I have no money today to buy anything anyway…)
Also a good thing about starting today is that I’m riding high on my hand-me-down and dumpster-diving bliss. Recently it was Big Garbage Day here and as I was driving to work I noticed a faded and dirty, but still safe and sound, plastic kid-sized picnic table. I’ve been wanting one of these for the last couple of years, but didn’t want to pay for it. So I screetched to a halt, opened up the hatchback of the prius, and shoved that thing in. And, in just the next pile over there was an intact and rather cute glass punch bowl complete with little punch cups! We’ve been having to borrow hipiegrl’s and my mother’s punch bowl every time we throw a party and I’ve been complaining that we need to get our own. And right there! It fell out of the sky (practically).
Not only that, but my brother, He Who Could Sell Snow to Polarbears, and his wife finally finally brought us their daughter’s hand-me-down clothes. 6 WHOLE BAGS! And they’re kinda anal people, so the clothes were in really good condition, and clean, and frighteningly free of stains. About 1/3 of them were too small for Sassa, so we’re passing them down to our friend who just had a baby girl, and the rest will keep Sassa in clothes for the next year at least! I love hand me downs. Just like a shopping spree with no consumer guilt or buyer’s remorse!
I know it probably sounds weird to put this challenge on a product/book review blog. Consider it a lifestyle-product review, and join me for the ride!
Plus, just because I got it for free or from a thrift shop doesn’t mean I can’t review it… (and I’m more than happy to review presents and freebees)
So, what do you think? Have you done this? Are you interested? What new items couldn’t you live without if you were to try this?