Our family is on a “no-nonessential spending kick” for September. Why? We had a few hangover bills from a summer vacation and three unexpected car repairs. So a spending freeze seemed like a sane way to get our budget back on track.
Now, we’re pretty careful with our money anyway, so I thought, “How hard can this be?” Well, it’s only September 2. And I’ll tell ya the truth: It’s very, very hard!
I read a suggestion in financial celebrity Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan (which I downloaded for free; you can still read the first chapter here). It was: Don’t spend ANYTHING for one day. So during the last part of August, I kept trying to do that, in preparation for September. Emphasis on “kept trying.” I’d think: OK, this is an easy day to spend nothing. Then we desperately needed milk. Or it was my “mom’s night out” and I wanted to buy a cup of coffee with a friend. Or I needed to send in a check for my daughters’ lunch money.
So I’d put off the “spend nothing day” until tomorrow. But the funny thing was that something kept popping up—sometimes a need, sometimes a very strong “want”—and I found it really tough to go even one single day without spending at least a few bucks! I wondered: How the heck are we going to get through September?
Do tight economic times have you spending more time at home with your kids? If so, you’re not alone. And it can be a good thing. Check out this article: Tough times mean family time at home.
My question: Will we keep this up even after the recessions passes? I hope so.
I love these segmented banks, which I bought for my daughters a while back. They’re from MoneySavvy Generation, a Web site created by Susan Beacham. I interviewed Susan for a Parenting magazine article about allowances, and thought her banks were a great idea so I ordered them the next day. (This company also has segmented banks.)
Each bank has a slot for “Spend”, “Save,” “Donate,” and “Invest.” (We’re not really using the “Invest” slot yet, but we will.) When the girls get their allowances, the deal is that they must put SOME money in each slot. We talked about it ahead of time, so they have a regular plan for how much they’ll put in each compartment. Greg and I didn’t tell the girls how much goes in each slot; we wanted them to make that choice.
Ever think about the fact that the holidays come at the same time each year…yet somehow we forget to budget for them? Or that you need to fill your home’s oil tank a couple of times each year (for those of us in old houses), yet you never seem to have enough cash?
If you take a minute to consider it, there are lots of expenses that only happen a few times a year, so we don’t really plan for them. But why not? A few years ago, my DH and I sat down and brainstormed every annoying expense that had caught us by surprise. Could we somehow anticipate them?
A June 2008 study by the market research firm Matthew Greenwald and Associates reveals that our parents attribute their ability to live comfortably in their retirement years to
* Avoiding credit card debt (81%)
* Having an emergency fund (86%)
* The ability to save well (79%)