Monday, January 31, 2011

AND I did NOT go out for dinner tonite

The last two hours of work were long and exhausting. Practically the entire time I thought to myself about how nice it would be to go out for dinner. I did pretty well with my spending today. I spent $9.25 and put $2.75 in the future purchases envelope. That money is officially earmarked for dog food. Today's budget is balanced but I came SOOO close to blowing it.

El Burrito sounded beyond good and after a long day of work I felt that I deserved it. I drove home fully intending to succumb to the third day in a row of my husband asking if we could go out to eat, "PLEASE!." Only he didn't ask. I was sure he would and it wouldn't be my fault because I would just be doing him a favor but he didn't ask. I used every ounce of energy left in me to keep my mouth shut, to walk to the kitchen and prepare inexpensive ground chicken meatloaves with a side of corn for dinner. It wasn't anything amazing but my appetite is appeased, there's $3.54 in the future purchases envelope, our budget is balanced, and we're working our way out of debt.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 29

I spent $11.21 today. I put .79 cents in the future purchases envelope. Ok so it's not $2 but I say .79 cents is better than nothing. Week 5 is off to an excellent start. The challenge now presents itself: as the money in the future purchases envelope hopefully increases I need to use it for necessary future purchases and not things like pizza or El Burrito. The husband has asked 2 days in a row now if we could go to El Burrito. So far two days in a row now we've responsibly resisted.

I enjoyed my delicious FREE caramel mocha at church today and my sister brought me 2 Cadbury eggs. I'm saving them for an extreme point of weakness. If they last until tomorrow I think they'll be a very detrimental instrument involved in getting that $2 into the future purchases envelope (THANKYOU STARR)! If it's a REALLY good day maybe I can get $3.21 into the envelope to make up for today.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stepping it up a Notch

I'm considering my first month of $12 a day successful and complete. 4 weeks are over. February is only 2 days away. I limited my spending to an average of $12 a day. I fought the urge to buy many, many Starbucks coffee's. I spent less than I ever have on food for the household. This was a challenging yet rewarding month. 

Month two begins with me hoping to step it up a notch. I REALLY need to start focusing on my first goal. I need to set money aside everyday or I'm going to run into some big budget busters in the really near future. I can't rely on extra money coming in and I need to budget for larger things like dog food and toiletry items. I lucked out with the $40 surplus for the cat litter but that is not always going to happen AND like I said earlier it would be ideal to put any surplus towards the debt. Living off of $10 a day is very possible but it's going to mean being even more motivated, even more self disciplined and not giving into those urges to splurge. 

Month two here I come... bring it on! 

January Budget is Balanced

As long as I don't spend any money today this week is officially balanced at $82.41. Remember I had to make up for the $1.59 I went over last week. I'm just going to be absolutely honest here. I'm sort of bummed that I've been hardcore penny pinching and sticking to this awful budget as best I can all month and I don't have any awesome debt relief news to share. I wish so adamantly that I could say, "HOORAY I paid off the overdraft," or "the little credit card is GONE!" It's frustrating working so hard and moving so slowly. Spending WAY less money than we used to is a huge accomplishment but it's not as rewarding as tackling those ugly monsters that are lurking in the bill drawer. I am bound and determined to obliterate the overdraft in February and in March the smallest credit card will be no more!

A bit of good news: Last night I won third place in a photo contest which awarded me $20. This morning very first thing without even thinking twice about it (ok maybe I thought about it a bit more than twice, anyway) I paid that $20 towards the overdraft. I would love to have gone out for dinner with that money. Pizza sounds SOOOO good right now. I could have put the money towards additional artistic endevours. It's silly that when I get a little extra money, say $20, I'm like "It's just a little bit of money. It won't matter that much if I spend it. I mean, what's $20 towards our HUGE credit card debt anyway. It won't even make a dent!" But I did what was right this time. That money has gone towards our debt. We're $20 less indebted to the big guys. That's one more step in the right direction. One more step towards freedom. Let's just keep stepping.


I have a free coffee coupon for the cafe at church tomorrow. You have no idea how much I am looking forward to that FREE coffee. It's going to be a HUGE caramel mocha I think : ) Oh, the little things!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Money

The Good: I had $40 budgeted for an event my husband was going to attend next month. The tickets sold out 1 day before he decided to buy them. The unfortunate circumstance left me with $40 extra for this month.

