Friday, January 25, 2008

It's all about the Benjamins

Josh and I are really good about living within our means, but that has been more a function of our inexpensive taste than any smart system for tracking our spending. But I'm on a bit of a self-improvement/get-organized blitz (new baby, new year, new job), so I decided it was time to spend a little less and hold ourselves a lot more accountable. And with that in mind, Josh is helping me institute the following changes.
  • Track wants and needs over the course of a week so that we can consolidate our shopping trips and avoid running to the store every day. (The chalkboard is quickly filling up!)
  • Set up a money-management system to track income and spending. I'm using Mint, which is easy to use, web-based and free.
  • Go on a financial fast: no non-essential purchases for a month. (I got a high chair from Freecycle, score!)
Having just finished finishing our basement and powder room, I'm itching to buy the accessories necessary to complete the spaces, so this spending freeze is tough on me. But while I'm not buying (at least not yet), I am shopping around. For the best items. The best deals. And printable coupons to make them an even better bargain. Having a mandatory cooling-off period is probably going to keep me from making impulsive, less necessary purchases when the time comes to finally buy the wastebaskets and closet organizers I'm dying to get.

Once I get a handle on the spending, my plan is to squirrel away one-half to two-thirds of the "saved" money into our savings account for practical expenditures (car and home repairs, for example) and the remainder into a fun money slush fund that we can use to reward ourselves for being thrifty.