budgeting

State of the budget

Well well well, just over a week in and would you look at that…

I’ve made exactly zero impulse purchases since we started this little experiment. Nada. Not so much as a latte or an “it’s only $3.99 and the library taaaaaakes so long” Kindle title.”

Amazing.

Truly, this is amazing, for I am the most entitled and undisciplined woman on the face of the earth.

Had a rough day with the kids? Pint of Ben and Jerry’s! Oh, and maybe that latest copy of Real Simple while I’m standing there in the checkout.

Can’t find something to wear? Well there’s probably something amazing on the Target clearance rack that would be the elusive keystone to my wardrobe that will unify every scrap of subpar made-in-Kackiztanz non-designer piece in my closet.

Right?

Right.

I know it’s poor form to express so much enthusiasm this early into the marathon, but I’m honestly stunned at how effective simply putting some hard and fast boundaries around my spending has been.

There was a particular day earlier this week that was just…rough. The kids were finally well enough to leave the house, but it was 11 degrees, so. Yeah. We loaded them up in the filthy winter-splatttered minivan and hightailed it to the Cherry Creek Mall (can I get a what what, locals?) for some immunity-boosting indoor play time on the soft play area.

It was heinously crowded, smelled like diapers, and was crawling with running toddlers and noses. And I wanted a Starbucks.

I even went so far as to ask Dave to grab me one on his way back from a stop into a store there, but he forgot, and I just kind of sat with the craving for a while and it just… dissipated. And then I was sitting there, latte-less, $4 richer, and feeling like I’d just summited Mt. Everest.

It’s a little thing, but the past week has been filled with lots of little things that seem like they’re going to add up to big things:

– No weird impulses in the grocery store. Just, you know, milk and bananas.

– No frantic texts at 5:19 pm begging for a rush hour pitstop at Chipotle for dinner delivery. Because meal planning! (Actually, that’s a lie. There’s no planning. It’s a motley assortment that hits the table every night; but it’s homemade!)

– No unplanned Amazon clicks resulting in unexpected visits from the UPS man at dinner time. Heh, I don’t remember even ordering that. Weird!

Stuff like that.

It’s been so good. It’s been so liberating to finally feel like we’re in that sweet spot where we’re really only spending money according to the plan we’ve made with it, using the budget as a ruler an not a sledgehammer.

And yeah, it’s early on, but we’ve already had a couple “hiccups” in the form of an ER visit and a surprisingly high dental bill, but that’s fine because those are the inevitable variables in family life…heck, in life, period. Whereas my inability to stop myself from buying 4 clearance onesies and a pack of hair bows for Evie every third day of the week because I just needed to “pick up a few things” at the Bullseye was the very opposite of inevitable. It was evitable, even. I was the problem, not our circumstances. I was causing them.

So there’s my take on it all, 8 whole days into the new year. But I’ve got a sneaking suspicion it’s going to keep being really, really good.

(Of course, I’m still living off the fat of my Up and Up diaper stash. For now. Still haven’t quite resigned my heart to the drop off at the end of the road…)

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28 Comments

  • Becky

    Good for you! It’s good to celebrate these things early on I think; it encourages us 🙂
    We’ve really tightened our purse strings here too, but 5 days into the New Year I found myself, 8 pm after a rough day, alone at Target. Total recipe for financial disaster! I did end up with a Starbucks (I swear it landed in my hand before I even realized what I’d done), and I did enjoy the quiet stroll through the store. But before I left I took stock of what was in my cart, what was on my list, and left everything else behind. It felt great!

    Keep up the good work 🙂

    • Jenny

      he’s like my illicit supplier of contraband. It’s shameful. (And though he hasn’t been around this month, my heart still pitter patters when I see the truck on our street. Sickness.

  • Kate

    Yay!!! I love these budget updates. I LOVE finances generally. Like I have multiple literature degrees, but I probably should’ve been an accountant. You inspired me to start drafting some finance posts myself…

    But I’m definitely a non-spender, so I can’t have an endearing, “come to Jesus,” how we turned our budget around narrator, and I’m afraid of coming across as pretty obnoxious. We’ll see. We’ll see.

    • Jenny

      I wouldn’t find it obnoxious! That’s why I read clean eating blogs (ha) and stuff about fitness and prayer. To, uh, be less pathetic and to be inspired by the promise of another way!

