A Trip or a House?

I’m back… I’ve been so busy with the myriad things that life has thrown my way. I’ve been working four days doing reception and then on weekends I work at the grocery store. Add on top of that Mary Kay and fitting in time to hang out with Brian and plan our wedding… sigh. If only there were more hours in the day!

Brian and I have been talking about where we are planning to move after the wedding and figuring out finances and jobs, etc… we decided to drive over to these apartments in Jackson that we looked at online since we were on our way back from West Bend. It just set in for me that I get to live with Brian in just a few months and he will be there when I wake up and when I go to sleep and it just gives me peace. I won’t have to give up a day of productivity to spend all day with him, we can plan things together and I won’t have to waste gasoline going to and from his house.

But then, while we were driving in Menomonee Falls, he looked at me and said “what if we bought a house?” I was beyond shocked and elated. This wonderful man that I’m going to marry wants to buy a house with me! My mind was going a million miles an hour and I kept thinking about how wonderful it would be, but also how much responsibility it would entail. I’m not afraid of certain responsibilities, but it kind of scares me about general repairs and maintenance like if we don’t like how certain things in the house look, renovations take a lot of time, money, and skill. But on the other hand, wouldn’t it be so lovely to be able to set everything up how we want things for a good five plus years? We can paint things, modify things, and not have to worry about how many holes we make when we hang up photos… it will just be ours.

But how are we going to save all that money for the down payment? We considered forgoing the honeymoon in San Francisco and use that money toward a house, but still it’s a lot. We already are repaying our student loans and Brian has his car payment and I need a car that isn’t my parents’…. there are just a lot of dang bills.

November for me is my no- or low-spend month. This wasn’t planned to coincide with the possible house that we have to save for, but I’m glad I started doing this before we even talked about the house. This challenge was inspired by me looking at how much I spent in October and being outright horrified! It was more than I was bringing in and it just needed to stop. I hated not having money in my bank account or having over drawn fees and worrying about if my card will go through or not. It was just an awful feeling looking at my account online.

After looking at various blogs from stay at home moms and other budget-concious women who shared their tips, I wondered why I can’t implement some of their strategies. I loved to shop, especially at Target… and I knew this was one of my triggers that makes me lose control of my spending. I’ve been dealing with this by not looking at the sales fliers which make me want to go in and get whatever I think I need and also by just staying away from Target. This has been very effective… I haven’t spent a dime at Target since October! Now the plan is to knock down the rest of my balance on my Target RedCard. One of the strategies of these penny pinchers was to not have any credit cards and if you do, get rid of the smallest balances first so you don’t have to worry about them and then you can focus on your largest debt more aggressively.

Another thing I started doing is using cash envelopes. Because I’m using actual money instead of my debit card, it is a more visual spending when the money leaves the envelope. I rationed out $150 for the month of November into separate envelopes: $50 for restaurants and eating out, $40 for random groceries and food (since I live at home I don’t have a large grocery bill, but somehow I still buy quite a bit at the grocery store… I blame it on working at one.), $30 for clothes (I’m hoping not to use that one, but just in case), $20 for beauty products (mostly hair dye or for a hair cut, but this would include nail polish and the like), and $10 for entertainment (this would include movie rentals or tickets).

After the money in the envelopes is gone for the month, that’s it. No refills and no using my card. The one thing that I use my card for is at the gas station. It’s something that I am going to revisit at the end of the month to see how it’s working. I mostly just drive 15 minutes to my reception job four times a week and then Sentry is less than five minutes from my house. I also drive 20 minutes to Brian’s house and 10 minutes to Mary Kay. I used to go see my friend in Milwaukee once a week, but that is such an incredible gas-sucker, so I know I’ll have to cut back on that. All of my credit card bills, student loans, and rent I can pay online or by check.

Well, I do have more updates on life and the wedding, but I will let that settle first. Do you have any budgeting tips? What do you do to save money for big (or small) things?

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