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Today, mediocre

July 15th, 2004 at 05:10 pm

Today I ate 2 meals out, but ate both for a total of $5.

All in all, a mediocre saving day.

Budgeting specifics -- little things

July 14th, 2004 at 04:03 am

I estimated what I spend yearly on stuff that I don't even think about; Stuff I've gotten into the habit of buying, even though it doesn't give me that much satisfaction.

My estimated total on magazines, and most of the food and beverages purchased outside my home came to an extra $914.00 per year. That's allowing for the cost of the replacement items, and eating fast food once a week.

That is a very nice vacation, without any additional charges going on my card. Heck, it's 2 or 3 pretty nice vacations. Next summer I can have my cake and eat it, too.

Adding up

July 14th, 2004 at 03:29 am

I started saving my change in a jar a week ago. I buy a lot of things with exact change (I'm not using the system in the article on this site). I'm also not saving for Long-Term Investment. I'm saving for the fun things that I have traditionally put on my credit card.

I have $8.75 already. It's helping me see how just a little savings can add up. I can also see that if a little saving adds up that way, then a little spending would, too. I want to travel and do things with my family and friends a lot more than I want magazines, over-priced sodas out of machines, etc.

So I'm definitely going to see how I can change my habits to line up with my prioritites better.

Temptations avoided - 2

July 14th, 2004 at 03:13 am

I was invited by a dear friend to go to Chicago next weekend. My friend lives in a very small apartment with a roommate. Well, roommate is going out of town, freeing up the couch for me. (The last time I went to visit, I paid for hotel costs. No, actually, I'm STILL paying for hotel costs.)

Unfortunately, my car has a bit of a squeak. I've called to get it looked into, but they can't get the part and start work until sometime Friday. No guarantee they'll even get done Friday, either. The garage indicated that they thought it would be a minor, relatively inexpensive repair.

Now, driving to Chicago and flopping would have stretched my budget, maybe even exceeded it, but I probably would have gone. But I checked airfare, and it's just too much. Last week, I very easily might have gone anyway. In fact, my neice was encouraging me to go: "$200 on airfare is only $100 each way".

Plus gasoline for someone to drop me off and pick me up at the airport. Plus any beverages/snacks consumed while I waited to board the airplane. Plus any meals and entertainment expenses in Chicago. I probably would have taken close to $200 to drive there. I could have tried to be really careful, and done better. But I wouldn't have expected less. Flying would put the trip to $300, at least.

And I called my friend back and let him know I couldn't swing it with my car in the shop.

Bittersweet. I really wanted to go. But I guess I really am going to change my spending habits this time. Looks that way.

Temptations avoided - 1

July 14th, 2004 at 03:01 am

Yesterday, I looked into computer software to make calendars. The nice kind, with portrait photographs. The only place I've found so far offered free software to design the calendars. Printing requires either buying additional software, or taking the design to one of their locations.

One week ago, I would have bought the entire package, and assumed I was being wise. Yesterday, I decided to wait, to see if I really intend to give calendars as gifts, and to compare the prices of making calendars (paper, printing fee) to make sure it is within my budget. Especially since I'd want to get most of the people on my list a gift in addition to a calendar.

Money saved yesterday

July 13th, 2004 at 06:41 am

Yesterday, I rented a movie and ate in twice, when I was tempted to have lunch and dinner out, and see a movie in between. I was out with my niece. I brought her home, cooked, and watched the movie we'd rented. It was just as nice a time.

Gifts and Invitations -- Impromptu

July 12th, 2004 at 05:03 am

This year, I'm getting serious about budgeting. I have my 'play' money budgeted. If I'm invited somewhere with enough time to plan, I'll save for it out of that money. If I can't pay for the activity without busting the bank, I won't go. Same for gifts that 'come up'. (Wedding, funeral, baby showers). I'll do the best I can for folks within my budget. $5 will buy an inexpensive baby outfit, or a nightie for the bride. $5 each, going in with 2-3 other people, will get a small appliance. A note card, written after everyone else has gone on with their lives is nearly free, but still a caring gesture toward the bereaved. (And gestures are all we can offer our acquaintances after a loss, anyway. With friends and family, physical and emotional support is required, rather than finanial.)

Money attitudes

July 12th, 2004 at 04:48 am

Most of my financial ineptness comes from my attitude about money, rather than ignorance or actual deficit in income. The money skills I learned growing up don't work as well now that I have a little discretionary money.

I tell myself that "I deserve XYZ"
I buy smalll things while deliberately not looking at how much they total.
I have a hard time declining invitations for activities I can't afford.
I have a hard time buying gifts on a budget.
I really want to buy luxuries for my relatives and friends. But I've expanded my own standard of living, too. I can't afford to do both at the same level at the same time.

The biggest problem is not looking at the big picture, hardly ever. I don't buy ANYTHING I can't afford. I just can't afford to keep buying ALL of it.

First things first

July 11th, 2004 at 09:13 am

The very first financial goal I need to work on is paying off my credit card debt. Once I am free of 22.9% interest payments on stupid stuff I couldn't afford 5 years ago, I'll be in a much better position to prioritize my other spending.

Learning to live within my means minus a substantial-pay-off-the-principal-payment to the Visa people may be enough challenge for right now. Since I've been living above my means for years, it will be quite a change.

Getting Started

July 11th, 2004 at 09:10 am

I'm mildly fond of the quote, "I try to take it one day at a time, but sometimes, several days gang up and attack me at once."

I feel that way about money sometimes. I know the difference between wants and needs, and I can be very frugal while meeting my needs. But once I indulge a want or two, all my wants seem to jump on me at once.

Some is 'stuff' that I genuinely covet. Some is 'stuff' that I feel some outside pressure to own (particular clothing, etc.). I need to prioritize, I know.