  • Ashley B

    Love these budget updates. We’re in the same boat and are full speed ahead to get as much of it paid off as we can this year. This week was rough though…my husband needed new tires and then failed his inspection and needs a $700 part to pass. Hello, goodbye emergency fund! It’s a marathon, not a sprint, right?

  • Amanda

    Congrats!

    Listen, if even going to the website is dangerous ignore me, but you can buy target diapers online. Free shipping if you buy $50 at once, and we all know how far $50 in diapers goes.

    • Jenny

      I’m honestly considering this, even though I feel like I’d be admitting defeat (a tiny bit) at not being able to stay clean and sober entirely. Ha.

  • MCH

    Nodding. Internalizing. Attempting to attempt the same.

    And SO impressed with your gumption! Congrats!

    (No Target purchases yet here, either. And Cherry Creek, what what!)

  • Katrina Rose

    Yay yay yay! That’s awesome. We are cracking down this year (okay forever), and I’m so pumped I just paid off two of my student loans TODAY. We still have mucho to pay off though, but it’s a start. Love your sidebar photo, by the way!

  • Kaitlin @ More Like Mary

    So happy to read this update! It’s so encouraging for me as we just had a “budget summit” after months of not keeping track of anything. My victory this week was taking the kids to Chik Fil A to play indoors but just splitting ONE order of waffle fries and eating lunch at home. Who knew that was even possible??

  • Jamie Gewand

    Ummm this is hitting a little too close to home…have you been stalking my life? 3.99 Kindle titles because the library takes too long…hahaha glad I’m not the only one 🙂

  • Colleen Duggan

    In May we took the Dave Ramsey course and since then have paid off our van and a credit card. We also flew to Mexico for a wedding (a second honey moon to us!) and paid cash for the entire trip. We have one more school loan to pay off and then we can move on to baby step #3. I don’t know if you’ve heard of YNAB–you need a budget–(it’s a software program with a corresponding app) but we recently discovered it and WOW! It’s similar to the hard budget copies we used in the Ramsey class but you keep it on your mobile phone. You enter your spending right at the counter and you have real time numbers of what exactly you’ve spent from your budget at any moment of any day.

    We love it and it’s finally helped us figure out a way to sock away money into our sinking funds–things like children’s activities, car repairs, birthdays, holiday extras , etc. These things happen every month but for the last twelve years we’ve behaved like we’ve never seen them coming. Using YNAB, we will have the $440 we need to put our kids on the track team in February and we won’t be stressed and scrambling when this bill comes due. Thought you might be interested in knowing about it…

    • Jenny

      Colleen I’m totally going to check that out, sounds like just what we need. Those “predictable” variable categories are what kill us every month, because we’re, uh, too stupid to sock away $20 a month for license plate renewal, etc. Thank you!

  • Ellen Johnson

    So inspiring, Jenny! We’ve been really good about some things, but we have a long way to go in other areas. Luckily for me, we don’t have a Target nearby, but we do have Amazon Prime. It’s crazy scary how easy it is to get ANYTHING, pretty much instantly. Not good for materialistic me.

  • EW

    Ugh, Starbucks. It’s like crack. I used to be addicted but “dumped Starbucks” due to their corporate-wide stance on marriage. Now, whenever I do get a sip of it, I’m disturbed by how much Starbucks coffee tastes like cigarettes. I guess my point is, dump Starbucks. And good job sticking with your resolution!!! It’s pretty inspiring, and I know you’re tough enough to stick it out.

  • Mary Wilkerson

    Something that changed my thinking was when I heard Dave Ramsey say that not impulse spending or spending what you don’t have equates to “emotional maturity”. In my case it was so true. It’s been hard for me to break from my “I want an ompaloooa and I want it now!!!!” Maturity to “is it planned for? Can I afford it and is it a wise choice?”. Being s grown up stinks sometimes but its incredibly rewarding

  • Herman Thompson

    It can be rather unnerving how unexpected costs and expenses would just jump right on you. It’s can be hard to note them, because they materialize with the very spontaneous flow of incidences and events, with those minute of disturbances that wedge in between our life activities and routines. Those are a lot of variables already, imagine when you start counting the money in the bank. So yes, a mechanism or software would be nice for that. Thanks for sharing that!

    Herman Thompson @ AccountAbility Plus

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