Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pinch those Pennies!

I realized yesterday that there are only four paychecks left until Christmas.  Am I prepared?  HAHAHAHAHAAHA!  NOPE!  I suppose I am not overly behind considering I only really shop for two people, one of them is 2 and has no idea yet what Christmas really is and has no expectations.  The other is my 17 year old, who is doing much better but is not overly deserving of much this year.  Maybe someday I will clue my blog world in on the girl child a little more.  I will get the hubby a little something.  Our moms, my sister in law and aunt are pretty easy gifts, but do involve a fair amount of preparation, not so much money, thankfully.

I have been trying to save money.  It just does not come natural to me, ha!  If I have money, I can feel it burning a hole in my pocket.  It just needs to be spent.  I typically have nothing to show for it.  :(  This needs to stop.

As of last Friday, I am officially contributing to the 401k at my job.  Not joining sooner is one of the dumbest financial decisions of my life.  Just dumb.  My job actually matches 75%.  So for every $1.00 they are putting in .75.  Every $100.00 I contribute they are putting in $75.00.  FREE MONEY!  And here I was just letting it get away.  I have also been at this company for a decade... Yep, just letting this free money get away.  The only reason I hadn't enrolled before was because I was afraid of having less money in my paycheck.  I felt I could not afford it.  But seriously, how can I AFFORD not to??!!  I am only contributing 3% of my pay for the time being and it's pre-tax.  3% less to work with for budget is not going to kill me.  Just wish I smartened up much much sooner.

I also have no emergency fund.  NOTHING!  My car needed some repairs last week and I had to make arrangements to pay another bill late in order to swing the repair bill.  I am tired of living like that.  I have two savings accounts but I spend whatever I save usually before my next paycheck even rolls around.  My goal is to save 6 months worth of living expenses.  Thankfully we have not been in a position where that has been necessary, but I would hate to not be prepared in the event it ever did.  Someone suggested to me to open a savings account at a bank that would be inconvenient to withdraw money from.  So outside of my normal bank.  So I opened an account with ING.  I chose ING because they have a higher interest rate, there is no ATM or Debit card, there is no branch for me to go in to withdraw funds and it was quick and easy to set up my account right online.  ING's interest rate on savings is 6.5% for 3 months and then drops to 5%. Still significantly higher than my piddly Bank of America rate of 0.05%.  And just an FYI, in case you haven't heard yet, BOA will be charging customer's a $5.00 monthly fee if you use your debit card to make online purchases, starting next year.  Yeah, they will be charging you to spend your own damn money.  I will admit that I like the convenience of BOA, it is world wide...but who the hell am I kidding...I don't travel, hahaah!  I frequent the same one or two BOA ATM's, either close to home or close to work.  Over the next couple of months I will be working on closing my accounts with them.  I'll be damned if you will be charging me to spend MY money.  Less access to my money will be a good thing.   I have other money oriented goals that I will talk about below so I won't be able to save as much as I would like right off the bat.  But SOME savings is better than NO savings.

Seeing little numbers really does nothing for me.  Like telling me that I could be saving $3.00 a day if I didn't go to Dunk'ns and buy a coffee every morning (which I don't do...just an example).  But when I see how much that adds up to over time, that definitely jolts me.  $3.00 on coffee 7 days a week is $21.00, approximately $90.00 a month, $1,095.00 a year, $21,915.00 over 20 years.

Check these numbers out: (I apologize for the small print, I couldn't get the sizing of my screen print right.  It was either huge and across the whole computer screen or this, so put your spectacles on.)

Crazy, right!?!  Those big numbers definitely do something for me, haha!  A lot of the items on that list don't pertain to me.  I'd say my biggest problem and unneeded expense is impulse buys.  I absolutely know the difference between a want and a need.  My problem is simply lacking the self discipline to curb my spending on "wants".

I really evaluated my spending and determined that I never REALLY buy anything for myself.  I don't buy clothes unless I NEED them and that is simply because I refuse to buy any more fat clothes.  When I lose all my weight I will have to keep myself in check.  I have issues with shoes since my injury and have to be very particular about what I wear on my feet.  So I don't buy shoes hardly ever.  Purses and extravagant jewelry are not really my thing.   I love my handmade earrings and I bought 11 pairs for under $30.00 on eBay, they will last me years and I have a pair to match every outfit I conjure up.  I have two signature pieces of jewelry that I wear all the time - well one, since my son lost my necklace behind my bed and I have not located it yet.  I don't care for perfumes since I my nose is very sensitive and the alcohol smell in all spray perfumes is overpowering to me.  I honestly spend $4.00 for my roll on bottle of Egyptian Musk oil and it lasts me months.  I get more compliments on the way I smell than I know what to do with, ha!

I have determined that my "problem spending" goes toward household items. ie: prettying up the bathroom, a new area rug for the kitchen, shelving, painting and wallpapering (again), pretty much making our rented apartment that we are not really happy in, more likable.  It dawned on me last weekend (while dropping cash in Lowe's) that if I didn't spend this money right now and drove straight to the bank and deposited it, that could be money saved toward a deposit on our OWN home.  But I spent anyway.  I know it might sound stupid, but I often think that this measly $60.00 is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  How is that little bit of money going to make me reach my goal of THOUSANDS towards a deposit on a house??!!  Just reading what I wrote I want to slap myself in the face!  I told you I have issues spending.  I have an excuse for everything, haha!

I also spend money on crafting supplies for crafts (which are being given or sold to someone else), I need to come up with a good formula for pricing my crafts.  I always end up coming out of pocket and cutting myself short.

I do spend money on toys for the little guy.  Not so much quantity but the items I choose to buy him are typically electronic and more expensive.  Which I do not regret.  One of these items is the Fisher-Price IXL, which in my opinion is one of the greatest inventions in children's educational toys. It has been a life saver on many occasions in our home and on the road.  My son LOVES it and has learned many many things using it.. (I just now decided to do a product review on it at a later date.)

On top of rent and your everyday bills, I do have credit card debt and a car note that I want to pay off. My debt is not astronomical at all, but it is debt just the same.  I tell myself all the time how broke I am (which is generally true) because I have spent my "extra" money on wants.  I have decided that I need to pay more money towards all of my credit card and car note.  Just making the minimum payment is going to take me forever to pay them off.  This is not ground breaking news for me.  I am quite aware that you pay a ton of money in interest the longer it takes you to pay off your debt.  It is just now - all of the sudden - hitting me how stupid I am being and I need to make changes immediately.  It would be one thing if I seriously didn't have a few extra bucks to throw on these accounts each month, but that is not my case.  I don't have a lot of extra money, but what I have been spending on nonsense, I will now be putting toward decreasing my debt more expeditiously (I like that word) and some money towards savings. 

I still plan on living.  I will still enjoy a nice bottle of wine, I will still eat healthy foods that unfortunately tend to cost more money, I will still treat my rugrats to nice things when they are deserving of it.  But these treats will need to be budgeted.  I have been eating very healthy for the past couple months and have lost close to 10 pounds, I have been getting more exercise in over the past week and I feel good.  If I can stick to my diet and exercise plan, I can stick to a financial makeover.  I know I can do it, although it will be a shock to my system.  It will take time to adapt, I know it will be hard but this much needed overhaul is what I need in  my life in order to get to where I need to be.

If anyone has any other money saving tips please share with me.

Wish me luck, People!  

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