Ten Rules/Goals for my Spending Diet December 31, 2012Posted by phoenixhopes in Uncategorized.
What’s a diet without rules? Or goals? OK, I’m sure I could think of something else to call it rather than a diet and forget about those things. If I did that, I seriously doubt I’d be very successful. It would last about as long as most diets do… until a bit of temptation showed it’s ugly head.
1. Spending money on needs can and should be done guilt free. (Observation the first… I’m way too good at guilt. I often feel guilty about things outside of my control or responsibility. I’m working on that one. Observation the second… Thinking about Wants vs Needs in December, the most commercial, consumption driven month of the year was darned inconvenient. A very good exercise, but inconvenient. Most definitely my Christmas shopping was influenced by that mental exercise.)
So what are those guilt-free needs?
- Housing costs (rent, utilities, renters insurance, etc)
- Car expenses (gas, insurance, maintenance, etc)
- Commuting (train and bus ticket)
- Planned purchases
- Medical expenses (c0-pays, prescriptions, vitamins, etc)
- Planned trips (church related retreats, visits to kids, etc)
I may add additional items to this list, but this is it for now.
2. Only buy good coffee. This means freshly roasted, fair-trade coffee. If I can find it locally, great (I haven’t been successful so far but I haven’t looked as hard as I maybe could either… if anyone local has suggestions, I’m open.) Since I haven’t found it locally, I generally order from Deans Beans. My preference is his Mexican Chiapas and I often order five pounds at a time. Hey, I like coffee and go through it fairly quickly. Now that I’m an empty nester and there isn’t anyone here regularly to share my coffee, I may order smaller quantities. Going forward I would rather drink no coffee at all (perish the thought!) than poor quality coffee.
3. No new clothing. OK, my first caveat… if it’s purchased using my “Free Spending Money” and it’s a really good deal (super clearanced) and I have an honest need for that item of clothing and I have already made or repurposed at least three items of clothing since the last new purchase. I’ll expand on this rule in a later post.
4. Work gifts and work-related charity donations have a $10 limit. In 2012 there were three babies born to my Team members and one wedding. Plus there are often fund raisers for different charities (bake sales and/or 50/50 raffles). While I am not obligated to put anything towards anything, I generally do pitch in towards group gifts. I can do so guilt free while on this Spending Diet.
5. Spend as little as possible on groceries while maintaining healthy eating habits. I have a tendency to over buy food. Some of that comes from having a household of six plus frequent guests for meals and some from learning to shop sales and loss leaders. With only one person to feed most of the time now, I need to re-learn how to shop. I can still shop the sales and loss leaders but maybe I only need to buy 3 or 4 of an item to stock up rather than 10 or 15. The healthy eating habits is just as important, perhaps even more important, than the spend as little as possible part. Sometimes the cheapest food isn’t the best for the bulk of the diet. Rice and pasta is great, but as a side dish, not the main one. I need to make sure I’m also eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
6. All alcohol purchases come out of my Free Spending Money rather than the grocery or household budget. At the risk of sounding like a real lush to those who don’t know me well, I really don’t drink all that much. Especially now that I’m living alone, I am very aware of the dangers of over consumption and bad habits. But I do enjoy a drink now and then. Maybe a glass of wine a couple times a week, or a splash of homemade coffee liquor in my cocoa or coffee. I do realize however, that this is definitely not a Need but a Want and as such, I must treat it that way. I will also admit to stocking up a little during December. I bought a few bottles of my favorite Moscato (three bottles for $10) and made a batch of homemade coffee liquor to get me started. I’m thinking this should get me through the first half of the year.
7. I’ve mentioned the Free Spending Money. I’m setting aside $50 out of each paycheck for “free” money (every other Friday if you’re wondering). This will need to include any food at work (incentive to take my lunch), personal treats, new clothing, thrifting, music, etc.
8. Figure out how to lower what I’m paying for those things considered necessities. I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ll be cutting out cable (or at the minimum going to a less expensive plan). I’d also like to see how much I can cut my electric bill. I wonder how long I can make a tank of gas last in my car.
9. No eating out alone. I won’t say no eating out at all because this is the only way I am able to connect with some friends. We don’t see each other often and when we do we meet for a meal. I’m ok with spending money on that. I’m not ok with going out to eat simply because I don’t want to cook. Or because “I deserve this.” Ugh, that may be my least favorite phrase. It’s too easy to stop and pick something up on the way home rather than fixing something when I get home. No more.
10. No new yarn, fabric or crafting supplies. I have an extensive stash of all of those items, more than a reasonable person could use up in a year. Or five. And yet too often I succumb to sales or impulse shopping. The only exception (and I throw it out there just in case it happens because I don’t want to feel guilty about it) is if I am making something commissioned (and I don’t do that often because “have to” knitting or crafting takes some of the joy out of it) and need something specific to finish the job. I honestly don’t expect this to happen because as I noted, I do have quite an extensive stash of supplies. I also should note that that extensive supply isn’t very organized (as in, not at all) so a side goal is to organize said stash, culling out items I’m likely to never use.
This is definitely not a complete list but it’s enough to get me started. Some of these will get their own post in weeks to come. Anything major you think I might have missed?