The Bad: The $40 is gone. My husband purchased an inexpensive video game. I went out for coffee and a cookie with some friends. I bought the cat litter we've been needing and a few other groceries. That $40 gave us a nice spending cushion but it should have gone towards the debt. This happens pretty much everytime we make a little extra or end up with a budget overage. We get our hands on a little extra and we spend it in a heartbeat. I virtually never put it towards the debt. I'm going to let it go this time. I'm not going to stress about spending the $40 and beat myself up about it. But next time we have extra money I need to act quickly and put it towards the debt. Maybe I should add that to the goals.

The Money: The budget for this week is balanced. (I guess purchasing groceries outside of the $12 a week budget was sort of cheating but it's my budget and so I get to make the rules.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Updating the Goals

Goal number one still consists of me attempting to spend $10 a day and attempting to put $2 a day towards bigger items like cat litter that costs $9 which we need right now but I can't afford to take $9 out of the food budget all at once because we need it for food.

I've changed goal number two from paying off the littlest credit card to not using overdraft. I'm ashamed to admit it but I use the overdraft account like my own personal cash advance store. It's awful. I don't even want to think about what I paid in fees and interest last year alone just from transferring money back and forth from overdraft to checking to overdraft to checking. I truly believe that only a fool in desperation would do such a moronic thing. I've been a complete fool. If we're tight I just pull money from overdraft which essentially is exactly the same thing as taking a cash advance out on a credit card. I "usually" pay back the money a few days after I pull it out but all I need to do is budget better and live more responsibly and I won't have to play that awfully expensive game. Really I don't want to give any more money to the bank than what I already have.

Goal number three is working with my husband to try and get him on board with the budget. He agreed to spend less this past week but it didn't quite go that way. He doesn't want to talk about the budget or hear about the budget or think about the budget but goal number three we've got to get something figured out here.

Goal number four is to pay off the littlest credit card by the end of March not the end of February like I'd hoped. I really need to pay back the overdraft account from extra Christmas spending before I tackle that other credit card. I REALLY wanted to pay off that card and I've crunched the numbers so many times trying to get it done in February but paying the overdraft is the more responsible thing and so that's what I'm going to do.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rough Week

This week has been really difficult. I've constantly been caving on little things like an $11 pizza for dinner one nite, $3.75 on a coffee, and $1.59 on a soda. It's frustrating because we haven't been what you might call splurging but I just can't catch back up. I am trying though. I only spent $4 total today. I will have to say that this week of insufficient will power has opened my eyes all the more to how every little bit counts. The pennies and dollars add up so fast and if you don't make them behave, as Dave Ramsey would say, then they get out of control in an instant.

We are currently $12.70 over budget (which is actually way better than yesterdays $20.70 over). I have 3 days left in the week to catch back up. Last week ended with us being $1.59 over budget. I do not want to go over again but my oh my this is going to take some work.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thank-you for joining me on this journey

This is a mid day blog. We're already $12.28 over budget today. Yes that's more than a whole day's worth of expenses. For some reason my husband brought home groceries (he NEVER buys groceries) and I bought some too. I REALLY want to just let go and buy everything I can think of right now. I don't know where my will power went but it seems to be gone today. I'm actually writing this mid day blog during my lunch break to try and build up a little strength so that I don't go back to work and spend another day's worth of money. I'm amazed at how this blog has kept me motivated and on track. I just feel like having to come here and admit my overages and being able to rejoice about sticking to the budget is really holding me accountable. This journey is hard. I've wanted to buy SOOOO many things that don't fit into the budget but I've been able to say no more times than I've caved partly because I have to report back to you.

Thank-you for coming along on this journey with me and thank-you for reading through these many many posts. This battle has only just begun but I do see freedom a ways off in the distance and the vision is liberating.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 22 Squash Spaghetti and Birthday Cake

I've officially made up for yesterday's/ last weeks $1.59 overage and now we are 44 cents under budget. I'll put that 44 cents into the future purchases envelope and call today balanced. Also we had an amazing lunch today AND my husband and I cooked together for the first time EVER. He brought home spaghetti squash, ground chicken, and ragu and we made noodle free spaghetti (totally his idea). For all those like me who never knew that spaghetti squash can double as noodles it was AMAZING! Don't get me wrong, it sounded gross, I was beyond skeptical but it was SOOO Good! We have a new meal, which is a miracle in itself because we only have about 4 regular meals that fit into our high protein, low carb, low cost menu. Hooray for today!

