My first “official” post is going to be a bit of a declaration. Something to hold me accountable. You see, here in the first week – actually, not EVEN a week – of 2013, and I have already hit a dilemma. A decision. Or commitment rather. Whichever way you want to categorize it, its something that I need to put out in the universe in order for it to be successful and to not be a big fat flaming failure.
I – proud DINK, who is supposed to have all this disposable income by not having kids, who is supposed to be able to eat out at lavish restaurants for hours on end while not worrying about babysitters, who has the luxury of driving a sporty coupe instead of a sensible 4-door – am going on a spending freeze. Spending hiatus I if that ain’t the glass-half-full sort of way to frame it)? No, spending HALT.
Now there will be plenty of time for me to defend myself and the hubs on our lifestyle choice (that choice of no children and being totally happy and cool and excited about the prospect of our life together and what the future holds for us), but first things first. I am supposed to have this fabulous lifestyle of vacations and day drinking and damn-fine shoes with itty bitty “can”t hold a diaper or pacifier” sort of going out bag. But yet, my debt exists. How could it not? Student loans and mortgages and a pretty sad and weak resolve when it comes to buying new shoes or pants or sweaters or curtains or furniture or WHATEVER.
I realized I needed to change things when, on December 31st, I had to take my (the hub’s) cat to the vet for an “unexpected” medical ailment. For most, a vet visit (and a relatively cheap one at that considering what it COULD have been) was simply something that dips into a reserve account. And for the hubs, that’s exactly what it was. But for me? I had to make a phone call to tell my dad not to cash a check for a few days until I got paid, deposited the money into the bank, and did the balance transfers required to make sure that everything could be covered.
Not exactly what a soon-to-be 31 year old who likes to think she is successful in her job, career and life wants to have happen. Not my proudest moment. Which made me think, “Why don’t I have more as a reserve fund?” Which made me then think “because you don’t have much extra money left at the end of the month.” And then next logical thought after THAT? “Because you spend all your extra money t the end of each month of stupid stuff instead of putting it away like you’re supposed to.” Bingo.
No I’m not some poor deprived housewife. I have a great job that I absolutely love and I make pretty good money. I have a retirement fund. I am responsible with bills and I have good credit. I have a nice car and a nice house and we live comfortably. But somehow, after graduating from my big fancy graduate program and got my big fancy job with my big fancy paycheck, I spent that big fancy paycheck like I DIDN’T have the big not-so-fancy student loan payment every month. And I spent that big fancy paycheck like I DID have a big fancy savings accountant. But I didn’t. And I don’t. Suze Orman would be so ashamed at me. She probably wouldn’t even call me “Girlfriend” as she drove away from me in disgust in her fancy Acura (like she actually drives an Acura. Please.).
And so I’m going to make sure that the “lifestyle” that everyone assumes we have and gives us grief for is actually a reality and not some fake illusion. Because if I’m going to be horribly, unfairly and inexplicably judged for not having kids, then dammit, I will have some pretty cool shoes doing it. So part of this blog will be about my shameless attempt to put a little more cash in my trendy little bag.
So to start, I spent the first week of 2013 by taking a cold hard truthful look at things. What did I really spend my money on? What did I have to show for all my spending? Where there things in there that I could change and have better control over? And setting up a plan. I. Must. Have. A. Plan. Which goes a little something like this:
I designated the things I am prepared to spend money on. Mortgage, utilities, car payment, gasoline, groceries, pre-set self care items (shampoo, etc), healthcare (doc copays, gym membership, dentist, etc), home improvement SUPPLIES that the hubs and I have predetermined are appropriate (it should be noted we pretty much do all the work ourselves, we are DIYers and only pay for the supplies themselves), household supplies (toilet paper), and haircuts. Haircuts? Yes, because my husband prefers me blond but evidently mother nature did not. My compromise is every 6-8 weeks and NOT every 4 like I would prefer. I’m a woman, I have needs.
Things that are forbidden? Clothes. Shoes. Workout clothes. Cell phone accessories (I don’t need a new case, come on, no matter how cute it is). Coffee shops, coats, decorative house stuff, purses, anything from ebay, ANYTHING from QVC, hair accessories, new makeup other than what I am replacing, junk food, fast food. Or anything else that isn’t on my approved list, basically. There’s a caveat that I should admit right now though. The hubs and I have a 3-part financial system. His, mine, and ours. He currently has no financial issues to speak of (despite his student loans and his half of the household expenses, he was born a saver. And he doesn’t have to get his roots down every 4…er, every 6-8…week or buy blush or operate a flatiron…). He and I decided that while I do this little spending HALT, purchases we agreed on out of our mutual account would be fair game. Which is where the mortgage, utilities, grocery bill, gas, and occasional eating out comes from. No spending on MY own, since my debt is MY own. Except for gift cards. I am allowed to spend giftcards. And no, I didn’t go out and buy $1000 worth of gift cards right before I embarked on this journey. Seems fair and legit to me…
So for the first week I have survived. No Starbucks (sad face), no eating out (except for 1 business lunch which I was unprepared for but I’ll take it as a learning experience and not let it happen again). Not a single charge on my credit card. Not a single deviation from the plan. And the hubs is already tired of me talking about it, so I thought I better talk about it on here or else he would lock himself in the basement with Black Ops 2.
And so I start out on this journey with every intention of making it as long as I can. Initial goal is 3 months, but something tells me this will start to snowball in a way that will make me want to continue. Hold me accountable. Yes I’m talking to the 4 people who read this blog. Hold me accountable! Tell me not to spend! Make me save! Let me get this under control so I can talk about more exciting things!