Eating our oil change
In these tight economic times, my husband and I decided to scale back our spending -- way back. Each month for the past two years since we married, we have created a liveable budget -- but, we have yet to live within its boundaries. For one reason or another -- usually lack of self control -- we always overspend.
Determined that October 2008 would be the first time we actually stuck to our budget, we decided to skip the debit card (except for paying for gas at the pump) and use the old-fashioned method of cash and envelopes. We carefully budgeted our groceries, miscellaneous spending money, lunch money, etc. On the first payday of the month, we took out cash for a half month's allowance. I labeled each envelope with the amount and tucked the cash away, certain we were going to succeed.
Grocery shopping with cash was tense, but we tagged-teamed it with a calculator so we weren't sweating and praying at the checkout counter. We spent some entertainment money on the kids, but there were no surprises. I decided this cash thing was great. No fear or anxiety, and it's so much easier to not spend when you see it leaving your hand.
Nine days into the plan, I was feeling pretty good about the cash left in the envelope for miscellaneous spending, so I suggested to my husband that we eat out. He agreed. Halfway through lunch though, I realized I still hadn't gotten the oil changed in my car, and the bill plus tip had consumed the rest of our cash.
We had eaten our oil change. And it wasn't even very good!
I'm comforted by the fact that we have won a few victories to offset this little defeat. Also, the month's not over yet. Like teenagers, we have to wait for our next cash infusion, but maybe we will pull this off in the last half of October.
If only we'd learned money management as teenagers, we might not be acting like ones in middle-age.
-- Ericka Watson, Times mom