This is obviously the second article. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. This is what we discovered during the first few months.
It’s easier mentally to keep track of a daily budget. And helps to stop the total budget from running out mid-week, or mid-month.
Include anything that isn’t a fixed expense. Basically, if it wasn’t a mandatory bill every month, it went in the budget.
Find an amount that’s challenging but won’t leave you giving up in despair. We decided on twenty-five dollars a day. An amount that wasn’t so challenging that we’d never meet it, and binge ending through budget despair, but still required a good bit of ingenuity. Why have a challenge that isn’t a challenge? Also, because I’d been reading a lot spend-fasting articles, and because I’m a glutton for punishment.
Preparing for a daily budget is important. We balanced the bills in both halves of the month so we weren’t “broke” the first half and spending all our “free” money during the second half.
We found a lot of cool ways to save. Including just procrastinating spending a lot.
We picked our sacrifices. Turns out, cellphones were an easy toss. Nutrition, and haircuts, an absolute no. If trying to include something in the budget made us throw our hands up in the air and say toss the budget this week, we decided it was better to have it as an outside expense, rather than spend a ton more after giving up. We figured that out the hard way.
Does it work? We haven’t necessarily met our saving goals, but we paid down the credit card. We paid for eyeglasses and major car repairs, including two new tires and a leak in the coolant, and a three day vacation. All out of our debit account, instead of with our credit card. You can read the entire up and downs of it here.
Now onto Part Two.
It wasn’t working. It stopped working, I should say. We had made a lot of good habits, (Mainly that almost everything I might enjoy buying at a thrift shop isn’t needed, and now must come off a specific scavenger-hunt list. You can read more on how I changed my relationship to shopping, and stuff in general, here.) But we were still spending a lot more than we’d have liked, at the expense of keeping our savings account happy. We’d slipped back into old habits, and this was being was being reflected in the amount we’d dug into our overdraft the night before every payday.
So, on a sunny Thursday in June… well the long and the short is, we went to the bank and retrieved fourteen twenties, and fourteen fives. And it worked, mostly. No more scrolling through the banking app on the phone mentally adding up how much was left in the weekly budget. If there was money left for the day (loose change) or the week (bills), it was in the teapot. We only physically spent from each day’s bills. It worked out until we had a giant argument because instead of sticking to the budget, hubby was just running a tab on the lunch truck.
(It turns out that if someone agrees to something but struggles to follow through on it, their heart isn’t in it and it is definitely worth finding out why!)
So we brought everything back to the table, literally almost. (Partners have great ideas. If the other partner listens.) He wanted to take clothing out of the budget. The reason? We don’t buy clothing often enough to warrant it. We both, due to proportions, find finding clothes that fit a struggle, so we’ve often gone with the philosophy, if it fits well, and it’s a good quality item that will last, buy it regardless of price (with-in reason), because that seldom happens. So, because spending the same amount over a longer time, is still spending less, we buy the clothes we need, find quality items by thrifting when we can, and don’t worry about trying to fit a ninety-dollar bra, into a twenty-five-dollar-a-day spending limit. (If you think that’s outrageous to spend on a bra, well, I’ll give you my boobs.)
And sometimes you just need a card, like at gas pumps. Its easier or sometimes the only payment option (Costco). So we started taking out fourteen twenty-dollar bills every week, which left us seventy in the bank, which is roughly our two-weeks expenditure in gas, and we just fill it up completely when we need to and forget about calculating it. (So I guess gasoline really isn’t in the budget anymore, but we’ve decreased spending proportionally to compensate.)
For a while we were very strict about only spending one bill per day. Our grocery trips went up, but because we mostly buy fresh, and I’m limited in how long I can manage energy-wise in a shopping trip, it was okay with us. And it helped us build a really good habit. But now we’re somewhere in the middle, we don’t spend our entire budget the first day in a mega-giant hundred-dollar grocery shopping trip, leaving us annoyed at our budget, and struggling with it the rest of the week. But it’s more practical because spending more than a day’s worth at once can save more over all, and we’ve settled on a happy medium of a few days allowance at a time.
There is still barely anything in savings. However. We have had a ton of unexpected expenses that we able to pay for promptly and in full without feeling the pinch or having to delay something that would affect our safety, like having a tire blow out on us. I finally felt really dumb when I looked over at my hubby and said, “I just realised I shouldn’t feel bad that most our savings have been used up on emergencies because that’s what an emergency fund is for…” He facepalmed.
I also have just realised that now everyone knows that the spare cash cache is a teapot. (See what I did there?) Good luck figuring out which one of all of the them, in a timely manner though. (Hubby has put a moratorium on buying teapots.) Time for a new system or hiding place, maybe? Although most of the time I’m just like, Oh you need five bucks, sure. I’m staying in the garden and I’m not climbing back up those stairs, its in the teapot…