Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The Spending Freeze
If you haven't already guessed it, I tend to lean a bit toward the frugal side of life. Not cheap mind you, but frugal. (There is a difference, trust me!) I wasn't always this way, in high school money burned through my pockets as soon as I could make it to the mall. In college I, um, well, you know that credit card that my dad gave me for emergency purposes? Yeah, I learned what 'over limit fees' were and found out quickly that my parents' idea of emergency did not include The Gap or American Eagle.
After graduating, I found myself engaged to be married to a man who was in the process of beginning a decade of post graduate schooling and training, and so we had to learn the art of budgeting very quickly! I thought I did a good job of clipping coupons and shopping the sales, but about two and a half years ago with the arrival of Mistress, I decided to try out an experiment that I had read about. We went on a month-long spending freeze. It was one of the best things we have ever done.
For one month, we did not purchase any extras. All of our regular bills (mortgage, utilities, preschool tuition, etc) were paid as usual but all the extras were slashed. We lived on a strict budget of $100 a week that had to cover all gas, groceries, diapers, and toiletries, as well as anything else that popped up. Sound like a lot? It's not. Trust me. $100 a week for a month for a family of five was tight. I learned a lot though, and my shopping habits have been changed since then. It has been proven that it takes about three weeks to learn a new habit. By doing a budget freeze for a month, I was able to effectively change my shopping habits. I stopped impulse purchases, stayed away from the dollar bins, and stopped running to the store for those last forgotten items. I went to the grocery with a strict list and went only ONCE per week. I learned to make do with what was in the house for dinner, used up the things in the cupboard, and came up with creative solutions for needs that popped up. It was a successful experiment. So successful that we decided to begin doing it annually. Make that bi-annually. Two months out of every year, we freeze the budget. It helps to solidify those good habits and cleans out the cupboards. This time, we will be setting the budget slightly higher, at $125 a week. (Our reasoning being that we now have three children to feed, as the last time MM was still nursing and now she eats like a regular three year old!) I will also allow one mid week milk and banana run, since we no longer have an extra fridge to keep the extra, and bananas are the only fruit Buggy will eat these days. Think we can do it? Keep tabs on me! I'll be posting a week by week progress! Starting tomorrow, no more extras! Goes well with Stashbusting September, right? Make sure to sign up, it starts tomorrow!!!
Posted by Ashli at 8:52 PM