Deep Freeze

Happy January 1, 2013 ….

Who is up for a challenge?

I don’t know if it could be considered FUN, but it will be a challenge.

A “Deep Freeze” on spending.  I am thinking no extraneous spending for the month of January.

I don’t think a cash only system is necessary,Money (you know yourself) but a list of questions that should be asked before any spending:

  • DO I NEED IT? (why??)
  • CAN I USE SOMETHING ELSE?
  • CAN I BORROW IT?
  • CAN I WAIT TILL FEBRAURY 1? (It’s a “It doesn’t make sense to put off buying seats at the theatre if they are cheaper if you buy them earlier or they sell out”  kind of question)
  • DO I NEED IT???(yes, again.)

I am not advocating paying on the minimum on your credit card kind of freeze, but a freeze on acquiring new things/saving money challenge.

Food— Minimal amounts of money to be spent. 

  • I do not have access to either a cow or a deep freezer/extra fridge, so I can’t run out this weekend and load up on whole milk for when Layla visits.
  • But I CAN look in the freezer and cabinets and identify the minimal amount of meats and vegetables required to utilize a clean out of the pantry kind of menu, and go to the grocery store for those items.
  • Lunch for work packed from home.

Gas— Well, if I am not driving over hill and dale to hit up sales at stores I don’t need to be in, I should be able to spend a smaller amount?  Go to Gas Buddy and check out the daily gas rates, but it doesn’t make sense to DRIVE for a penny less, either, unless it works out that I am heading that way.

What else is there, anyway?  Obviously, all bills will be paid —utilities, etc. And I never pay minimums on credit cards, so that would stay the same.

Gifts, entertainment, toys—

  • Buying a gift for a birthday IN January makes sense, talking myself into stockpiling for all the gifts needed and Christmas 2013 is out.
  • Thread to finish a project I am in the middle of, yes….Acquisition for the stash, out.
  • Movies and the rest—sensible expenditures. I have already made a date with my daughter to see Les Mis this afternoon, so….
  • A drink or snack at the cash register …how far away from where I am going AM I anyway?

But I WANT (NEED) IT—

  • Adding these items to the list of things I DID buy/spend money on….have a wish list column of “I can’t live without it today but TOTALLY don’t need it”…along with the cost and location of purchase, and revisit the list on February 1.

It’s not a “how much you SAVED using coupons to grocery shop” kind of challenge—Because I can SAVE a lot of money if I hit up all those awesome sales, but was it money I needed to SPEND??  Couponing seems to make one more likely to spend, so they can SAVE so much…and the items—well, how much toothpaste and hair color can one USE??

I will do this with a list on my iPhone. All monies spent and where they went. (Can not buy an app to do so!! Not a NEED!) There isn’t a dollar amount I can assign to myself to spend per day or week or month— or to you. I don’t know your needs.

I will succeed in this challenge if I am made more aware of my spending habits, and so will you.!

Let me know if you are joining in, and keep us posted on how you feel you are doing!

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Really cool stuff…

…Well, to me, anyhow!!!  If I continue paying down my credit cards at the rate I am going now, I will be 100% free of them by October 2010. That’s exactly ONE year from now.

Possible? Yes. Probable? Not really. After all, I DO still use them, but I use them far more carefully and much more as a convenience than I did in the past, when they were actually part of my budgeting.

That’s the nasty truth of being a single parent who received little to no child support for 18 years in a city with the expenses of New York.

Nowadays, I make a bit more, live in a less expense location, and have my husband’s income as well, which obviously makes a difference in the headway of my finances.

I have always had a good credit rating, and that is mine and mine alone. Which explains how even in this day and age, I am able to still manipulate my balances and move them around to get the lowest interest rates possible. It’s a bit like a shell game, but I am finally on the right side of the overturned cardboard box!

As I DO use the cards still, I fully expect to have a balance next year at this time. And I am ok with that, really. I pay something along the lines of 5-7 times my minimum each month. I can cut back to the bare minimums on the cards and try to live entirely cash, (and some have an interest rate) or I can continue to move balances to 0% cards I already own and have $0 balances on (Somehow the CC companies haven’t noticed—Shhhh!)

I am interested in how it all falls out as the regulations supposedly change in favor of us, the consumer, over the next 6-8 months.  None of my cards have told me my rates were going up, (except one, and it was a date nine months from the receipt, and I currently owe them $270, so by next month that threat is useless to me) and none have cut my limits back. (Which totals somewhere over twice my annual salary! Craziness, indeed.)

I know there are things I could be doing differently at this very moment in order to speed up the process. I could look more seriously into Dave Ramsey, I could re-read some Tightwad Gazettes, or Your Money or Your Life. Sell more of my photographs.

Shop yard sales, or just stop shopping, quit vacations, no more dinners out (that’s on Timmy’s card, however)… there are a gazillion things we together could cut back on…. but his cards, his bills are separate. And I can not make those decisions alone.

But, once I have eliminated these beasts of burden from my back, I can begin to assist him more fully in the pursuit of his own freedom.

One step at a time. Beginning with Christmas.

Christmas is going to be spare, it’s going to be sparse, and it’s going to be about people. Not about things, but about emotion, connection, and loving thoughts. (I hope. That’s my plan. 🙂 )

I can’t be Scrooge, however!! How do YOU plan to make Christmas a less ‘object driven’ pursuit this year? I’m interested in hearing about all sorts of ideas!! (successful ones, especially!!!)