Well, not really aloud, per se, but sort of, I guess. This counts as aloud as far as I’m concerned. Thinking for an audience. Whatever.
Before I talk about what I came here to talk about, I have to tell you that I got lunch at Pei Wei today. Soleil told me they have incredible tofu. She was right. Wowza! Yummy! And they also have brown or white rice, and they also indicate which items on their menu are vegetarian if you get them with veggies & tofu. So I got honey-glazed veggies & tofu with brown rice for lunch. I wasn’t really planning to eat out today, but (a) I left my leftovers at home and (b) my boss ordered in pizza and I don’t really care for pizza. Also, I was looking for a book and the Half-Price Books by my office didn’t have it, and I went to the one in Arlington to see if they had it; there was a Pei Wei along the way and I’ve been craving tofu. So it all kind of worked in this cosmically karmic way and I got my tofu. Didn’t get the book I was looking for, but I found another one and had a 30% off coupon, so all was well.
And yum. Tofu.
Okay. Here’s what I wanted to talk about.
I’ve been mega hyper focused on our finances lately. Ever since I read that Bach book on Smart Women Finish Rich, I’ve been thinking, planning, acting, and reading. I’ve since read a couple of other books, and a heckuva lot of blogs. I find that reading other people’s blogs helps me stay focused. I also find some good ideas that way.
So here’s what’s improved since then:
- I know where my money (personal allowance) has gone since then. I’ve still wasted too much of it, but I know what I’ve wasted it on.
- I have $110 in a higher interest savings account. That it’s $110 is due in part to my awesome husband who, when I boasted that I had $55 and had set up an auto transfer of $50 every payday, he told me to write myself a check for another $55. So yay to him! I think it’s paying 4.30% interest right now, which is substantially higher than the piddling interest my regular bank pays.
- I get paid Friday, and I haven’t run my personal allowance account down to zero–I have a little cash left, and I have $14 left in my checking account.
- I canceled Netflix, which will save me about $19 a month.
- When the catalogs come in the mail, instead of looking at them first and then putting them into the recycle bin, I don’t even bring them into the house. I immediately put them into the recycle bin.
- I took 4 bags of books to Half Price Books last weekend and sold them, thus clearing some space in the house as well as getting a little extra cash. The piddling amount of money I got compared to the amount I paid for those books will, I hope, be some incentive in helping me be a bit more cautious about buying more books.
- Last night instead of automatically going out to dinner, I stuck a frozen lasagna into the oven while Joe and I started clearing out one of our most cluttered rooms.
- I have registers in Excel for my 401(k), my cash, my checking account, and my savings accounts, and I update them daily so I always know how much money I have.
There is definitely a correlation between the debt and the clutter. How many times have I bought things that I didn’t need, to cheer myself up, or because I thought I deserved it, or for whatever tomfool reason I came up with? I couldn’t even begin to tell you. And how much of the clutter in our house is due to those types of purchases? And then we can’t find things we genuinely need, so we end up buying another one, or two, or three. Joe has gone from adamantly refusing to throw anything away “because we might need it someday” to realizing that we’ve got way more than we’ll ever need and than we can possibly use and than we have room for, and he was really helpful last night. We got a good 3 or 4 bags of rubbish out of the house last night. We didn’t finish getting that room cleared out, but we made a good start. I think we might have finished it up, but he got distracted and went to play guitar for a while. And I don’t want to push him too much. I think maybe we can finish it tonight while we’re waiting for goblins and princesses and spidermen to come knock on the door for treats.
And once we’ve got that room cleared out, it will make it so much easier for me to keep the kitchen cleaned. And then we can actually cook at home, and eat in the — gasp — dining room! Wow! I’ve found that if Joe will let me plan the meals, without him getting all freaked out about having to have meat substitutes, vegetarian cooking is a lot cheaper and more healthful than the meat eating that we used to do. If we can get that dang grocery budget down, we could put that money on snowballing the credit card debt.
This month things went askew also, because we had to buy a new refrigerator ($500) and had to get plane tickets and a rental car for a trip to Buffalo ($1000). But the refrigerator had to be replaced, and Joe’s mother doesn’t turn 80 every year. It’ll be the first time all her kids and their spouses have been together since 2004, I think. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone.
So when I get paid on Friday I’ll transfer another $50 over to my savings account. I’ll get my allowance. And I’ll put the rest into our family account to pay bills with.
I’m hoping to only spend half my allowance this time. When I record anything I spend in my register, I’ll note whether it was a want or a need with the goal being to cut way back on the wants.
Because my biggest want is to get out of debt and get my finances in shape for the things I truly want to do in life. And they don’t include nickeling and diming myself to death. We got out of debt once before, before almost immediately getting right back into debt, and far deeper. But my focus now isn’t only on getting out of debt. I have a long-term focus on being truly financially free to be able to take care of ourselves, and help our family and friends. We can’t do that when we’re ensnared in debt.