Spending update…frugality, my new BFF

April 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm (overspending, spending habits) (, )

I’m excited for my planned budget diligence this month. I’m raring to micromanage my finances. Strange, but I made a decision about 2 weeks ago to not. spend. ANY. money beyond my current bank account/remaining budget for February, and it’s been really great to have that hovering over my thoughts and consuming me in my spending habits. What does that mean exactly? Well, it meant that after I paid off my previous massive spending on my credit card, I had very little left over. I had a few evenings of planned restaurant/bar spending ahead (happy hour with a free entree coupon from Outback to spend time with a close coworker that’s having a difficult time at work, then drinks and noshes with a friend I hadn’t seen in a few weeks). I put my foot down and decided not to spend anything further on my credit card. I couldn’t spend even $20 to buy “just a little something extra” at the store for dinner. I had just finished paying off my last 3 months of excess spending and didn’t want to hemorrage any more into March. Please note that when I say credit card spending, I mean not having enough in my budget, then spending on my credit union credit card temporarily, and paying it off within the same billing cycle. It basically means temporarily borrowing money before I pay it back in full (ie, it means poor planning and overspending during a single paycheck period!).

So I got to the point that I was forced to eat food out of the house and not buy any food that I craved but couldn’t afford. It meant that I scrounged to find food to prepare lunches. It meant that Il ived within my means. Crazy, huh?! Well, I made it, I got my paycheck today and I have already planned out most of my spending for the next few weeks – carefully, and with much deliberation.

I’m going to be uber-careful about food spending. I’ve noticed a really awful trend. Since being on my own in my new place, I have been a lot more wasteful with food. I have on more than one occasion, purchased some kind of meat, had it in my fridge, not cooked it in time before it expires, and instead gone out to eat with friends. That’s overspending by a factor of 2! And how wasteful! So I’ve decided to ONLY purchase food that I plan on eating in the next 2 days. I drive immediately by the supermarket that I shop at, so it takes no extra time to drive there. I am out of food and plan on stocking up tonight, but in a mini-way.

In the immediate future, I will be purchasing basics to have in the fridge (mostly veggies & fruits, lunch fixings, coffee and milk, and one protein for tonight). It doesn’t mean a full-out $75+ bill of food for the week, some of which has become spoiled before I get to it. It also means that I will not be going out to eat until this weekend. When I do, I will ration myself to ONE trip out. Yes one. If I don’t make it out, great – I have an extra trip out I can use later in the month. I will be buying a full tank of gas. I may go to costco and get the gas and get some cheese (but limit my spending in the store to $30 or less, which is completely insane at costco!). I may buy a bottle of liquor at the store (Apple Jack brandy, my latest favorite). But that’s it!!!

I will not be buying red wine every time I go to the store. In fact, I may specifically not purchase any for a few weeks (even at one a week, that’s $35 for a month!). I’ve been wanting red wine several times in the last few weeks, but hard liquor lasts much better than an opened but undrunk bottle of wine. And a tiny shot is really all I’m looking for. So no wine purchases for a while. I’ll probably make a few pots of soup this week, too, a great way to stretch spending.

I did get my first electric bill. WAAAY lower than I expected. Including a set up fee of $16, and including half a month of turning lights on for an hour during my deliver/unpacking phase before I lifted there, my bill for 5 weeks is $33 (which includes my heat!). So it’s $15-18 (extrapolated) for 3 weeks of use. I had no idea what to expect. A house is much more expensive than an apartment with shared walls and on an upper level! I had budgetted $50/month for electric, but I have already downgraded that to $30/month (and I expect it to be even less in the summer!).

The other major expense I now have to recover from is the purchase of my NEW roadbike! I spent a bit more than planned – I upgraded to the next level, and spent $1000 plus taxes and some service plans. I was able to get some financing (free for 6 months), which will let me pay it off gradually and within budget, with no fees. However, that means that I have much less disposable income for other things for the next 6 months. In a previous post I mentioend having $200 from selling an area rug – I will apply that, and what is left will basically come out to be $150/month until paid off. That leaves me with $50 of extra spending a month for anything not already budgeted for (my “extra” spending catagory is $200/month, for things like haircuts, photography supplies, entertainment, art purchases, you name it). I expect that to definitely be an issue, so I think I may  have difficulty staying on top of my $700 extra payments towards debt. And I still have a bunch of bike accessories that I need to purchase, too. I have made this deal with myself. If I can spend at least $600/month extra on debt, then I can consider buying something beyond the $50/left, but I’d prefer not to.

So. Frugality is going to be my BFF in the next few weeks. I will be very structured (and have been for 2 weeks!) and careful. I’m looking forward to seeing how good I can be!

Happy spring, all,
debtmaven out

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