Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spending Diet Update

Were you aware that you start spending money the minute you get up?  This is something I've been thinking about over the past five days, as I've struggled for control of my outrageous, impulsive spending.  As the water runs in the shower, I think, "How long have I been in here and how big is our water bill again?"  As I walked past Joey's empty bedroom this morning, I reflexively turned off the light as I thought, "Does that kid think we're made of money?  If you leave the room, turn the light off!"  Electric bill.  I've left the thermostat at 68 degrees, even though to me, that's kind of arctic cold.  I spent the whole week buried under a blanket and trying to warm my fingers around cups of hot chocolate.

Money goes out no matter how hard you try not to spend it.  But you can save in little ways, even as you are saving in the big ways by not buying the things on your "wants" list.  So I am trying to shorten my showers, turn off lights in rooms no one is in, make sure the washer is full (clothes and dishes) before I run it, keep the thermostat set a little lower than I find comfortable.

It's the bigger things that are tougher.  I'm choosing to look at this diet as more of a "challenge" than a "diet."  How can I get around spending money for this thing or that thing that I want?  Here's the update on my astounding success over the last five days and I can proudly say that I don't have to admit that I messed up even once.  Okay, I know, it's five days.  But still.  It's five days!

Here's where I have not spent money since Monday.  It's money I would absolutely have spent before finding the spending fast on Anna Newell's website And Then She Saved.

1.  I have not asked Justin to pick up dinner even once this week.  I have been more cognizant every morning that we need to figure out what we're going to do for dinner because, inevitably, dinnertime always comes, just like death and taxes.  I was tempted twice - the very first night I wanted Chipotle.  We made mexican food at home - savings @ $20. 

2.  Today, Justin went down to visit his grandmother in the hospital and won't be back until late afternoon.  He's going to be tired and have no interest in cooking. (In case you've been under a rock, Justin is the chef in our family.  I can't boil water.)  Almost always when he would take this trip, I would say, "Oh, let's just order something.  I don't want to think about it."  I actually anticipated this yesterday and asked him if we had any of his homemade BBQ sauce and maybe a roast in the freezer we could do in the crock pot.  If I hadn't thought about this beforehand, we probably would have ordered pizza tonight - @ $40 (maybe $30 if we'd been trying to be thrifty and kept it to two pizzas).

3.  On Wednesday, I finished the enormous Ken Follett book I had downloaded on my Kindle - Fall of Giants.  A great book, by the way, if you like history.  Uh oh.  I have one more unread Kindle download and then it's the free classics and I am in way more of a Nora Roberts mood right now than a Charles Dickens mood.  Normally, my immediate response to this "dilemma" would have been to go onto the Kindle website and download something that caught my fancy.  I had also been wanting a copy of The Good Earth for some reason.  There is no Kindle version of this book, so, before the spending diet, typically I would have run over to Borders and bought it or gone to Amazon.com and ordered it. 

Instead, I went onto our library website and found The Good Earth was on their shelf, available immediately.  I uncharacteristically jumped into my car and drove to the library (praying I didn't accidentally hit anything, thereby costing us money).  Not only did I find The Good Earth on the shelf (savings @$7), I also peeked around the corner of the shelves and found not one, but two Emily Giffin books I had not yet read.  These are books that I would absolutely have downloaded on the Kindle, so by getting them at the library, I saved @$23 in dowload fees.  (I won't count the 25 cents I saved by parking illegally at the library because I really didn't mean to park illegally and it could have cost me a parking ticket.)

4.  On the way home from the library, I had to stop at the grocery store to pick up a couple of items for our homemade dinner.  Have you ever noticed how they put the tabloids right up at the checkout, just to tempt you?  I am a People magazine fanatic and the whole Halle Barry child custody thing had exploded last week.  Normally, I would have just picked it up and thrown it into my basket.  This time, I resisted the urge, knowing that I could read about Halle Barry for free on the internet.  Savings:  $2.99?  What does People cost?  I should know this, since I buy it so often.

5.  Thursday, I knew I was going to have to spend money and I wasn't happy about it.  Stopping impulsive spending is not like stopping doing drugs or drinking.  You can't just not spend money, ever.  Thursday is the day the cleaning woman comes and I had to pay her.  If you didn't read it in the previous post, I have determined this to be an expense I am not willing to give up because of my fibro, but writing that check hurt a little bit.  I also had to go to the store or the dog was going to be going hungry.  Of course, my pets can't eat Purina from the grocery store.  Oh no.  They need the designer food from the pet store.  But, Justin discovered that we can save money if we get the food from Tractor Supply Company, a rather scary store where rough types go to buy farming supplies.  A place I was pretty afraid to go to.  I sucked it up and went over to Tractor Supply Company and bought 33 pounds of Hill's Science Diet puppy food for Jackson.  I spent $2.64 less than I would have spent across the street at Petco.  A Very. Small. Victory.  But these things add up.

Are you keeping track?  I sure am.  Here's the total savings in the first five days of my spending diet:

Chipotle - @$20
People Magazine - $2.99
The Good Earth - $6.99
Latest Two Emily Giffin Books - $22.98
Dog Food - $2.64
Pizza Delivery - @$40

Oh. My. God.  I didn't spend $95.60 in five days.  And that doesn't include finding both peanut butter and peanuts on sale at the grocery store because I'm not sure how much I saved by buying them this week instead of letting Justin pick them up on Sunday after they go off sale.  But I'm pretty sure it would have topped me out at over $100 for just the first week.

I am looking forward to saving more money.  This week I intend to not get my hair cut and permed - at least $100. 

I won't order replacements for the slippers that are, pretty much, shot - $50?  I need new slippers.  I wear them every day.  This is a dilemma.  You can shoot ideas on how to solve this problem without spending my way and they would be greatly appreciated.

I'm actually feeling pretty inspired about this not spending thing.  I got mad at Joey when he told me yesterday that he had "lost" his gym shorts "a long time ago."  I am putting a rule into place:  If you break it or lose it, you pay for it.  I'll let him slide on the gym shorts, this time.  But next time, it's coming out of his allowance.  I certainly am not going to buy things twice.  Especially things like gym shorts.

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