It is my mom's birthday today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM) but I didn't get her a present  (that's not too weird for our family though). The grandkids, my sister in law, and I made her a cake yesterday. I did a little photo shoot of the little ones baking and decorating the cake for her and I made a facebook photo album for her profile this morning. She liked it!

Keep in mind: This cake was baked and decorated by 1, 2, 3, and 4 year olds  : )

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Week 3 Closes with a GRRR

I went over by $1.59 this week. It's disappointing but it is what it is. I was sure we'd be fine because some friends invited us over for dinner tonite which means I didn't have to buy food for this evening. I stopped at the store to spend the remainder of this weeks money on Peanut Butter and Cocoa and Coffee creamer, all things we use alot of and ran out of awhile ago. I guess I got carried away (one to many creamers actually). I should have put something back but I didn't. Week three closes with us over budget. It's not the end of the world or anything. I will spend $1.59 less tomorrow but it's just the principle of the thing. GRRR.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Free Coffee

I had to get an oil change today. The poor little guy was 3000 miles over the change mileage. But I got free coffee while waiting so that was good. I took full advantage and drank two cups with swiss miss cocoa added (that's kinda like a mocha). The caffeine basically took away my appetite so I didn't need to buy any more food for the work day.

Today I spent $.99 on food for myself while at work and $1.98 on birthday cake fixins for my mom's upcoming big day. I spent $1.19 on mustard. That's it. WE are now $2.62 under budget for the week. As long as our groceries for tomorrow are no less that $14.60 we are good to go for week number 3. Hooray!

I STILL haven't put money away for future purchases but the dog food is dwinding slower than I thought it would and we don't need anything costly just yet. I'm going to have to begin focusing on goal number one next week. As for goal number three I talked to my husband a little bit yesterday and he very willingingly agreed to try and spend less money. I gave him a number to shoot for and he said he'd try his best.

So far so good. Now lets see about getting rid of that little credit card.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

String Cheese

The budget for the week would have been balanced today. I spent $9.82 on food for the day. Perfect. Then I decided that I would really like string cheese. Honestly aside from a few treats while at work and the coffee's that I've totally beat myself up for purchasing I haven't been buying any extras. I haven't been buying cheese, or soda, or popcorn... the list goes on; really just the bare minimum has been entering this house. We are now $5.32 over budget for the week but I'm glad I got the string cheese. It is delicious.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 18

I spent $5.05 on food today. We are currently $2.18 over budget for the week. That's a lot better than $9.36 over. Still no savings set aside but I'm reassured that I'll have the $12 a week budget balanced by Saturday.

Eggs and toast for dinner.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 17 A Long Journey to Freedom

I VASTLY appreciate your comments, thank-you. I think today I'll try and clarify a bit more of my situation.

I went through Dave Ramsey's financial peace university about a year and a half ago. Just before signing up for the class I  had come to the realization that the debt was real. I think that was the point when almost every penny coming in was going right back out before we ever saw it. We had spent to the point of having nothing left over for food, clothes, gas; we were overextended. But still I've always paid everything on time and never missed a payment. Before I signed up for the class I felt like we'd dug ourselves into a pit that we were NEVER going to get out of. To me it seemed like a dead end, like prison; life seemed doomed. Once I took the class I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. I realized that there was hope despite how far off it may be.

During the last year and a half we've paid down some debt. We stopped using credit cards the first day of class and haven't used them since. For the first time in 6 years our debt began to go down instead of up (sad, yes... and embarrassing) and it's been going down ever since. I've learned how to stop buying stuff and I really don't miss making purchases but food has been a real issue for me. I hate sticking to a budget and I wasn't ever able to do the cash spending money part of the Dave Ramsey program. I guess you could say that for the last year and a half we've VERY slowly been assimilating Dave Ramsey's principles and we've very slowly been climbing out of the hole. This $12 a day thing is my cash envelope part of the program.

The only principle left that I'm trying to work on is the budgeting TOGETHER. My husband doesn't want anything to do with the finances. I think he's too ashamed to deal with the real situation and so he doesn't want to hear about it or know about it or think about it. This basically sums up goal number 3 on my list. I need to try harder to comfortably get him on board.

