Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Gold Star and Goals

Lately, I've been pretty obsessed with finances, and I am tired of living paycheck to paycheck. With no food. A grumbly tummy will do that to you.

I even made out a huge grocery list last week, adding everything I could think of to it. My bill would have been astronomical! I've since pared it down.

Anyway, I was talking to dearest hubby about how much extra money we spend and he asked how do we spend so much, if we don't really do anything? I told him it was all food, and soda, and video games. The only things we do do. He seemed a little skeptical- because really, who spends all their money on food?

We do. I printed out last month's bank statement (Aug 15-Sep 15) and took a marker to everything that wasn't a monthly bill or gas. The numbers were shocking. We spent very nearly $700 on food/extras
I don't know how we spent that much, or why, or even where we got all that money! We certainly don't have that much money free after all the bills are paid.
Truthfully though, I don't pay all the bills on time, or sometimes at all. It depends. I'm never more than a month late though. I try really hard to pay them but sometimes it just doesn't work out.

I've adopted a new system and a new view on life. Keep it simple, stupid. Since I am too stupid or lazy (depends on the day) to manage my finances extensively, I've decided to do this:

1. Make a calendar in Google Calendars of all our bills, how much they are, on the day they are due.
2. Also on calendar, put dates that we get paid
3. I took all our expenses and divided them by 4, to find out what we owe weekly in bills. I took the yearly ones (like car ins) and divided that by 52 (weeks per year) and noted the total at the beginning of each week.
4. As we get paid, I will pay the bills right away.
5. As I pay the bills, I will physically write on the calendar how much money is left in our account. That way, if the company doesnt take the money out right away, I won't be fooled into thinking I've got more.
6. After the bills are paid- a GOLD STAR on the calendar!

I figure seeing a month filled of gold stars will fuel my sense of accomplishment and likely keep me on track. I'm tracking what goes in my mouth, so I should track what comes out of my pocket with such vigilance too!

I also made short-, mid-, and long-term financial goals with my husband yesterday. We talked about things we wanted (new XBOX slim, new drawing tablet, a puppy) and things that would be helpful (vacation fund, emergency fund, savings) and appropriate dollar amounts for each.

This is hanging on the fridge. Why? Most of our money goes to food. It's like hanging a picture of you in your skinny jeans on the fridge to help you remember what you're working for and not to eat that extra helping of left over spaghetti.

We also get a weekly allowance! YAY! My husband is really excited about this one, for whatever reason! Depending on what we can afford, it will be approximately $10-15 each, per week. If he wants a new game, he can save for it. Like he was a little kid again! If I want to go to Zumba for a month, I have to save for it. Same thing with clothes. Also having a limited amount each week will help me be thrifty, at least I hope. I'll be scouring the clearance racks!

Having goals that are easy to reach yet challenging enough is very important. I want to see success immediately, that way I don't feel like it's overwhelming, or that I am drowning in despair. I've been failing so many months at weight loss and finances because I've been setting unrealistic goals and not following through. It's time to buckle down and do some good for myself.


  1. Sounds like a great plan! We had the same problem and didn't know where our money was going until I did exactly what you did. Always food!

    So I created a budget, and adjust it monthly as I need to (I'm an excel freak, but it's actually pretty simple) and we live with the envelope system. Basically any cash we might spend throughout the month ($50 allowance, entertainment, etc.) we put into an envelope and once it's gone, it's gone. This really helps since we're living on one income and I only get paid once a month.

    You'll be amazed at how much money you have left over, later!

  2. What a great plan. I used to keep a BILL CARD very similar to your calendar. It works. Now I have direct deposit and use bill pay. Bills get paid on the same dates. I'm still not the greatest at saving but everything is paid on time... It helps me sleep.

    I think we spend about $150 every two weeks on groceries. We keep things simple. I wish I could get hubby to save and use an allowance...

    I think it's great that you both are looking at the finances and learning to save for things you want. I hope you're able to save for Zumba.

    We spend so much on entertainment that I think we'd be wiser to save instead.

    Good luck with your budget.



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