We have been so encouraged by all the great ideas everyone has been leaving in the comments on the last several posts! We don’t get around to responding to everyone, but we probably do discuss every single idea and bit of advice we’ve gotten.
And so, we have some good news to share…Drumroll, please…….
We have an August Spending Plan! We are going to try several of the ideas you gave us with this month’s plan:
- Emergency Fund. We are going to start saving $300 a month to increase our emergency fund. After the discussion about having greater rental reserves and saving for home maintenance, our puny emergency fund that we had while we were renting began to feel inadequate.
- Budget Categories. Instead of having envelopes for 8-10 categories like in the past, we are going to reduce the categories to just a few necessary ones. All bills will be paid from our bank account directly. We will still use our debit cards for gas. We will set aside specific amounts for car repairs, groceries each week, pet food, and hair care. Everything else will be lumped into one big category that we will call Spending Money. We will each get $75 per week for all our personal needs: clothes, cosmetics, restaurants, coffee, household supplies, entertainment, etc. The $75 sounds like a lot but when you start some of these items, I’m sure it will go fast! I have to get tires on my car this month so I can pass state inspection, so that reduces the amount of spending money we have available.
- Cash. Our spending money will be withdrawn from the bank each week in cash. No more debit cards for day to day purchases. When it’s gone, it’s gone!
- Hair Care. This is Emily speaking: I’ve known for a while that I couldn’t keep spending that huge (unmentionable) chunk of money on my hair, so I was ready to look for other options. (I only went to such a fancy salon in the first place because they offered a really great Groupon deal for a cut and deep conditioning treatment.) Although I liked the suggestion to try Groupons for hair services, visiting a different salon every time, I am still a bit hesitant to try this because I’m afraid I’ll get hooked on another fancy salon. So at the recommendation of a few commenters, I tried going to The Aveda Institute. I have a few other options in mind, but I thought I’d start with this one, as it was something I’d been wanting to try for a while. I’ll give a full review of the experience once I’ve tried a few other options, and we can compare the results at that time. For now, I’ll just say that it was so-so. It took more than half a day to complete, they had to redo the cut AND the color, and it’s still wrong, but not totally awful. I wanted just a refresh of the color and the roots, and I ended up with a totally different style of (brown) hair. On the upside, I got a free massage, free tea (YAY!) and it was less than half of what I’d been paying. It felt great to spend so much less than I was spending, but I’m undecided about the experience. On to the next suggestion! Back to Adam: We are going to budget $100 per month for Emily’s salon visit and we agreed that if she wants to go once a month, she can find a $100 salon, or if she wants to spend $200, she can go every other month. I wish it was less money, but I learned a lot from the discussion here about what it’s really like trying to get a woman’s hair taken care of.
- Online Tools. We used to use Mint.com. It was easy when our budget was cash-based, but when we got away from using cash, then tracking all the debit card transactions in Mint became overwhelming. Since we’ll mostly be using cash, I may try to dust off mint.com and see if we can start tracking again.
It feels good to have a plan. I feel confident that we will have enough money to make it through the month, and that alone is a burden lifted. However, I know that $75 per week will be a significant pinch to how we’ve been living. I think we are both sort of dreading it. If we work together, we have $150 a week and should be able to do just about anything we want. If we act independently, it may be a lot harder. For anything that costs more than $75 and we have to save up for, we’ll have a much harder time.
So, thank you to everyone who shared their experiences and ideas with us! Hopefully August will be the month that we start gaining control over our finances!