This blog may make it sound like I'm super depressed and like I'm beating myself to a pulp but I'm going at this thing with every ounce of energy I've got. I want to get out of debt ASAP. I want to suck it up and be responsible. I'm not depressed but in writing this blog I hope to chronicle my journey and be able to look back on my mistakes and my successes. I'm just being brutally honest.

Our situation does sort of warrant full force frugality. We can't turn down the heat because we have two little dogs that start to shiver if it's one degree less than what it's set at. We don't have cable or cell phones. We do have netflix but I think my husband would die without that (and it is super cheap). I drive ALOT for work, but other than that we walk most places in town and don't drive around too much. Also we have a very fuel efficient car. I can't find any loop holes in the budget, any things we can pay less for or cut out... I think for the past year and half I've gotten it all down to the basics. Things are just tight. Our debt to income ratio is too high and unless we just suck it up, spend less, and pay down what we owe we're just going to have to keep penny pinching and money juggling. Honestly there's no extra money for spending if we want to get out of debt. If I budget in spending money (which wouldn't be very much) then we'd have to pay minimums on all our cards and they just wouldn't go down.

I would like to mention the light at the end of the tunnel once more. I do see hope in the future and I do plan on continuing to eat out and to buy new clothing now and again; I do plan to continue to travel (which is something we LOVE to do) and I'm ok with my husband buying CD's, games, and movies. But right now, right now I want to just tackle this thing and if it means not buying starbucks and all the other little things, which in my case is where my money goes, then I'm going to grit my teeth and fight the fight. So what if I'm uncomfortable for a little while. The victory will be well worth the fight. A life free of credit and debt where we're responsible spenders and savors, where we act our wage is something I look forward to with a joyful anticipation.

We are currently $9.36 over budget for the week.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Today was HORRIBLE! The very first thing I did this morning was spend the $3.64 that wasn't spent yesterday. I "had to" have a coffee from starbucks. No, I didn't "have to," but that ugly little cartoon me standing on my left shoulder convinced me otherwise and I wasted the money on it. As if that wasn't bad enough I proceeded to buy food that I was sure we "needed" and went way over budget for today. We are $9.44 over budget for the week. The sensible cartoon me didn't even show up for work today.

The ironic thing is that I half think the reason I was so inclined to buy buy buy is because I've been super stressed about our finances this week. WAY tight until Thursday (ok, with as tight as the budget is we're WAY tight until I don't know when). I've noticed that whenever I get really stressed about money I tend to let my guard down and spend more. It doesn't really make any sense. The only thing I can compare it to is how a drug addict screws their life up more and more and more each time they use drugs but the more screwed up they get the more they need the drugs. It's comforting to acquire things especially hot coffee's, refreshing sodas, relaxing dinners out at restaurants and cadbury eggs. When I'm really stressed about money I feel like I need to spend money in order to relieve the stress. (Obviously that doesn't help)

Today I'm setting a few first goals for this thing:
The first goal is to spend $10 a day. Originally that was my plan. I figured $10 was enough money for all the food we would really need. Then I realized we were going to need more than that for household supplies and you name it. That's where the $2 came in. I've been completely neglecting my original plan and just spending the $12 each day. So goal number one is to spend $10 a day and set aside $2 a day for larger purchases that don't happen daily or weekly for that matter.
The second goal is to pay off our smallest credit card ($285) next month. This goal is feasible. I have it budgeted to be paid next month BUT I've had it budgeted to be paid off for the last three months in a row. We can pay this card off by next month IF we actually stick to our budget; if we don't constantly buy all the little extra luxuries; if we're responsible adults.
The third goal will be the most difficult. My third goal is to try and get my husband on board with the budget. He hates it when I talk about money. He wants nothing to do with the budget but without him on board I'm not really going anywhere.

I don't need expensive coffees.
I don't need soda's, ever really, for any reason... they're super unhealthy.
I don't need to go out to eat.
I NEED to get out of debt!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

First day of third week

Today my husband and I went for a nice long walk. We stopped and got a hot cocoa and coffee. The coffee was free because of a punch card, yay! We spent $3.25 on our walk (it was a very large hot cocoa). We spent $5.11 on lunch. We haven't any food for dinner but as we're currently thawing out from the FREEZING cold approximately 10 mile walk I don't see us going to get any food either. So today we spent $8.36. Which leaves us $3.64 under budget. I plan to take that money out of the bank tomorrow to put in the future purchases envelope.

