Truth be told, blogging isn't the only thing that's gotten away from me over the past few months. Greg and I came to the realization at the end of June that we'd hit a point of financial sloth that was downright embarrassing. We were bleeding money through a hole the size of our debit card.
The reality is, the only way we can stay on track with our budget and be in a position to save money is to use cash. If we start debiting money gets away from us. One dinner out at a time. One song or app download. One book for my Kindle... At the end of June we were a couple of thousand dollars short of our six month goal. A little reconstruction of our spending showed exactly how much we had spent eating out with the debit card last month. I was shocked.
I don't know why I was shocked. If I don't have the time and energy to blog I certainly haven't had the time or energy to cook dinner. And you can only eat so much fast food before you really want a $35 meal at a real restaurant. We'd also gotten in the habit of treating ourselves to a "special" dinner out every time Kaycie left with the grandparents. Hey, we didn't want to take her to a nicer restaurant so we needed to take advantage of the opportunity to go without her, right? Except we were spending $50 a trip and she was gone more often than she was home last month...
I'd also gotten very bad about downloading books for my Kindle and letting them go to the debit card instead of using my allotted "stuff" money. Greg was buying music and apps and we were both ordering crap off Amazon on a whim, often stuff for the kids just for fun.
I spent $82 ordering clearance Disney pajamas for Kaycie.
It had to stop. We sat down over the course of a couple of days, remodeled our budget, made some changes to the process we use to get and spend our cash to make it more flexible for me to shop, and went back on the envelope system. We've eaten at home the vast majority of the past two weeks. We have resisted the urge to go nom a $50 meal while K was gone (although we may do that for Greg's birthday next week, if we can ditch the kids). I've gone as far as to start buying Kindle gift cards with my cash to load on our account for books. Greg's done the same with his iTunes purchases. I've started using a very nifty little program called Pepperplate to organize meals (I'll probably discuss that a little more later). I even used Amazon gift cards, purchased with cash, to order Greg's birthday gifts. Except for one, but my mom owes me for that one.
We had hoped to go on a couple of trips this fall, but we've come to the conclusion that it probably won't happen. Well, one of them is going to happen, but it's the cheapest one we take and will result in spending a long weekend with some people I have been sorely missing, so I'm guessing it's cheaper than therapy. It will also require diving 9 hours with both kids in the van across 4 states, so I may need the therapy anyway.
So far we've done really well this month. Granted, we've almost run out of eat out money for the month, but because we're back to using cash we know how much we have left and we know that if we want to keep having lunch out during the week we either have to use our stuff money or find it somewhere else in the budget. I suspect we'll be able to borrow some from groceries by the end of the month since I haven't been spending as much as I anticipated. We haven't debited anything but gasoline since July 1.
Hopefully in the next 3 months we'll be able to transition Luke off formula, which will save us about $150-200 a month. If I could get Kaycie to quit being so darn stubborn and potty train, it'd save us another $30-40 a month. But I'm almost certain she'll be wearing diapers in college. She better get a good job...