Labels: Challenge, Marriage, Matt, Money Smarts, Personal, Planning · Posted by Madelyne Rush at 7:43 AM
For the longest time, spending cash over card, like Dave Ramsey talks about, was not appealing. Since we use mint.com so frequently to see our transactions and categorize them, it seemed to be working. But each month, we were still spending more than we intended to in some budget categories and needed to find a way to cut it off once we met our budget. We did No Spend Month to help us understand our spending habits, so we knew this was an area in which we needed to exercise more control.
We felt the idea of a "once it's gone, it's gone" mentality would work best for us, so we decided to give cash a go. We had previously tried doing envelopes of cash for each category during the month, but that was much too hectic. We weren't comfortable carrying it all with us and kept leaving the envelopes at home when we went out and decided to eat or grab groceries. Instead, we decided to create a "flexible spending" category that combined entertainment, eating out, shopping and allowances. Basically, all the money we spend that is not set and regular like our mortgage, groceries, utilities, gas, and insurance.
We totaled up our budgets for those categories into one flexible spending budget for the month. Twice a month when we get paid, we take out half the budget in cash and split it between us.
This is our second month, and I have to say, it has worked great. Since you are forced to experience your spending more physically than when you swipe a card, it is much more psychological. You see the large amount you start with and watch every penny as it changes hands, leaving less and less in your own, and that forces you to make a decision on your priorities more frequently. Because multiple areas of spending are lumped together, it also gives you more freedom to decide what is most important. Maybe for the first half of the month you go shopping and spend a portion on a new outfit, and the second half you spend a good portion on going out with friends, or maybe you cut back everywhere else and go away for a nice weekend.
I have to say that I'm torn more often between whether to spend or save every time I'm out shopping and glance at the check-out line, but saving becomes much more rewarding. When you choose instead to save, you sometimes see the wad in your wallet and get a giddy feeling of anticipation like watching your piggy bank fill up as a kid. Matt says he has been happily anticipating when he'll have enough saved for a nice watch.
It has also been good for Matt and me because we have had combined spending since we got married. Sometimes our individual wants or needs felt like they were being judged by the other or our priorities didn't align. Having our own cash to spend in whatever way we wanted has been liberating. There is much less guilt, and it has added back a bit more romance per se. We can choose to treat each other to things again and actually buy each other dinner or take one another out for a movie.
The best part? We're not overspending, so we have a lot more to save. I can continue being okay with that. If using cash works better for you, how do you do it? I'd love to hear!
Dull and with a lot of underutilized space, Mom saw the potential for a great makeover to create a fully functional room. There was a small pantry by the door that was not being used for much, so they took it out to add cabinet space.
To decrease the loss of space and light between the laundry room and the adjoining kitchen hallway, they installed the cutest frosted glass pocket door with a laundry stencil.
Painted a soft blue with cream and light brown tile on the floor and backsplash, Mom took the old kitchen cabinets and painted them a bright white.
And then she made a printed valence for the window.
It just needs a laundry sorter like one of these in one of those lower cabinets. :) Don't you love it?! We need to finish our small, very modest laundry room makeover. This is good motivation.
Matt and I have been married for nearly five years (how did that happen?!). Somehow, we still have not gotten into a good routine of cooking our meals. This is something I think is important because it is so much healthier than eating out or eating processed/frozen. Plus it helps our budget, so I wanted to start meal planning.
- Start with 30 days worth:
- 10 meals we cook most often
- 10 new meals
- 5 nights of leftovers
- 5 nights of eating out
- On each card, we put ingredients we would need to purchase at the grocery store, but not too specific as to allow variety on the small details. For example, spaghetti: meat, pasta, sauce, rolls, vegetable. Since I don't eat all meats and Matt does, we listed "meat" on the recipe card to remind us to add it to the grocery list, but it allows us to each choose a different meat or agree on a meat we'll both eat. This variation will also allow us to be creative to find new recipes within a smaller set of parameters (it's so much easier to look for a spaghetti recipe than a "dinner" recipe...you have focus). That also means I don't have to make a recipe card for every single variation.