A dog food purchase is coming up really fast and that's NOT cheap. My mom's birthday is 7 days away. We're almost out of shampoo and conditioner and toilet paper. Grr... I have not been going over budget but I have also not been planning very well. I REALLY need to buckle down this week, spend no money on sugary treats, no money on coffee, and plan for super inexpensive dinners (if that's possible... lately our dinners have been costing under $4 total for both of us).

Here goes.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day 14

We spent $9 today. $3 has made it's way to the future purchases envelope. The $12 a day budget for this week is balanced. Two weeks of success!

I leave you with my thoughts... posted over a year ago:

I wonder, is a utilitarian economy achievable? At present it seems that our weak and crumbling economy is designed and functioning to serve no one and nothing but itself. Those at the top aren’t happy. They’ve every imaginable pleasure in the palm of their hands, but honestly does anyone believe they’re actually happy. The middle men, the middle class, strive and toil and dream the American dream of embracing and climbing the economic ladder and maybe one day finding themselves at the top.

If you work hard enough and preserver long enough you too can obtain the pleasures of the world and not be happy. And then we reach the bottom to discover the peasants who live in impoverished countries all over this planet and work ceaselessly crafting the economic goods fueling our system, cheap enough for the rich to prosper off of them, and affordable enough for us, that we might believe we’re living luxuriously. This system seems to be benefiting no one. Who’s actually happy? We’ve all the goods we can imagine filling our stores (mostly all enormous now as the little ones are on the brink of extinction, a necessity for economic growth), filling our homes, and overtaking our landfills.

Our lives seem to possess a greater void than ever before and yet at present saving our precious economy seems to be the issue at the very top of the Bill. And so I wonder is a utilitarian economy achievable or are we all doomed to live pointless materialistic lives never really realizing fulfillment or freedom. Forever stepping on the little guy, while increasingly destroying the world we call home? What are we fighting to save but destruction itself?
We are a society of notoriously unhappy people- lonely, anxious, depressed, destructive, dependent- people who are glad when we have killed the time we are trying to save. 
-Erich Fromm

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thoreau: Pure Genius

I've been needing clothes for quite some time. First of all I lost a pretty decent amount of weight about a year and half ago and secondly I never buy clothes. Thus my clothing is old and baggy. My husband and I set aside some money over Christmas time so that I could go shopping and get some nicer shirts and better fitting pants. Unfortunately (more for him than me) our dog needed surgery the first week of this year. The vet bill was a hefty $475. The Christmas "clothes" money was gone faster than you could blink. Instead of a new wardrobe I got a healthy dog for Christmas. And here I sit rather silly looking.

This is going to sound ridiculous I imagine but I don't care about getting new clothes. I would like to look nice for my husband but other than that I've never cared much about peoples opinions. I'm very happy with who I am as a person and I don't mind at all wearing clothing in a utilitarian sense. I don't need to wear my identity. I am me. With that being said, please excuse my worn out incredibly unfashionable apparel.

I LOVE this:
As for clothing, to come at once to the practical part of the question, perhaps we are led oftener by the love of novelty and a regard for the opinions of men, in procuring it, than by a true utility. Let him who has work to do recollect that the object of clothing is, first, to retain the vital heat, and secondly, in this state of society, to cover nakedness, and he may judge how much of any necessary or important work may be accomplished without adding to his wardrobe. 
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit? If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes. All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be. Perhaps we should never procure a new suit, however ragged or dirty the old, until we have so conducted, so enterprised or sailed in some way, that we feel like new men in the old, and that to retain it would be like keeping new wine in old bottles.
-Henry David Thoreau

Last year I purchased 2 pair of pants for work and 1 work shirt, 2 pair of blue jeans, 1 pair of shorts, 2 tank tops, 2 t-shirts, a few socks and NO new shoes. This year I intend to acquire even less new clothing. Once I am out of debt I believe I will be as close as one can get to becoming a new person. Then I believe I shall need a new wine bottle to contain the new wine.


Day 13

I spent 99 cents today.

We're back on budget!

The only problem is that I still haven't managed to even start a spending savings for things like Dog food, shampoo, birthday gifts, and dining out. Ok... We did have $12 that we spent on dining out but that leaves us back at ZERO savings. Also, my mom's birthday is less than 10 days away. I guess I'd better start making something.

