I recently posted on my Facebook that I was, ahem…”mentally preparing myself for a No Spend April.” A friend suggested that I do a blog post on it. See I’ve got really smart friends!
Mark and I are still house searching as well as contemplating building to suit our needs for a growing farm operation. Frankly, either way, both are expensive. Mark has a good job, I work part-time while finishing up school, but we still are as Jo Dee Messina puts it “above the below and below the upper” when it comes to finances. We’ve started following a lot of the Dave Ramsey financial books-Yes, we jumped on that band wagon because it works. We’ve paid off quite a few school loans already and have eliminated quite a bit of debt. However, we really need to curb our finances to start seriously saving. Sure, a % of our pay checks goes automatically into savings that we don’t touch, but we still spend way more than we should on incidentals, restaurants and my big sin-clothes shopping.
Here’s a fun fact about me (don’t judge…okay…judge) I have 3 dressers, 1 closet and 1 closet rack full of clothes and I still can’t fit it all in! Did I just admit that? I have over 55 sweatshirts hanging in my closet. Mind you-I haven’t changed size since about 9thgrade so a lot of my clothes are 10 years old and Yes, I still wear it. I have my bank’s Cub Club t-shirt from when I was 10 and got my first savings account (Thanks Ma for my beginning $25) and I still wear it. A lot of my clothes are from garage sales or used clothing stores (I scored an American Eagle blazer for $5 at Goodwill the other day!) But I do not need another single piece of clothing, no matter how badly I want it. I went shopping at JC Penney’s a few weeks ago and came home with 6 shirts and a pair of pants all for $50. Pretty good deal right? Yes, but it is only a “deal” or “savings” if you actually need it. I probably could have lived without those new mint jeans no matter how much I love them.
So what’s important to me- a house. No- a home. A place we can make our own, decorate and make memories in. A place our future children can play games, make a mess and track mud in to. A place that I can snuggle on the couch with my hubby and not care that my laundry isn’t done. A place we can plant roots, teach our children about farming and taking care of the land, and a place we can call our own. As much as I am grateful to my mom for putting up with us until we can find something that suits our needs, it can be frustrating too. We don’t have enough space and all my lovely wedding gifts are stacked on shelving units still in their boxes, unused, just waiting for their own home as well. So that is where my first “NO Spend April” comes in.
I am vowing not to spend any money on clothing this month. It actually makes me shudder a little bit saying that-how awful is that? I am vowing to not eat out except for ONCE this month. So no Mav Ave for a quick lunch or Noodles for some Wisconsin Mac & Cheese. Time to brown bag it every day! We will be sticking to a budget for groceries/personal care/etc. of $150 for the month. This also means I’m going to try to work with what is in the pantry as much as I can. Time to use up the countless bags of noodles (How does that happen? 8 bags of different noodles?! For real!) so Mark might be eating a lot of hotdishes this month! J Gas is our biggest budget buster with Mark currently commuting an hour to work, and me twice a week as well. But now that it is spring, Mark is switching to his “beater car” versus truck to help save money on that front. I will also try to eliminate trips to town unless absolutely needed to help with that as well. There are 2 things that I will be spending money on: my Sigma stoles for graduation (HOLY CRAP, I’m graduating in a month with 2 degrees!!) and a hair appointment I have made for a wedding. But those are the only 2 “incidentals” I will be spending money on this month. I won’t be purchasing any games, any DVD rentals, Caribou Coffee (GULP), and/or decor items, etc. You get the idea. We’ll be figuring out more free date night ideas and if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!
I know it is going to be hard. In fact, I can already feel my chest tightening a little bit while writing this. But I also know the end reward is greater. Not only will we be working to make our money work for us and not let it control us, we will be saving towards that end goal of a place to call our own. We have other big purchases in mind such as a new camper, an iPad for farm marketing use, and new phones as well, so we know we need to start taking control of our money.
Do you do any type of budgeting and savings plan? We also are doing the 52 week savings plan and the $5 bill plan this year as well. But really cracking down on our spending (and don’t let Mark fool you- he has his vices too…ahem tools and fishing gear) will help us figure out where our money is going and how we can better utilize it towards our goals.
Thoughts? Suggestions? I’m open to hear your money saving tips! Know anywhere to get some good Caribou coupons-haha…but seriously…