Monday, May 09, 2011

Spending more deliberately

When you need to cut your expenses, what do you do?

Basically, I'm trying to spend less on random shit so I have more to put towards some specific things. And be more mindful and deliberate about how I spend.

We make enough to cover our monthly expenses. But we have some large extra expenses lately, and what I want to do is allocate more of our monthly money rather than our savings towards them.

Because as it is, after putting towards retirement, we spend what we make. This is OK, in that we're both very responsible, and neither of us has ever outspent what we've earned.

But I know it's possible for us to take out of one pocket to put into the other, which is my goal here.

I know that we buy things we don't need, and spend money in unnecessary ways.

There are some things that aren't needs that aren't negotiable, so I'm considering them needs. Like, I can happily eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch every day - and pretty much do - but Nick would be really unhappy if he did that, and so for him, buying lunch every office day is a need. Even though technically it's not a need.


I was reading about money-saving strategies, and this was one of them: take yourself off email lists from stores. Then you're not confronted daily and weekly with ooh, new shoes! and 20% off today only! kinds of things.

And I, as you know, I am one to click! And feel like I MUST HAVE whatever it is! Because look, free shipping!

I've been unsubscribing from email lists like a fiend. I said buh-bye, Old Navy. Buh-bye, Gap. And Ann Taylor. And Nine West. And Children's Place. And and and and and.

Now that I've started, I realize how many of these emails I get. It's kind of astounding. They're nearly all clothing or shoes, for Jordan or for me. And I can always justify a purchase for Jordan. And shoes. I'm really good at justifying shoes.

Hell, I'm really good at justifying whatever I reallyreally want.

So I am trying to limit what I buy to things we need. Or a must-have kind of thing. Not a "must have because it's 30% off"or "ohh, but it's orange!" No.

I just started this yesterday. And not being math-y or spreadsheet-y, it's not my strength. I've always stayed within my limit, but I've never tried to be particularly deliberate in allocations.

I'm kind of curious to see how this goes.


  1. I hate trying to save money, but my husband is actually pretty good about it if I let him. Here are our top 3 money saving strategies:

    1) Menus/Grocery lists. Plan menus and write down a grocery list. Only buy what you need, and put everything you need on that list. Buy nothing else.

    2) No eating out/ordering in for dinner except maybe for special occasions.

    3) Automatic transfers to a savings account. We opened up 3 ING accounts for 3 separate long term items we're saving for, and the money is deposited every month automatically. Without even trying, we've saved about $10,000 in less than a year. We can always dig into those accounts if we need to, but we try not to touch them.

  2. I'm doing something similar, but instead of unsubscribing, I send them all to spam. That way, if I decide I DO need a black pinstripe jacket or blush patent pump, I can hop into the spam folder to see who has a deal right now.

    Or if I'm bored.

    Your way's probably better.

  3. I've been doing the same thing - and it's shocking, really, how many emails I was getting. Seriously. I used to wake up and have at least a dozen emails. Now, I have maybe three or four - and one of those is the NY Times.

    It's really nice, actually. And I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. Good luck!

  4. This is exactly the kind of thing I get excited about!

    When I need to cut expenses, I stop going out to eat and buying things for the house. I tend to shop more for the house than for clothes.

    For years I've lived by a budget, sort of like a healthy diet it's a lifestyle so I never feel deprived of wants. Travel is something I enjoy and a luxury so I make it work in the budget. I look at expenses, income and savings in terms of percentages, a percent of my income goes to savings, percent of spending to housing, clothes, dining out etc. I like looking at percentages more than actual amounts that way if your income changes, the budget is still relevant and it's a big picture view to easily shift spending from one category to another.

    Good luck!

  5. i've been trying to budget forever, i made the most progress when i learned to do "the sweep" before each new paycheck.

    for example, i get payed on the 1st and 15th. so on the last day of the month i take any money left over in my account and sweep it into my savings. on the 14th, i take whatever money is "left over" and sweep it to my credit card bill.

    it was always that little extra money that was left over that i would splurge on new things. this solved that problem. it also helps that i've disconnected my savings from my atm, and removed my credit card from my purse.

    good luck!

  6. I've never been great with money, but after going through a long period of unemployment, and now being back in school, I have far less money than I used to and have had to drastically change my spending habits. It has been really difficult, but I have also gained a new perspective on "things". I live much more simply than I used to and spend less on items that I do want or need. I use coupons more, I shop at thrift stores more, etc.

    One thing I still splurge on, though, is wine. And I won't apologize for it :-)

  7. I have budgeted since I became a single mum 13 years ago. In my previous job it wasnt so bad because I was on a fairly good income so budgeting wasnt too constrictive. Now however I am on significantly less than I was and so I have had to tighten the belt a lot. I do a lot of it and have managed to keep things down by being strict with myself but also allowing myself the occasional extra but just not too often and only if i can really justify it.

  8. good for you - this is a great idea!

    i take care of all the shopping and cooking and HATE when any food gets wasted which keeps the grocery list tight.

  9. Luna - These are great ideas. I am terrible at meal planning, but I believe that would make a huge difference and reduce a lot of waste.

    Rachael - I think that's good strategy, because sometimes you do need something, and 20% off is very helpful. For me right now, though, I would be too tempted in bored moments to open them in my spam folder and click away.

    Jessica - Now that I am paying attention and unsubscribing as they come in, I'm astounded at how many lists I am on. Very few of which I actually signed up for.

    HK - I bet you are incredibly good at this! And I bet you have complex spreadsheets (I say this without kidding and with no sarcasm - I find it impressive.) I should ask you for a sample budget.

    jen - That is smart! You are right that any leftover money is so easy to put towards frivolous stuff.

    Stevie - You point out something very interesting - the "things" are all in the perspective. And you choose what is important. And wine is nothing to apologize for. :)

    Go-Betty - Good for you. Once again, I am so impressed that you are a single mom and that you have done such an amazing job. There are so many aspects to it that I haven't thought about, and really, you are extraordinary.

    stacy - I hate the food waste as well, and we really seem to waste produce.

  10. This is hard. Hard, hard, hard, and I'm not a spendthrift. Have you checked out It's a good way to track your spending, and allows you to set up a monthly budget.


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