The "B" Word: Budget

>> Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Seems like all the buzz since the beginning of the economic downturn has been about cheap or thrifty (perhaps the more popular term) ways of doing anything from remodeling your kitchen to reinventing your wardrobe. Stephen and I are certainly not immune to tight financial situations. Living in New York State isn't exactly a treat right now. Especially considering that we both work FOR the state which is in billions upon billions of dollars in debt (set to double by this time next year) and cutting programs and jobs left and right. Beyond this fact, we've been on the conservative spending side of things since college ended thanks to the 4 most glorious years of our lives -- and an added one for Stephen's graduate work -- at a private school with little $$$ assistance. Add a car loan, home loan, some credit card debt (though, not too much, thankfully), and lots of dinners out, and we really don't have much saved.

There's good news! We're realizing now that despite it all, we FINALLY have the power and the motivation to start saving, even if it's only a tiny bit. And when we passed the 25-year mark in our lives . . . we realized we needed to grow up a bit.

For instance. Wii. We love you dearly. But seriously? You come out with a new game every millisecond -- and Stephen just can't resist you. Just look at him, absolutely addicted to DJ Hero! J. Crew, West Elm, Anthropologie. Please. Stop sending me your gorgeous glossy catalogs every month. I can't resist, and I've taken to having Stephen hide my credit card like some pastel Easter egg! Beloved house. Home. Roof over our heads. I beg of you. Stop presenting problems like poor circulation of heat in the master bedroom . . . a broken garbage disposal/clogged kitchen pipe . . . and who knows what else is next. And just so you're aware, I'm growing tired of your color scheme! So much paint! And then we'll need new curtains . . .

Why rant online about money woes? I guess what spurned it all is that EVERYONE I know seems to be having babies or announcing their preggers status these days. Which is great and lovely -- and I'm excited for all my dear friends. And not that we're thinking of starting a family in the near future, but it'd sure be nice to know we could someday possibly afford a crib for the kid to sleep in. And maybe some food for the poor little thing. Oh, baby . . . but we have a long way to go to build up to that point. Ultimately, we've discovered that our mid-twenties are turning into late-twenties, and fast. This means we're adults, PEOPLE! Though buying our first house was a small step in the right direction, the thought of eventually bringing about new life somehow pushes the (lack of) Benjamins right into our faces.

Well, we've done something about it all today. I drafted up a new and improved budget -- complete with savings projections through this time next year! And it looks positive. What does this mean for the neverhomemakers' household?

Some changes effective immediately:

1.) We've been inspired by Katie over at Making This Home to embark on a "no new clothing" challenge. She's already made it over 7 months. We're just two days and counting, but I'd like to see us go at least three months to start (hopefully more) . . . and then see how it goes from there. This sacrifice, if you can call it that, will likely be difficult for me . . . but it means much more wardrobe remixing!

2.) We're capping our grocery and dinners-out at a much, much lower number. As runners, our favorite non-running activity is eating -- and lots of it. We basically LIVE at Wegmans . . . and consume so much food even a competitive eater would be shamed. But we're creative in the kitchen -- so we're looking at this one as an opportunity as well. Of culinary proportions!

3.) We've given each other an allowance. Each month, instead of loosely-monitored personal spending for things we "need" (like shoes, video games, magazines, cookbooks, power tools, you name it) . . . we are allowing a certain dollar amount for a "treat" -- and we're sticking to our guns. Can't afford the pretty Tiffany key pendant this month? SAVE IT UP, girl! Maybe next month (or the next). Can't quite make the change for that custom Guitar Hero guitar (carved out of exotic beechwood)? You'll just need to wait, buddy!

There's more . . . but it's 8 minutes after my usual bedtime (again, I'm NOT a 12-year-old!). If you'd like some quick tips on how to look at your own budget and possibly pinch some pennies, check out these 9 tips on how to set up a budget. And stay tuned for more of our personal budget modifications. It means a lot less spending and a lot more contending with our home projects (etc.) with little or -- GASP! -- NO money at all.

If you have tips and tricks of you own, feel free to share. We could use some free advice!

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