People Tend to Believe What They're Told

When I was a kid my brothers believed that I had magical powers and I could make m n m's appear in empty m'n'm wrappers. I used to save about 6 candies in my wrapper. I'd crumple it up and make it seem like I'd eaten them all and then I'd ask if they wanted me to magically make more. Of course they loved the trick and they'd always eagerly await the spectacular show. I'd slowly uncrinkle it while thinking really contemplatively and wha-la m n m's would "magically" fall out of an "empty" m n m wrapper.

What I find fascinating is that total strangers, actually people we never even see tell us that we NEED a new car, a bigger, better, faster nicer vehicle and we tend to believe them. We're told by clothing companies, and magazines and by our friends (usually it's an unspoken message in this last case) that we NEED nicer, cooler, more fashionable clothes and shoes and all the accessories. The television and big bill boards are constantly telling us that we NEED a better cell phone. I think it's crazy that we believe them. I don't think we need any of that stuff. These things may improve our self esteems (but we do NOT need them for that); they might (and that's a tiny might) add a bit more convenience to our busy lives; these things will almost definitely give that exciting rush of the NEW purchase... but that wears off.

The truth is I can't make m n m's appear in empty wrappers. My brothers occasionally would find a wrapper or bring me their empty one and I would have to put on a good show inspecting it and deciding that it was defective before they'd let me off the hook but they never figured it out. They never saw through it.

The truth is that those people who are telling me that I NEED all kinds of "new" stuff, they can be pretty dog gone convincing but they're wrong. It's all just a show.

Day 12

Once again I spent $12 and got everything I needed for the day. BUT as soon as I walked in the front door my husband says, "El Burrito?" which is our favorite restaurant and a question that only has one answer. The future purchases envelope is now empty (I hope our dogs and cat eat very slowly this month) and $11 for tomorrow is gone as well.

We are now $11 over budget.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 11

I spent $5 on food today and put the rest in the future purchases envelope.

So far so good!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Good Day 10

Today was monetarily terrific. I bought 2 Cadbury eggs (thats all the food I purchased for myself today). I had an empty Starbucks coffee bag which I exchanged for a free cup of coffee at Starbucks. I brought 2 PB sandwiches to work with me which along with the coffee and Cadburies suited me quite well. I found a bottle slip on the floor in Meijer for 90 cents. Ever since I started this thing I've begun to realize just how much every penny counts. Just the other day I desperately needed just one dime in order to get everything I wanted and still stay within the budget for the day. Just 10 cents. (I did actually find an empty pop can though so... Yay for 10 extra cents)

Ok, so I gave in to the candy craving today... obviously I don't need candy. I don't feel bad about it though. I feel like it was a tiny reward for all the hard work I've put into this thing so far. Spending just $12 a day is really difficult. I've had to cut out all coffee shop purchases. I'm not bringing home little extras like 2 Liters of Diet Squirt, microwave popcorn, bagels, cheese... I've been buying the basics and leaving all the rest behind. We haven't eaten out since I started this budget. (I REALLY love pizza) Today was good. I treated myself a tiny bit and I didn't have any huge fights to work through. Practically every single day I feel like I've got the classic cartoon little me instigators sitting atop my shoulders. The gruff boisterous me shouts, "it's only a dollar, it's only forty nine cents!!! Just buy the dang thing... it'll make you happy... IT'S NO BIG DEAL." The sensible, responsible (but much weaker) little me quietly urges me to, "be strong, do the right thing, climb out of this debt dungeon that you've dug yourself into." Not today however. They both took a break and I didn't have any struggles. Today was good.

$12.69 worth of groceries for the day left me with 21 cents extra (remember I found 90 cents). I've still got $5 in the future purchases envelope. We have plenty of food for dinner. I don't feel that I bought anything excessive. The budget for today and for this week so far is balanced.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 9

I took $12 out of the bank today, bought groceries and put $5 in the future purchases envelope.

The budget for today is balanced.

I almost bought a cadbury egg but I was able to resist  : )

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 8

I spent today's $12 on Friday when I bought groceries for the weekend. Not an additional penny has been spent. Today's budget is balanced. I haven't set aside any money for larger upcoming purchases like dog food, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, ect; I'm starting to sweat a little about that. We also don't have any "eating out money," which I'm not a fool, I know we're going to need. This week I'm going to have to be super diligent and pinch those pennies to the max in order to get some dollars in the savings envelope. With last week officially conquered I think I can safely handle this week but I'm not looking forward to fighting those urges for coffee and soda and sweets, grrr.

