Saturday, July 12, 2008

Not Making Cents

Yesterday Audra reprimanded me about my spending. It's not her fault, it was self-induced, really. She was only doing what any good friend would do. The whole conversation started out innocently enough, we went for a stroll around Portland to find vegan chocolate chip cookies and then ended up back in my office with no real plans to do any work during the last hour of the day.

It's review time at work and I might've mentioned something about raises not mattering because no matter how much money I make, we always seem to be broke. Then I might have said, "broke, broke, broke", followed by a distortion of my mouth and face that amounted to an "I'm sick of myself" expression.

For those of you who do not know Audra, let's just say that she is a bit "no nonsense". She has no tolerance for irresponsibility and frivolousness (or environmental abuse, but that's a separate blog).

I first tried to blame my financial woes on the kids. I whined that we were riddled with costs for daycare, private school, summer care, piano lessons, swim lessons, golf lessons, gymnastics, snacks for schools, activity fees, clothing, breathing (oh, wait, that one is actually free). She looked unimpressed. "You make more than you spend on that stuff. So where is the rest going?", my 401K, um...

No. Though some does go to those places, the real problem is my spending. I feel compelled to note that at this point in the conversation, Audra looked disgusted, as if I had just thrown a plastic bottle in my trash can.

She said that my blog on Sweet Tea highlighted my problem with consumerism. "Did you really need the Starbucks at Target?" "What did you go to Target for?" "What did you leave with?" All very valid questions. I went to Target for trash bags and I left with everything but. I broke down and confessed my secret trick to try to spend under $100 so that my spending would dip below Dirt's watchful radar. I don't know if that trick actually works because Dirt never mentions anything to me about my spending, but with every swipe of my debit card, I can almost feel his eyes perusing the details of our account, just looking for a triple-digit purchase to interrogate me about.

After our conversation I felt motivated to go home and make a budget with Dirt. He was going to be so proud of me for initiating budget talks, I couldn't wait to impress him with my new-found motivation for living within financial confines. "What about purchasing things we need, or home renovations?" I asked, "What about vacations?". Audra gave me a line about saving and budgeting for them, she may've called me "young grasshopper", I'm not 100% sure.

Since Audra is all about plans (she's a PM by nature and by profession), she gave me an assignment: For 1 week Dirt and I were not to buy anything outside of gas and groceries. One week. I was up for the challenge! We smiled and she stood up and told me she'd check in with me on Monday to see how I did.

Earlier in the day Dirt had e-mailed me a picture of some fishing boots that he wanted me to pick up at Cabalas on the way home. Since we hadn't formally had our budget discussion, I felt that it would be unfair for me start budgeting by cutting out his desired item. So I left work and headed to Cabalas as planned for the $60 boots. But that's when something bad happened. I panicked. I felt the urge to hoard up on things before the budget went into effect. By the time I got to the register I was up to $200, it was not a good start to my new financial plan.

I spent most of the day today thinking about all of the things I need to buy before the budget goes into effect. This is probably not the proper thinking and I'm sure that Audra will scold me for this on Monday.


K-Sea said...

That's the "Dad" gene at work.

T5M said...

Which part, the budgeting or the impulse buying?

...remember his master budget spreadsheet? That was nuts. He had a line item on there for my wedding (and I was only 9).

MOM said...

Dad and I always lived on a budget. You kids survived and did not feel deprived. (I think?)

My grandchildren are sooooooooooo spoiled! That is where you could save a ton of money.

Oh, and by the way, how about that sign you bought yesterday. Was that in your budget? Don't get me started on your spending habits. You should never have posted this blog because I could go on forever.

Audra said...

what sign?

Erin! How did you end up with $200 of stuff! The boots were $60! Seriously , every time you want to spend money you should wait 3 days and then if you still want it fine. You have got to break the impulse shopping habit. Consider it like a 3 day waiting period on guns, a 3 day waiting period on shopping.
Good gravy

T5M said...

Ouch. I was fearing that response. I'm glad the blog took the first hit. ...Kinda softened the blow seeing the "words of wrath" in writing.

I'll be dodging her for the rest of the day.

I *heart* Audra!

T5M said...

btw, the sign was said:

"Old fisherman never die, they just smell that way"

...I hung it in Dirt's garage...

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of the same way. A couple years ago I worked at a job with this girl who said every day during lunch you should go out and buy one thing for yourself. For her it would be something simple like a pack of tic tacs or a candy bar but my one thing was always a pair of shoes or a nice dress a few years later it turned in to full blown shopping sprees....I'm actually upset at myself as I'm typing this because I bought hundreds and hundreds of dollars of clothes that now I can't even wear they all still have the tags on them, at least it motivation for me to get back to my normal weight after I have the baby. But, from this point on I've been so paranoid about not having enough money for that "rainy day" that I even neglect buying things that I need, but I'm going to try the 3 day rule it sounds like a great idea.

Michelle said...

You are funny...hoard up before the budget goes into effect. But I promise you this. If you do what your friend suggested for one week, you may want to continue it for another, and then another. And then when you see something you want, you may decide to wait a week and see if you still HAVE to have it...good luck!

Audra said...

Furthermore Erin, why didn't you take pictures of pennies with your new camera instead of using someone elses images???

Alison said...

Good Grief!
Good luck !!! Audra and I did this very thing, once. We made a deal NOT to buy anything that was not a necessity to living (ie, food, water)could only use cash, and if you could make it- you could not buy it. It was awful!

I was reduced to making my own ice coffee which was terrible and shopping without my wallet!

Clearly, you know who was successful and who was not? :)

T5M said...

I *heart* Audra.

..look at her still scoulding me about the image I used (It was FREE!) ...hee hee...