Monday, October 5, 2009

The Plan

Have I ever told you that I have the most lovely parents a girl could ask for? When I was growing up I was never shy to announce who my mom and dad were. After saying their names I would usually add some sort of comment about how wonderful they were and whoever was listening to me would grin to hear a teenage girl talk about her mom and dad with such adoration.

My parents are still wonderful. They have done an incredible job growing with me and launching me into this world. They are still a resource for me when I'm melting down or have "how to" questions, but they have understood how to be that while letting me be my own adult and try things a different way then they have.


I love talking about my folks!

A lot of the things my parents had to say over and over again as I grew up still stick with me today. The one that leads me into my topic of discussion this morning is from my dad.

"Emily, you are fixating."

Simple as that. He would use it when I wanted something and I just HAD TO HAVE IT and would pester and cry until I got it (or got over it). Or sometimes, if I wanted him to do something for me at a very inconvenient time and was not willing to wait pleasantly he would pull it out and lay it on the table.

When Lizzie and I talk we still use it to describe ourselves sometimes. "I'm totally fixating on ... fill in the blank."

Well, I am currently fixating on redecorating my house. This is an obsession that waxes and wanes. Chalk it up to baby-nesting, or just plain need-a-change, but I can't stop thinking about projects right now.

The problem with this is that projects are expensive. Andy and I try our hardest to keep to a budget and be wise with our money. We don't always make awesome choices but we don't usually go overboard. We aren't perfect, but it is something we think about and talk about on a regular basis.

In the past few months I have been sending my dear husband very mixed messages. One day I will ask what he thinks about getting more aggressive with our savings plan and squirreling away all our extra pennies. The next day (literally) I will ask him if I can go spend $60 dollars on a house project.

That is not a clear signal I am sending.

But sweet Andy doesn't bat an eyelash (do boys bat eyelashes anyway?) and he just waits for me to settle down and figure out what I want.

And I have.

I've made a plan.

Twice a month we take cash out of the ATM for our groceries, eating out, baby needs, our personal allowance, etc. The idea is that we only spend that amount and once it is spent, we don't spend any more.

Where I get in trouble is when I want a new sweater and just use my debit card, or when I want to go out to dinner somewhere that we would blow our whole eating out budget in one go. I also get in trouble at Starbucks, but that is another matter. All those extra purchases on our debit card or those "I need a break" outings really add up and sabotage our efforts at living on a budget.

So my plan, and my commitment to Andy is this: I will not ask for anything above our allotted budget for SIX MONTHS. That means if we go through our eating out money in a week, I will not pout about having to cook all the following week. Or, if I anticipate wanting a new pair of boots, I will not think of it as an "extra" but will save up my personal allowance (instead of my frequent trips to Starbucks) to buy them.

The benefit of the plan is this: whatever money is left in each category at the time when we "refill" can be used for household projects. SO.... If I am diligent to do my grocery shopping frugally, I can use that cash for supplies to paint my furniture. Or if I make more of our meals at home, I can use the extra there to buy a new bedspread.

Make sense?

I am actually so excited about this plan. It gives me great incentive to pay more attention to how I am spending our money. Each little item (Starbucks anyone?) is now viewed in light of, "Would I rather have this cup of coffee, or put this money toward buying new curtains?" Not only does it make my dream projects a possibility, it also relieves Andy of my fickle and confusing ways.

Well, not all of them, but at least this one.

So friends, cheer me on in this endeavor. I know that old habits die hard and that my enthusiasm for watching my nickels and dimes is fresh now, but will soon be tested by a pumpkin spice latte or bright Target scarf.

I know that delayed gratification is a healthy thing. I also know six months is a long time to feel "restricted" in any area. So, this really will be a challenge, but I think I'm up for it. I'll keep you posted!


Sarah said...

Yeah, I hear you about breaking the budget on little things. Especially the trips to Starbucks. But I just go to Starbucks on Saturday morning now, it's my little treat that I get to look forward to all week. Good luck with your plan! I know it's hard.

Michelle Ferguson said...

Emily, that is a great plan! I will be cheering you on toward success :) I have LOVED being home and acquiring cute and lovely things for our home (which is currently a wonderfully large room :) I hope all of your projects turn out just the way you imagine :)