Welp. I've almost made it. I only have to wait four more days (my anniversary) until I can spend money on myself! The strange thing is: I'm not sure I'm going to want to. I've actually began to feel somewhat empowered by my efforts to save money. Meg, do you remember me coming over to hang out at your parents' house shortly after I was married? I remember sitting in the front yard while your parents were having a yard sale and talking to you and your sisters about how hard it had been for Brian and me to make and stick to a budget. I remember Sarah saying that at first it was hard for her and Lane to commit to a budget, but that once they did, it really made them feel more free and more secure. I wish it had been before now that I was finally able to really understand what she was saying. To our credit, living on a budget has been significantly less feasible for Brian and me than for most others because we have never been on a fixed income. Not only have we made different amounts of money every single month since we've been married, but we get paid totally randomly as well. So what I'm finally realizing is that we need to decide on the minimum amount of money we need to live for one month and keep at least that much money in some sort of revolving account--so that at the beginning of each month, we can deposit it into our checking account and budget it out, and then replace it as we get paid (assuming we do get paid.) Do you know what I mean?
So anyway...This last month or so was the first in my married life (or single life, for that matter) that I have ever put an honest effort toward staying within a budget and trying to save money. There have definitely been months where we have had to spend less money--simply because we did not have any to spend, but this is the first time when we made an effort to spend less money despite having the option to spend more. And I still didn't figure out a complete budget, but I certainly progressed. When we last got paid, I put into our checking account only that amount that we decided was reasonable for us to live on. Then, I left enough money in the account to pay the bills that are automatically withdrawn and took the rest out in cash. Brian and I decided on a monthly allowance for each of us to spend as we choose, and then I set the rest aside for groceries, gas, etc. We agreed that if we wanted to spend money on anything that wasn't a need, we had to use our own allotted money to buy it. The outcome, of course? We've both been saving up our money to buy something big, instead of wasting it away on little things like drinks, fast food, etc. Brian is saving his money for an LCD TV, and I'm saving mine for a bunk bed for Camp's room, a bed for Danin, new dining room chairs to go with our awesome table, and eight or nine inch baseboards for our next house. Yep. It looks like I'll be saving for a while. But man, I just never thought saving money could be so satisfying. (I better not speak too soon. My chickens are not hatched yet. Saving for one month is just not going to cut it.) Oh, and don't you worry. I am making sure to put money aside each month for savings and our Roth IRA's. It's not a ton, but we'll pay more as we are able.
So do you want to know where I have been cutting out spending? Well, the biggest one is fast food. This means I have had to be better at planning--ahead of time--what to make for lunch and dinner instead of just dropping by McDonalds or having Brian grab some tacos on the way home. We really don't eat a lot of fast food anyway, but even five or six trips a month for a family our size saves us around 60 or 70 bucks. And I have cut back the amounts of food I make for dinner. Specifically, I try harder to make only as much as we will eat that night, and not so much that we have tons of leftovers. That way, I get a lot more dinners out of--our meat, for instance--So I don't have to spend so much on groceries. Having leftovers of cheap stuff is good, but having chicken or steak for lunch is just too expensive. And I have cut back on the snack foods I buy. AND I have not given in to sales...(I'm still kinda sad about that rug I missed out on, though.) AND I have avoided going to any stores where I might be tempted to buy something. AND I have really tried to be more conservative in the number of baby wipes and toilet paper squares I use. Yep. This is the big time. So anyway...I think this has been the most boring post I have ever written. Please don't disagree with me.
Oh, but you know what?! Two weeks from today is my mom-and-sister reunion! Ah, yeeeahhh. Oh my heavens. I cannot wait. This time I'm flying to my mom's and then my sisters are all going to meet me there. And it is going to be fa-bu-lous. And do you know what I AM going to spend some money on while I'm there? Some men's Hanes v-neck whitey tideys (shirts, not underwear). I have DESPERATELY needed some new work-out clothes, but I have even refrained from buying those until I am in Vegas and can go to target.