And for anyone who's interested we don't eat any prepared foods; like frozen pizzas, hamburger helper, tv dinners. My husband and I are pretty set on eating fresh lean meats, fruits, and vegetables (except of course when we go out to dinner (which is probably why eating out is so appealing)). Honestly eating healthily at home is not the cost efficient route. It's expensive but the health benefits like lower fat, lower sodium, and more nutrition are worth the cost. So, in case you were wondering my $12 a day budget is being spent on real food, not cheap food. This is really difficult. But I'll let you in on a little secret: so far I'm kind of having fun with it.

Starting week 2

I've never fully understood why the Bible instructs "to owe no man anything." This might sound like absolute stupidity. Honestly though it's just one of those things that I knew I wasn't supposed to do but I didn't ever really understand why. So what if you borrow money as long as you pay it back right?

The other day when I came to the realization that every penny I bring home really belongs to the people I owe that penny to I also began to understand God's instruction against debt. Everything belongs to God. No questions asked I believe that statement. However, when you borrow money until you pay back your creditor all of your money now belongs to them. You're really just continually borrowing money from the people you owe. You've single handedly taken God out of the equation. He can't really ask you to give any of your money to the poor because it's not your money any longer (or His). He can't really use that money to bless you because it's not your money any longer (or His). I guess it's one of those super fun spiritual principles: If you borrow money until you pay it back you're screwed.

This is just what I've been thinking about today. I'm slowly but surely laying all the mental foundation I need inorder to stick to the budget and pay back what I've borrowed (even though it's going to take YEARS!).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Slave to the Lender

I have two primary reasons for wanting to get out of debt NOW: So much of our income is tied up in payments (and interest payments) that we can't afford things we need anymore and the weight of the debt just sitting there over our heads is unbearable. I need it to be gone.

The other day I was fighting with myself over a pop. I had a headache, I was super thirsty, work was dragging by more slowly than one would think possible and I was pretty certain that a soda would grant me at least a few moments of alleviation and delight. Once again I thought I'd lost the battle. I decided to spend the money on the pop. I had to have it (my priorities are so skewed). "What's a $1.49"... this is always my argument... "it's just loose change!"

But then I realized a $1.49 that I don't have; a $1.49 that's not in my budget is a $1.49 that I'm essentially borrowing from one of my creditors (even though we stopped using charge cards over a year ago). Do I really want to owe Discover card or Chase $1.49 (plus interest) for any longer than I have to? Is a pop today, and maybe tomorrow, and maybe a few days from then (which adds up to WAY more than $1.49) worth the burden?

That one soda fight FINALLY made me realize that my money; the little bit that I work really hard for isn't mine, none of it is. Every penny I bring home is owed to someone that I borrowed it from and every time I spend a cent, be it on food that I need to survive or payments towards heat and electricity I'm essentially borrowing money from someone. That's sickening to me. I am not free. I do not own anything (figuratively speaking). I do not have an income. My money belongs to a long list of creditors and even though I always pay my bills on time, and even though my credit score is amazing, and even though no one is coming after me for delinquency or what have you, until I pay back every last dollar, every penny I spend is a penny borrowed.

I'm ready to grow up and take responsibility and get my life back (I think).

Budget is still balanced and the in laws are having us over for dinner. I love it when I don't have to buy food!!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cookie Salvation

I bought groceries for today and for the rest of the weekend. I spent $34 which means there's no money left until Monday. I'm OK with that though because I don't need anything before Monday.

This week's budget of $12 per day is officially balanced.

I do have to say that I was saved by chocolate delight cookies today. While I was at work I wanted to go to this neighboring coffee shop which has THEE best mocha I've ever had: "Caramel Goodnite." I'd pretty much resolved to waste the money on it (which would have been close to $4) and go over budget for the week. I was frustrated with my weakness but I couldn't say no. I had to have that coffee. As I worked and continued dreaming about the heavenly brown beverage I remembered that I had Nestle combination dark chocolate mint chips at home. Light bulb: Instead of the $4 coffee I went home during my lunch break and made amazing cookies. I didn't go over budget for the week. I consumed a few extra calories. I had my sugar fix and a very pleasant lunch break. All in all the cookies were a really great compromise!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Where my money story starts

My husband and I both came from households consumed by debt. I know my parents had 2 mortgages. My mom eventually got to the point of not having enough income to pay the bills. My husband and I both acquired our first credit cards before we got out of high school and we both entered into our marriage with several charge cards mostly maxed out.

