When I picture an ideal day in my future, there is a whole lot that is no different from today. The important parts don’t change. We spend our time together exploring and adventuring, having fun, with Cameron (and me too) learning things on the go by experience and play. We’re happy. He goes to school and has close friends there, as well as having friends outside of school, and I go to work to a place that challenges me, keeps things interesting, has me in a management position within biosciences, health, research … something up my alley like that. In my ‘other’ time I write, perhaps for a magazine. Oh, and of course my blog is busy with traffic. Ahem. Anyway. Other things have changed a little – some I have little control over at this time, such as being in a good, healthy long-term relationship with a supportive and loving partner. But some are little everyday things, like having a dishwasher, maybe a housecleaner once every couple of weeks comes in, having nice bedroom furniture that is usable (right now I don’t have a head- or foot-board, and two of the dresser’s drawers won’t open without a fight), having a car, owning a home, money saved for retirement.
Those last things? They take money. There is no reason that I cannot be saving money, at least a little, every month. No reason.
And yet, when I sat down last week to look at my previous month’s money I got a little shock. I spent, and this is not counting the money I put towards my (relatively small) credit card debt, two hundred more dollars than I brought in. This was probably better than it could have been, given that for a few days of that time Dad was here, and he packed my lunch for me and bought groceries and took us out for supper.
The good news is that I did already know that I was not behaving as though I was on a budget. I expected bad. Not this bad, but still, bad.
More good news? I can easily identify areas where I can improve.
- I spend nearly $85 on cable and internet each month. Do I watch TV? Nope. Not at all. I think I’ve had the television on twice since Christmas, not counting Cameron’s DVDs. So tomorrow, I have decided, I will cut cable. Internet will be $45, and if I switch from Shaw to Telus I’ll save even more, though it’ll be a hassle.
- Coffee. I’d been buying at least one latte a day. This is insane. I don’t need it! Coffee is just fine. Yes, I could cut even more and not buy coffee, just bring it, but … I like our morning ritual. The coffee shop has your typical reward system in place. Buy a $20 coffee card and you get a free drink of your choice. Every eight or something coffees you get a free drink of your choice – and sometimes they include Cameron’s hot chocolate in that tally. So I’ll still be able to have a treat lattee once a week on average I think, and save maybe ten or so bucks a week.
- Eating out. Ohdear. I’d been purchasing nearly every lunch on campus, often at the cafeteria at work. That’s eight to ten bucks a day on lunches alone.
- I have an awful habit. Okay, several. But the one I mean is that I buy more food than we eat. Another grocery shopping ‘sin’ is that I buy whatever I feel like eating, not necessarily what is on sale. So if I focus on eating leftovers, not letting things go bad in the fridge, and buying sale items … I should in theory be able to save some.
Okay, this is all fine in theory. But how did I do this last week?
- I bought wine only once, not my month-average of twice a week.
- I brought my lunch three work days, bought twice. Oops. Still, an improvement.
- I had two free lattes, and had coffee the other days.
- Meals carefully planned for this week, alternating chicken and salmon. Eating leftovers.
- Groceries were a bit pricey. I didn’t look for sales, and had a couple of expensive impulse purchases. I’ll do better next week. I have to allow myself some treats, but this doesn’t have to be overboard.
In all, I did cut my week’s spending with respect to my average from that month by around $75. It’s still high, but seventy five is nothing to sneeze at.
Stay tuned … next week we ‘ll see how the days went for my bank card. Did it have adventures? Or stay tucked away in my wallet? Come back and cheer me on, I could use a few rah-rah-rahs here! And maybe share with my your best tips for cutting spending habits.
(oh – I know, I know, using my bank card does nothing for my credit rating. But I want to get my credit debt down to zero before I start doing that. Reasonable goal? Within five months, assuming that instead of putting what I save into the bank for now, I pay off that debt)