Our spending is in a bad way. It doesn’t feel like we are doing extravagant things, we have a modest house and older cars and spend almost nothing on clothing. But I know we can do better.
We are just about past birthday/Christmas/Disney World season, so it’s a good time for me to stop buying…anything.
The main problem here is the kids, and it makes no-spend months unrealistic. No spend – until a note comes home from school telling me there is a $6 fee for participating in the field trip. Or until it turns out the cheerleading team is changing uniforms and I need to buy a ridiculous $18 bow. Or the tights for dance need to be ordered, or it’s Christianna’s birthday, or there is a subscription app that the teacher says isn’t mandatory, if you hate education and want your child to fail.
So a no-spend month is a pipe dream, as is a no-spend week. Even no-spend days are dicey.
That said, the $27.40 figure keeps rattling around in my brain. $10,000, pissed away on ice skating entrance fees!
Today, I’m committing to something a little more flexible. I’m giving myself $5 a day, in cash, that I can use for incidentals. If I don’t use it that day, it can roll over into the next.
This won’t work for everything, and I’m giving myself some grace for things like “you need a new piano book,” because that feels like something that is a legit part of the budget. But for out-and-about money?
I’ve also added a line item in my budget for gifts. Hopefully that will help me to stay on track for other kids’ birthday parties, and if I can be diligent, keep myself on track for Christmas.
I’ve been working on the philosophy that I don’t buy something in a store unless I went to the store for that thing. This typically doesn’t affect me because I avoid stores (thank God for grocery pickup), but over Christmas break, the impulse spending was not cool. Even with grocery pickup, though, I still have to go into the store to refill our water bottles, and just that one trip every few weeks should cost $7.95…but there have been times when I walk out of there with $100 of stuff in my cart.
Is the $5 a day going to cover everything that comes up? Probably not, but it’ll help me to keep the big picture in mind when it’s time to buy another birthday present (a $12 present is fine!) or I think I might want Starbucks. I am hopeful that it will help me be mindful of the non-important stuff, like “please mom just one bag of chips?” and simultaneously help me to feel not guilty when we do spend money, as the funds should be physically there.
Day 1 started yesterday, and I’m starting Day 2 with $10 in my wallet!