Thursday, February 16, 2012

Budgeting With Kids

Most of you probably are aware that I have recently put myself on a spending challenge. I have decided that I will not add to our credit card debt except for things like groceries and gas, which will be paid for at the end of the month.

This was the result of a non-stop spending spree that happened after Christmas. Because I have trouble with impulse control, I got started shopping and then, because I was just using credit cards and the internet, I didn't exercise any restraint and kept spending.

I started posting my challenge days on Facebook, saying that I was trying to see how many days I could go without adding to our debt. Last check was I think day 31, but I got my credit card statement (one of them) yesterday and saw that the last charge before the spending challenge started was on January 19th, so apparently, I was counting wrong. Big surprise there with my math skills (or lack thereof).

Anyway, I've been doing really well ever since I decided to challenge myself every single day when I got up in the morning that for just that day I would not charge anything on the credit card except for prescriptions, groceries, and gas. (If you're wondering why I'm not using a debit card so that it comes right out of the checking account, it's because our bank now wants to charge us a fee for use of the debit card and I'm not willing to pay it. Plus, it makes it easier to balance the checkbook when all of the items we've bought are on one bill every month.)

I held myself accountable when I had to buy needed chose to buy cookies and bottled water at the airport in Charlotte when my plane got delayed due to mechanical difficulties. I think a person with severe anxiety and a fear of flying is entitled to cookies when they realize the plane they were supposed to fly on maybe had a fuel leak (although it turned out that they probably just spilled some fuel on the runway, but still). I had texted Justin that I really wanted cookies and was having a panic attack and he texted back and said charge the cookies, for God's sake!

So here it February 16th and I have been really, really good. I think any statement that comes in the mail will not have anymore charges from me from the last month.

Except for a couple of things that really were out of my control. Because they involved my kids. My middle kid, specifically.

What do you do when the thing that your kid wants to buy is only available through an online store and they have the money to buy it but you don't want to put it on your credit card? You take their cash and charge it. And then the cash gets spent and you have a charge on your credit card. Which is exactly what happened to me yesterday when Jamie wanted to buy some kind of laser to fix his Playstation because it's not playing games correctly.

I've learned to dread the question, "Can I check something on Amazon?" because it always means I will be clicking on the "one-click" buying option to get him something he's saved his money for. I love having his cash, but I have to get a system in place to pay the credit card charge before I spend the cash. The bank is out of the way and we don't get there that often, so having a little extra cash comes in handy.

Plus, I'm going to admit that I put the cash he gave me into my little stash. There, I said it. I should have taken it downstairs to the family cash drawer but I didn't. (Sorry, Justin. I promise I'm going to pay that charge!) I've been holding myself to spending cash only when I go out and my little nest egg had gotten somewhat smaller with my trips to Hobby Lobby. (Hobby Lobby is my new crack. I want a $200 Ott light with magnifier for my sewing and a $200 wooden chest to store my sewing materials, but so far, I've been able to restrain myself.)

The Ott light is looking really good because we lost one of the floor lamps to old age in our family room and my eyes, being almost 48 years old, have a little bit of trouble getting the stitches into the right holes on the little tiny holed fabric I am using for these Christmas ornaments I'm making. I'm doing a lot of unsewing and am frustrated because I know that if I just had proper lighting, I would spend more time putting stitches in than taking them out.

But I digress.

Here's my question. If you've made a pact with yourself to not use your credit cards and then the kid brings you cash and asks you to order something for him, what do you do? Maybe I should look into one of those prepaid Visa cards for him. He could give me cash and I could load it up and he could do his own ordering. Come to think of it, that isn't a very bad idea. I got one in the mail the other day and held onto it just to see how it works. It's not a credit card and I don't think there are any debit fees attached to it. It might be a good thing for when Ben goes off to school too, because we can just transfer money onto it for him when he's running low and needs Ramen noodles.

Anyway, I have no idea what day I am on, but today is a no spending day for me. (I suspect Justin is going to offer to run over and pick up my prescriptions for me, so that doesn't count as me spending, even though all of the drugs are for me.) It's rainy and I'm going to spend the time working on a new section of information about Malea's treatment and making up a couple (hopefully) ornaments, because I just got an email saying my finishing forms are on their way. I think I know what I did wrong on the first prototype and am anxious to try again. I am hoping not to ruin anything else that I've put hours into sewing.

Just an FYI - raffle tickets are still for sale for $10 for Save Malea. If you are interested in winning one of the prizes, please contact me at the email listed on the left side of this page.


  1. The pre-paid visa card sounds like a good idea. My daughter asks to use my credit card also and gives me the cash, which I spend. Last night she wanted to use my credit card to buy some concert tickets. We have a joint credit card that I only use for groceries and medications and doctors" bills, so I got her to ask her father to use that one and pay him the money. He won't spend it and then it's not on my 2 personal credit cards. I'm giving up Avon as I charge the total bill and then spend the cash that I receive from customers on other things. Just today I spent some Avon cash on craft stuff! I have 1 more order to fulfill then I'll no longer be a rep, and hopefully won't spend as much money!

  2. When Justin pays, it's not my spending. Heehee. Good strategy.

    I think quitting the Avon rep thing is really for the best if you are spending the cash you get to pay for the orders. That removes the temptation.

    Getting this charging thing under control is MUCH harder than it should be. There are things I WANT, damn it!


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