aerospace engineering

Posted: September 19, 2008 in bitching, goals, Headspace

I’m in charge of the finances in our household, and I’m trying to approach it like I would approach any other project. I assess the circumstances, come up with a plan, and tweak as necessary. Then it’s just a matter of following through with what I said I was going to do, and everything will fall into place all nice and neat and tidy. In looking at our finances as an overall project, rather than something to obsess over and panic over and moan and groan over and avoid for as long as possible before HAVING to pay bills and balance the checkbook, I’m hoping to get a better handle on things.

Because we spend WAAAAY too much money on ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Seriously. I pulled a report from Quicken (cuz I’m savvy that way) to examine just what we’ve spent so far in the month of September. Other than our mandatory expenses (you know, the mortgage, the utilities, gas, crap like that), we could have avoided almost ALL of the expenditures for the month. Because MOST of them involved some sort of dining experience. Chili’s when I didn’t feel like cooking. Darkhorse THREE TIMES when we wanted to watch football (hello, 62 inch plasma TV SITTING IN OUR LIVING ROOM). Cien Agaves twice because DAMN do I love their tacos – and you can’t have tacos without tequila. Various weekend cruises where we stop somewhere and have a cocktail or three. Multiple times a week, we’re out somewhere sticking our noses in menus.

We are apparently OBSESSED with going out to eat.

So the plan is simple. I WILL cook every night. We WILL have a set amount of discretionary spending per week and once that’s spent there is NO MORE until the next week. I WILL take my lunch to work. I WILL quit impulse buying at the bookstore (or any other store for that matter, but I am typically Barnes & Noble’s and/or Amazon’s bitch). I WILL go grocery shopping every Saturday morning so that we don’t go “grab something” because we have nothing to eat at home. And after all the bills are paid for the month, everything over a certain minimum amount to leave in the checking account WILL go into savings.

Look at all those positive statements. One would think I was a Dale Carnegie graduate. Oh wait, I am. How affirmative of me.

GOOD GOD DAMN, it’s time to grow up and be responsible about this. Balancing the checkbook each month does NOT automatically qualify as “financial management”. YEEEESH, I’m so irritated with myself. I mean, this is basic crap that as a grown-up I feel we should have a better handle on than we do now. And it’s all me, because I’m the one in charge of it. Calvin really requests small-ticket spending very rarely (and the big-ticket spending, well, he knows why we can’t). He’s said over and over and OVER again that as long as he’s fed it doesn’t matter how fancy the meal, and as long as we have plans to entertain ourselves he doesn’t care how spendy it is.

So yeah, it’s all me. I’m the one, apparently, with the addiction. All I have to do is be disciplined enough MYSELF to not go out and spend. All I have to do is exercise some really easy alternatives that circumvent the desire to spend altogether. Eat at home. Go to the library. Do free stuff (which will get easier as the weather cools off). Do cheap stuff. Stick to the budget.

THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.

Self, this is the line in the sand. The camel vs. straw thing. The final countdown. The first day of the rest of my life. I’m getting ahold of this thing and I’m doing it RIGHT NOW.

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Comments
  1. The same food tastes MUCH better when eaten outside of the home. Your plan also doesn’t account for the extra water and electricity/gas you will be using to make this food.

    BTW, eating out was the one thing we cut down on when things first got tight for us. They aren’t as “tight” as they used to be, but we have managed to keep the same “better” habits…

    Start this thing on Monday…the weekend is here!

  2. Calvin says:

    Just so I am clear does this mean I can’t buy stuff for the truck and we are not going out for a beer tonight? 🙂
    I’m sure I can find a bunch of free things we can do together.

  3. Laura says:

    Morethananelectrician – Um, well, no I didn’t figure in more water and electricity, but it’s GOT to be significantly less than what we’re spending by “outsourcing”. Heh.

    Calvin – I’ll probably heed Electrician’s advice and “start this thing on Monday”. Also? You naughty monkey. ~grin~

  4. Heather says:

    Honey, don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s the absolutes that mess you up every time. When you say you’ll do something EVERY night and that you will not deviate…it’s just way too rigid. You have to allow yourselves to go out every once in a while and do things for yourselves now and again. It’s what makes working your ass off every day worth it. You just can’t do it all the time. I’m poor, but I make sure that I get to go out and do something inexpensive a couple times a month for me. And, contrary to popular belief, you CAN have great tacos without tequila. 😉

  5. Megan says:

    It’s funny, we all know exacty where you’re coming from. And I so agree with Heather.

    What works best for me: don’t use plastic. It is so much easier to overspend when discretionary money is coming off the debit card or credit card. (Especially with credit because it is easy to think “But if I get that appetizer/beer/book from Amazon/cute outfit, I’ll be earning CASH BACK!”)
    If I get cash out once a week and keep most of it at home, I can only spend as much as I have with me. Sometimes it is really hard. I’ve had to scrounge change out of the laundry room junk basket at the end of the week, but that also helps because the embarrassment of buying a gallon of milk with a pile of quarters is further incentive not to overspend the following week. Cash, the financial diet pill.

  6. iamheatherjo says:

    I do the cash thing too! I allot myself a certain amount of spending money each week and if I have something left over at the end, I take myself out or just roll it over into the next. On particularly frugal weeks, I have enough left over that I don’t need to take out any money for the next. I haven’t used a credit card in almost two years.

  7. Taoist Biker says:

    The cash thing is part of our plan – we’ve gotten way too used to using the debit card for everything, and it makes it harder to keep track.

  8. Calvin says:

    Using the debit card for me keeps me from spending more or I should say extra money.
    If I go to the ATM and get a 20 I will spend it all but if I use the card and only need to spend 8 or 10 thats all I spend at that time and it is tracked online

  9. iamheatherjo says:

    The debit card doesn’t work for me, personally, for spending money. It works for groceries and gas just fine though. John used to forget to tell me about his debits and he’d make us overdraw at least once or twice a month because we didn’t have much of a financial “cushion”, you know? I started having to monitor our bank account online every single day. What a drag.

    The cash thing works for me because I won’t let myself get more cash out if I use it all up before the week is over.

  10. Laura says:

    Heather – I know, I know. My plans are all grandiose until I try to execute ’em. I’m just trying to behave myself. As IF we could deprive ourselves into utter discipline. I’m totally jealous of your lack of credit card debt.

    Megan – Actually, Calvin and I end up spending LESS if we don’t take out cash. Kind of like it burns a hole in our pocket if we have change left over.

    TB – I use Quicken and have everything categorized so I know how much we’re spending on what. Which is how I figured out how much we’re spending on going out to eat!

    Calvin – Exactly.

  11. Dawn says:

    We’re getting back into this, because we were being SO GOOD about eating at home (it helps when you have a munchkin with a 7:30 bedtime). Then we lost everything in Ike because our power was out for 11 days. I haven’t had a chance to go to the grocery store yet (with my HUGE LIST), but am planning on doing it tonight, because it is impossible to eat at home when the only thing in your (two!) fridges is bottled water. Sigh!

    But yeah. Eating (and drinking!) at home will save a shitload of cash. You don’t even have to do it every night. Taking lunches is a big thing for me, as well. It gets crazy when you add up all those days into a month and realize what you’ve spent on takeout!

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