Thursday, January 9, 2014

No-Spend January Update

How is Old Man Winter treating you??  I tell you what, I'm ready for him to take his snow and cold temps and hit the road, Jack!  When it is as cold as it was earlier this week (in the negatives!) I don't want to go outside...in fact I refuse to!  But there are warmer temps in the forecast for tomorrow and this weekend and I am super stoked!  Spring is coming!!!  Maybe not for another couple months but it IS coming!!  That is how I keep my sanity these days....reciting that mantra until I see the daffodils blooming! 
 
Well, I thought I would pop in and let you know how No-Spend January is going.  Well, so far, so good!  We haven't overspent and are actually looking for ways to not spend!  Here are some things that I've been doing to keep me on track....
 
1.  Writing it all down.  Every paycheck, every debit card use, every check written gets written down.  A friend of mine suggested using an accounting ledger pad so I decided to give it a try.  I picked mine up (before January!) for @ $3 along with some pretty mechanical pencils that I have hidden from the kiddos.  (anyone else's kiddos steal mom's goodies?)  Using that ledger brings back memories of accounting class in college...it takes me to a happy place.  I open it up so there are 2 pages...one of the left (which is actually the back of the first page) and one on the right.  The left side is for my "envelopes" or budget accounts and the right side is for my spending ledger where I write all deposits and debits.  It's a bit complex, but so far I love it and it's working well.
 
2.  Make a menu.  I talked a bit about this one in a previous post.  I make a list of meals that I will make over the next week or so (usually one week lasts us more that 7 days because there are days we eat leftovers, etc.).  This also allows me to "shop" my pantry before heading to the store so I don't buy duplicates of things I already have.  It also helps me to have a plan instead of flying by the seat of my pants which results in eating out or eating unhealthful meals.  I am also finding a bit of enjoyment by using up items that are in my pantry and fridge!  You know all those condiment bottles that take up so much room in your fridge door?  Well I am trying to use them up and when I do I feel a sense of accomplishment.  Weird, I know.  It doesn't take much to entertain me. 
 
3.  Sell Things.  This is what I am working on today.  I have an entertainment center that we no longer use (we got a new TV last year and it won't fit in it), and we have been using it for make-shift storage for board games, blankets, etc.  Honestly, I love that entertainment center and envisioned painting it a fun color...but it no longer has a purpose and it's becoming a collect-all.  So I cleaned it up, took pictures of it, and will be posting it on a local selling group page on Facebook. 
 
4  Take a good look at your bills.  Are you paying for things you no longer need or paying for more than you actually need/use?  When you make up a budget for your family, you start to look for ways to free up money, because when you do, it allows you to pay off debt more quickly or build your emergency fund, or whatever you want to use it for!  Right now I am looking at our auto insurance bill that is due the end of this month and I am wondering if we could get a cheaper price by switching companies or by taking a couple of vehicles off the policy.  We have 2 trucks and 2 vehicles that hubby and I drive to work.  The one truck is strictly for pleasure driving and the other is for hauling firewood....but the total for those two vehicles is over $400...which would cut our bill in half for 6 months.  So I am going to be making a few calls this afternoon to get quotes!
 
5.  Be content.  Would I love to do a DIY project right now?  Sure!  What about go shopping for a pair of winter dress boots?  Uh-huh!  BUT...are either of them a necessity?  Nope.  The more we dwell on what we want, the more we want it.  And sometimes it can be hard to say no to ourselves!  Something that is helping me to overcome these wants is to make it sort of a game to try to cut costs enough to free up the money needed to buy the things we want.  If I end up $50 to the good on my grocery budget at the end of the month, then I can go out and buy one of these "luxury" items without feeling guilty for spending money that wasn't budgeted.
 
6.  Stay home.  I know, this one is boring.  And unrealistic if you work full-time.  I only work a few days a week but when I am in town on my work days, I try to fit in as many errands as I can while I am there so I can stay home on my days off.  This saves on gas and time in my opinion.  When I use my days off to just stay home, I get so much more accomplished here at home! 
 
Well I am having trouble thinking of more so I guess I will stop writing for now until I think of more!  Happy Thursday! 

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