Thursday, August 6, 2015

Spending Freeze - What we did and How we "survived"

Darryl and I put ourselves on a self-imposed spending freeze somewhere around mid-July.  Now, this isn't the first time I've done this but we did it differently this time.  A little background.  I've read many blog posts and articles about taking a break from spending and they all have had great ideas, hints, and strategies.  Everyone has a different take though.  Some people set a specific budget for things like groceries and, if they hit the last week of the month and have $2.00 left, they survive on $2.00.  That's not for us.  Instead our spending freeze was just that - spend nothing on anything that isn't 100% necessary.  It also meant using up some food in the fridge/freezer to keep the grocery budget down; not going anywhere to keep the gas budget down; not eating out to keep the unbudgeted spending down.  I think you get the idea.

So why did we do this?  Here are some key reasons:
1) We chose to go camping once a month this summer.  Camping costs money.  I will say that our last camping trip in July was the cheapest camping trip we've ever done.  The campground offered so much to do (swimming, playgrounds, bike riding) that we never left the campground which meant no eating out or stops at overpriced ice cream shops.  Instead we ate the food we brought, enjoyed the campground, enjoyed the campfire, and treated ourselves to an ice cream bar from the camp store.  BUT, camping still costs money.

2) Loss of Income.  This came in two parts.  One, the above mentioned camping.  Darryl is self employed and I babysit so neither one of us gets vacation days which means when we take a day off we don't get paid.  Yes, I planned for this but it still hits the budget :-)  Two, Taxi Driving usually takes a hit in the summer.  We are aware of that after this many years but, in the past few years, July has been profitable.  This is because the drivers have to renew their licenses by the end of June and normally many drivers miss the cut off which means instead of 40 cabs on the road, there might only be 15 for at least 1/2 the month.  Well, this month, that didn't happen so we've been running behind average.  Added to that are things like a root canal for Darryl and car repairs on Darryl's car . .well, you can see what happens!

3) Self Control - I mentioned in a previous post how easy it is to go out to eat or just "grab" something.  A spending freeze breaks the habit on all that spending.  From dinner out to buying books (for my Kindle) at the drop of a hat.

Our original goal was just the last two weeks in July in order to try and catch up a little but, it was such a good test that we decided to carry it through into August. Plus, since July was so extremely tight, we need to continue to work to catch up! 

July went really well.  We ate at home, and didn't buy anything unplanned without some serious thought.  Our pool pump died during the third week of July.  We have a small Intex Inflatable Ring pool so it could survive without a pump for a little while but we noticed it was starting to turn green so we knew we couldn't wait.  Thankfully the pump was already marked down at Meijer so it didn't break the bank :-)  We had planned to attend the Ionia Free Fair and attend we did!  We knew ahead of time about what we would spend and we stuck to that budget.  The boys aren't into Fair Food yet so that saved us a lot of money.  I took water/Juice Boxes in a small cooler and other than getting Josh a $1.00 ice cream cone we spend no money on food.  Instead, we went to McDonald's after the fair and got us all a good snack for 1/4 of what food would have cost at the fair.

August.  Besides using the freeze to help us catch up a little on some bills there are a few other items on the list that have to be taken care of.  Darryl has his last (hopefully) dentist appointment for his Root Canal and we need to pay that off; We are signing the boys up for Tae Kwon Do through our Local Homeschool group which requires a very small fee; Of course, we are camping near the end of the month so we have to put money aside to finish paying for our site and for a couple day outings on this trip.  I have one other activity I really want to take the boys to at the end of the month but, that will all depend on funds.  I have quite a few things I'm working on selling on our Local Garage Sale Facebook site which will be used to help with these out of budget items.  Our main goal in August is to end the month ahead so that as we enter September we can begin saving for Birthdays and Christmas!