- Every Sunday, choose a meal for each dinner of the coming week, including any dinners out with friends or late nights at work when we'll rather eat leftovers than cook, and decide on the specifics ie. type of meat, type of vegetable.
- For the recipes you select, add its ingredients not already on-hand to the grocery list. We add extra ingredients for dinners we can bring for lunch as leftovers and anything else needed for sandwiches and salads.
- Stop by the grocery store to pick up items on the grocery list.
- Cook the pre-planned meal for dinner each night. No one asks what's for dinner, you don't have to put together a meal from the pantry on the fly, and there are less excuses not to cook or that you "don't have anything to eat."
- Repeat every week (it would also be easy to plan two weeks at a time), and use all the recipes before repeating a dinner. Add new recipes as needed.
Making the Board:
- Make a slip of paper with each recipe and its ingredients, and create ones for "eat leftovers" and "eat out"
- At Goodwill, I found this dry-erase board, which will make it easy to write down the specific variations as not to forget, some clip magnets to hold the recipe cards and a magnetic cup to hold the cards not in use.
Why we have not done this earlier, I do not know. We waste so much less because we buy only what we need, we plan to use the things that go bad quickly first, and cooking is easier and less stressful. I hope you enjoy, and maybe it will make your life easier too! For those of you that already do meal planning in some form, any tips? How do you do it?
My dear readers,
How was your summer? Ours was insanely busy but filled with fun. Since Matt has summers off, all the spare time we had together was spent enjoying music festivals, gardening, traveling, checking things off the to-do list, being with friends, and other adventures. It is the same feeling of summer I remember so fondly as a kid, and we really take full advantage of everything life has to offer for those few months. I was recently promoted and have been working like crazy (but am loving it), so I didn't get as much down time to get as far on my summer reading list as I'd wanted to. And I still have lots on my Pinterest project list that I want to do, but we did make a trip to Raleigh!
I have certainly missed you. Inspired so often in the last few months, I cannot wait to get creative again. So now that it is time to get back to real life, I plan to return to sharing my ramblings, crafty ambitions, and attempts at conquering the rush of life.
Here are just a few things to look forward to:
- DIY business card wallet tutorial (now that I actually have business cards :)
- Mom's laundry room makeover (it is so cute!)
- how we held the first annual state of our union
- details on our trip to Raleigh
- DIY baby gifts for my soon-to-be mom friends
- murder mystery party
Are you excited? I am!
P.S. If you're starting to look for inspiration for Halloween decor and parties, check out my posts on Halloween last year.
Our garden beans have sprouted from the ground and needed somewhere to grow. As I like to do, I devised a way to use what I had to make my own bean trellis. With picture frames I had been collecting from thrift stores for future craft use, a stack of vinyl blinds that my mom was going to toss out, and a bit of leftover spray paint, I think it turned out great! It's been a while since my last DIY project as life has been chock full for the last few months with never a dull moment. I am thankful to have finally had some time to get back to some of my favorite things.
- First, trim the vinyl blinds (or you could with tin snips into a chevron pattern to fit each of the various sized frames. I glued the points together with my favorite 3-in-1 craft glue (it's even waterproof!) and attached an extra piece of vinyl to the back to reinforce the joint.
- Using an upholstery stapler, staple the vinyl in place to the back of the frames.
- Then, sand and paint each frame with the chevron vinyl covered in newspaper to keep it white. (You could also sand and paint the frames before attaching the chevron pieces if you wanted---I
- After cutting the end of a six foot 2x4 into a point, drive it into place in the garden.
- Lastly, attach the frames to the 2x4. I did this by attaching teeth-like picture hanging brackets to the back of each frame and hanging them on nails on the 2x4. As reinforcement, I put additional nails in the 2x4 (not through the frames) to hold them in place.