ch-ch-ch-changes

So, this isn’t really a New Year’s resolution post, as I don’t really believe in them. This is about me and money. I have a problem. I love to spend money! And not just on me. I love to buy gifts for people. I love to go out to eat. I love to have people over for dinner. I love to travel. I love to go to concerts. I love to buy books, as opposed to checking them out at the library. It’s not that I love money, as much as it is that I love what I can buy/do with it.

I have been in a very difficult situation, financially, since moving away from Arizona. Recently, though, some of my stress has been relieved and I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it is still at the end of a tunnel that is relatively long.

The other night, I was having a conversation with my cousin, Anne, at our grandma’s house. Somehow we got on the topic of cash and I mentioned that I rarely carry cash. And then Anne told me that all she ever uses is cash. She said that on payday, she just goes to the bank, takes out a certain amount and that’s her money until the next pay day. Interestingly, even though the conversation had nothing to do with my money spending issues, this was exactly the advice I was looking for.

I got to thinking about it, and I’ve decided that this is my going to be my new way of budgeting (as opposed to the old way in which my only concern was that my bills got paid on time). Initially, I was going to base my budget on how much I needed to leave in the bank to cover my monthly bills. Then I realized that will keep me in the “paycheck to paycheck” mode I am currently in and from which I am desperately trying to escape. After much reflection, I have decided how much cash I need each week (food and gas, basically…and I am being a little bit generous as this is going to be new and very, very difficult for me) and I will pull twice that out of the bank every two weeks, on my payday, and that will be that. My goal is to use only that money for non-bill items, meaning if I want to got out to dinner and a movie, I basically have to plan my week around that, and probably not go during a week when I need gas (thankfully, I only have to fill my tank about once every other week).

For right now, I think this is a good place to start. I’m hoping that, by the time I start grad school, I will have cut the budget down by about 1/3 and be completely out of debt. I think it can be done. And if any of you out there have any other suggestions (especially about non-necessity spending), let me know. I’d love to hear them.

15 thoughts on “ch-ch-ch-changes

  1. I wish I could give advice about money, but sadly I am usually in need of it myself! Like you, I love to spend money. I wish I could buy things for other people more often, go to every new movie, out to eat with friends and my husband, travel, you name it… I find budgeting SO hard yet it’s maddening to me that it’s so easy for some people. I recognize that this is not my strength and I need to work hard to overcome it. But it’s not fun! It takes a lot of control (kind of like eating healthy- you know what you SHOULD do but it’s hard to pass up something good) Good luck to you.I just read everyone else’s comments and now I feel even more frustrated! How come all these people enjoy planning where every penny is going? That thought makes my stomach queasy! UGH.

  2. Cash is totally the way to go to get in the zone with your spending. We did that for like 6 months, and now I just am “trained” on what to spend and don’t ever go over and it has been over 3 years. It is liberating to feel totally in control and know/plan where it is all going. The hardest thing for me was always the impromptu gatherings that happened at the end of the pay periods when my “entertainment” budget was spent.

  3. this is an awesome idea- but i struggle with how- b/c most things i pay are paid online. i guess i could budget that in. i realized the other day i NEVER EVER have cash- not even change!!!

  4. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Hope you are feeling better and got a good run in. One of my cash/budget tricks is to look back at where I go wrong then make strict rules around those things so I don’t make the same mistakes. I replaced my book buying habit with the library.My other cardinal rule is to save for all major purchases – no credit cards.Winter/spring is a nice time to clean house and sell a few things you don’t need.

  5. he married one of my best friend’s growing up: julie (griffiths) nelson. she was one my bridesmaids in my wedding. i absolutely adore the both of them. apparently their little lucy is pretty cute. small world!

  6. i have an amazing excel spreadsheet my husband drafted to keep track of our expenses – i could totally forward it to you if you really wanted to get down and dirty with keeping track of where your money is going.our cardinal rule, learned from my best friend, kaylynn: if you don’t have money in the checking account for it, don’t buy it. wait, save, and then spend.good luck, chloe! 🙂

  7. I think cash is a good way to start too. One thing I would still try to do though is keep track of receipts and jot down where the cash is going. I think it’s easier to cut back on certain things when you realize how much is going towards it each month. Something nice about cash is that you can physically set some aside (like if you have extra at the end of the month) to save for something you want–like a new camera lens!

  8. Cute blog! Man, every time I see a cute blog like this, my blog feels all frumpy and boring. But, then I think about changing it and end up content with the ol’ brown and orange template. I’m a cash girl. It works. You spend less and feel satisfied.

  9. Just like Katie, I also really like Dave Ramsey. If you want to get motivated to get (and stay) out of a debt, his podcast is great or check out his website. You can download it on iTunes. We also do a “zero-balance” budget. This way all the money has a “home.” My problem in the past that I always left a little in the account each month and it kind of turned into a slush fund to spend on whatever, when it could have been put directly into savings for a rainy day. We do the “envelope system”. I went to the dollar store and about this cute little coupon organizer and than labeled each slot as food, household, fun money, date money, and clothes. At the beginning of the month I take out exactly how much cash I will need and put them in the slots and then this is ALL I GET!! (I pay for gas off of the debit card.) Okay so it doesn’t always work out, and there are some months when I have to use the debit card at the end of the month for emergencies because I have run out of cash, but it does help tremendously. It’s so much more emotional with cash and I really think three times as much before making a purchase.Another thing I would tell you is expect for it to take 3-4 months to actually succeed at budgeting, but don’t get discouraged. For me at least it was really hard to change my ways and stop swiping the card all the time and to say I can’t do something because there is no cash left in the envelope, but what a difference using cash makes! Good luck!

  10. Using cash only is a great way to start, but I’d be even more rigorous about it. I tried to just do the cash only thing and it still wasn’t helping me train myself to spend less. The ear doctor and I put together a “zero-balance” budget where you plan out ever penny you earn on paper before you spend it. You can find worksheets for this type of budget anywhere, but we really like the one that Dave Ramsey put together. http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/home/index.cfm?fuseaction=dspJustContent&intContentId=3006Good luck!

  11. That is how I budget as well and I’ve found it to be very helpful. It’s really nice to visually see how much you have left for the month or the week. The only thing different that I do that I might recommend to you, is gas comes out of the monthly stuff that i leave in my checking account to pay for bills, etc. This is for 2 reasons. One, I don’t want to pay with cash at the pump. And two, seriously, I’m not going to not drive somewhere because I don’t have the cash to get gas. Good luck!

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