We spent the first 5 years of our marriage not ever fully comprehending that we had to actually pay back the money we were spending. I know it sounds stupid. It was stupid. Honestly we came from debt, we didn't understand debt, and apparently we were completely oblivious to the value of money. That being said, about 3 years ago we realized we were in trouble. Somehow it hit us (or at least me) that the money we charged was actual money that we really owed to someone and we were going to have to pay it back eventually.

We spent 5 years buying stuff that probably should have taken 20 years to pay for. I was VERY successful at shuffling balances to %0 cards until the economy all but crashed. There's basically no such thing as %0 now and we're throwing money away on interest rates that we can't escape from. We have INCREDIBLE credit scores but we can't afford to have kids. We've been married for 8 years and it would be so ridiculously irresponsible for us to bring a child into this financial mess.

The matter of fact is: we've wised up and we're ready to do something about the monster we created.

This is my story.

Day 5

Today I splurged and bought a pop. I shouldn't have since I'm still over budget but apparently I LOVE beverages. All of my strongest cravings so far have been for coffee or pop.

Today I spent $7.40 ($1.49 of that was wasted on a refreshing but unnecessary soda) which leaves us $2.00 over budget for the week.

Additionally I bought Dinner for Shmucks for my husband ($21.20). I am not including that purchase in my $12 a day budget however because he worked a lot of overtime last week, he's been begging me to let him get the movie, and he should be allowed to spend (at least) some of his extra income on stuff that he wants.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day 4

With the $4 I set aside on Monday, some empty pop cans I rounded up this morning, and an additional 51 cents I was able to get food for dinner and some wet dog food for my little guy who just had a few teeth removed.

I wanted McDonalds coffee today but there was tea in my car and free hot water at work so that worked out well. For lunch and a snack I brought 2 PB sandwiches, 2 bananas, and a protein bar from home.

Just writing this blog is really keeping me motivated. Normally I would have caved on the coffee (and several other things I wanted today) I mean "its' just $1." But knowing that I have to report back to cyberspace helped to keep me on track. I think accountability is an important factor in accomplishing goals.

Today 51 cents left the bank account which leaves us at $6.63 over budget for the week. I'm catching back up.

I did notice that the cadbury eggs are popping up in stores already. This could be a problem. I think I have a cadbury egg addiction. I didn't buy any though. I just kept on walking.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 3

I wasn't planning on buying anything today but after sitting in my car for to long in the freezing cold during my lunch break I ended up spending $3.34 on coffee. It was warm and delicious and it brought color back to my fingers but I have to admit I'm ashamed for spending the money on it.

Additionally I wasn't going to spend a penny on groceries but then I decided that we "needed" yogurt and bananas and paper towel (which I HATE that I bought because I don't even think it's necessary) and I don't remember what else. That came out to $13.53.

Now I'm $18.12 over budget for the week. I still think I can do this!!!

On a positive note. After my husband and I worked out tonite I desperately wanted Chinese food (which costs a bundle). I had to wash dishes in order to make dinner. I stood at the sink washing, and grumbling, and fighting with myself. I'd completely resolved not to make the meatloaf. I was just going to walk into the bedroom and say "honey, lets get Chinese." He loves Chinese. I'm sure he would have said yes. I kept washing. Kept planning on eating delicious Chinese food for dinner. Kept washing and then, "NO! I'm making Meatloaf! I am NOT going to spend any more money today!!!" and that was that. The ground chicken meatloaf with corn as our side was fine. The Chinese would have been SOOOOO much better. But I'm beyond happy that I resisted. 

I can do this.

Day 2

The day was going incredibly well until dinner. I'd taken $12 cash and didn't spend it all. I placed $4 in an envelope for things like dog food and household goods (stuff that's gonna cost way more then $12 when we run out). Then we ate out AGAIN. We had delicious subs that cost $13.25.

Today I went over by $13.25 BUT I have 5 days left in the week to get back on track.

Day 1

We have food in the house. We spent $8 on a pizza and $4 on a video game rental (I say we... haha).


Day 1: Success.

Here Goes

The Plan: Spend an average of $12 a day on food, household supplies, and gifts.

The Goal: Freedom!