I’ve got my mind on my money and money on my mind. Please let me tell you how much money is on my mind. Here’s the thing- I’m broke. Sad, but true. I’d say shameful, but I’m trying not to go down that path of self-flagellation and regret, so, we’ll just leave it at broke.
I was going through the numbers today and I have to admit that as I was driving to pick my daughter up from school that I was fending off a panic attack.
(Semi amusing side note, a late bill phone call came through as I’m writing this post.)
I knew that this year of school and working just under full time was going to be tough. Honestly, I’m a little surprised that I held on as long as I did, but somehow it seemed like every time I thought I couldn’t make it to the next paycheck, something would happen and I’d be able to straighten back out again.
I sat down over the summer and looked at reevaluating my work schedule so that I could be home to pick Ana up from school every day and eliminate the cost of daycare. This was discussed with my boss and planned and made reality. I knew I only had a few months left until I had no more daycare checks and so I would start having an extra significant amount of money. I was elated. I would FINALLY be only poor instead of flat-ass broke.
The problem was the 2-3 months prior to those savings. I got sunk. The extra cash flow just never came through and I found myself digging a deep hole. I hate to even admit this, but I was taking out double payday loans just to get the bills paid.
Now, we’re 2 months daycare free and for the first time in the last year, I’m missing bill payments because the money isn’t there to pay them with. My stress level regarding money is through the roof.
It was in this mindset, that I stumbled across a post an old friend posted yesterday about No Spending November. The timing could have not been more perfect. What better time is there to go on a spending freeze than when I desperately need to pull my financial situation together for the sake of survival and staying afloat?
So. Without further ado, here are my rules:
-No eating out. If I forget my lunch, too bad, I can eat when I get home. Breakfast is going to be my biggest struggle here as I often stop at the grocery store or fast food for breakfast. Just eliminating doing this can save me anywhere from $100 to $300 this month not even counting the other meals that I eat out. Looking back through my bank account, I spent just over $200 on restaurants in October. So, I have the potential to save $500 JUST FROM NOT EATING OUT.
-No entertainment. Which is not to say that I can’t be entertained throughout the month. As I type this, I recall that I have already committed to one movie date this month, so I will keep that date, but there will be no popcorn or candy or soda – simply the movie ticket and nothing else. I have plenty of movies at home, I have TV shows that I’d like to catch up on, I have books to read and, most importantly, I have homework to do. I do not need to be spending money on going out.
-If I’ve read my calendar correctly, I only have 1 gift buying occasion this month and that’s for a kid so that gift will still be purchased, but it will be inexpensive and supplemented with goodies from my go-to gift bag (I keep a bag of inexpensive/clearance toys and items I find throughout the year for in-a-pinch gifts). Anything else can wait until December (and let me tell you that Christmas shopping this year will be minimal, even after the spending freeze has ended).
-The biggest challenge of this spending freeze is going to be groceries. My aim is to buy nothing more than some fresh fruits and veggies, bread, milk, and eggs for the month of November. I believe that I have sufficient food in my cupboard and freezer to cover for the month. If, near the end of the month, I need to supplement to complete meals, I will do so, but I don’t think this will be necessary.
This is going to be really hard. Technically, I’ve already spent this month because I hit up the grocery store this morning, but going forward, there will be no more spending. I have to do something to turn this around. I am better than this and I can fix my own mess. I don’t doubt that I will struggle. I am sure that someone is going to ask me to do something and I am going to want to say yes. I am sure that I am going to have a day or many where things just keep going sideways and I will want nothing more than to hit up a drive through instead of going home to cook. But I will never get out of this hole if I can’t put a stop to it.
So spending freeze. Ready set go. And thanks to life all around for the timely idea.
EDITED TO ADD: I am going way for Thanksgiving, so do need to account for extra gas and the potential for eating out during those 2 days, but that will be kept to a minimum. I will be skipping Black Friday shopping this year.
Additionally, I will also be cancelling my gym membership as school and getting my finances in order are a priority. This will save me another small chunk of change each month.