May 29 11

There are things I have decided that I absolutely need. I need a pair of jean capris for summer weekends. I need a bigger memory card for my camera. I need a new pair of driving sunglasses.

Some would argue, I’m sure, that these are not necessarily needs as much as wants, but that, friends, is an argument for another day. The point is, that, these are things I will have in my possession sometime soon, unlike that whole J.Crew trenchcoat and those black pumps made by someone who starts with a J and ends with an O and has an immy cho in the middle. Those things will not be mine. Because they don’t fit in my budget.

Yes. Budget. I have one. A big one.

My life changed right around two years ago when the husband and I sat down to talk about money our needs and our wants. There were things that we really wanted to have, like the new house in which we now live. But that was impossible if we continued to spend money the way that we were. And, it wasn’t like we lived some sort of lavish lifestyle, it was just that we were sort of irresponsible when it came to spending. If I wanted to go to Starbucks four times a week, I did. If I wanted to get my hair cut and colored, I did. If I wanted to buy a new trenchcoat, I did. And if I wanted to stop at Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some tampons, I did, and walked out with a receipt for $190 for all the gum and books and shampoo and headbands and lipgloss that I absolutely had to have.

So, we sat down in front of a spreadsheet and divided it into three parts. Needs. Wants. Savings. The first column contained our absolute expenses each month – car payments, mortgage payments, hydro bills, tuition etc. The second column contained things we wanted. XX amount of dollars to be spent on food, xx amount of dollars to be spent on the kids, xx amount of dollars to be spend on things for me, etc. Each of these has a maximum amount, and once it has been spent each month, it has been spent.

And for the first time ever, The Martells were adding numbers to the third column, savings. Instead of borrowing money each month from the bank, we were finding ourselves not only debt-free, but actually saving money.

It’s possible that in doing so, we also saved our marriage. It’s possible.

For the first time in my life, I have an appreciation for every dollar that we earn. For the first time in my life, I walk into Shoppers Drug Mart and buy exactly what I went there to buy. I am making wise choices, and at the same time, I really don’t feel like I am living without. I do get to buy the things I need. When June comes around, I will have my xx amount of money to buy the capris and the memory card and the sunglasses, and I will still have money left to spare.

So, even though I’m not buying any Jimmy Choos, and I will wear my Old Navy trenchcoat through the rest of the rainy season, it’s 1000% percent worth it. Because when our roof goes or the air conditioning in the van goes or when we decide to buy some artwork for our living room, we won’t cry or panic or worry…we will just pay. And we will feel good about it. Which feels almost as good as an amazing pair of shoes.

Almost.

 

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  1. We recently became a one income family. It kind of sucks. But I want to be home with the kids, and we’re going to make it work.
    Needs are first. Wants… well, I think we have some stuff around the house to sell – ebay or craigslist, that’ll get my new lens. Savings? Well…. none to speak of. But soon. Hopefully.
    Glad things are working out so far. It’s tough, hang in there.

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    Comment by monstergirlee on May 30, 2011
  2. Wow. Good for you.
    The interesting this is that it really doesn’t have that much to do with money. I mean we all have a ton (okay, 10, maybe 100 tons) of stuff we wanted and when we got it, it really didn’t matter that much.
    (I say that as a shoeaholic and fashion lover.. and and and…)But it’s so nice, comforting and I guess freeing to have a handle on spending and goals etc.
    You’re right, it feels pretty Jimmy Chooalicious to have a budget and money when you need it.

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    ali replied on

    It just feels good to be accountable for every penny I spend, be it at the grocery store or at the mall. It helps me make wise decisions about where to spend it…and do I really NEED to have certain things. Does that make sense?

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    Pam @writewrds replied on

    It makes perfect sense. I think the accountability is the key — making yourself responsible for what, when and how you spend.
    I’m honestly struggling with budgeting right now. Money keeps flying out the door in the hands of teenagers who ask for it within seconds of having to leave. And random forms keep coming home for unexpected sports expenses and school outings. Also looking forward to when the tutor stops coming twice a week (kid should get 102% in math) and the braces come off. Money is vanishing. (Sorry for the rant.)

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    ali replied on

    I am absolutely TERRIFIED for the braces. I think we may be able to skip them with my oldest, but one of our bffs is an ortho and he took one look at my middle child’s mouth and said, “YES. HE WILL NEED BRACES.”

    sigh.

    Comment by Pam @writewrds on May 30, 2011
  3. First off, I love your new look – gorgeous!

    I hate, hate, hate the money conversation, but it’s a good one to have. For a capricorn, I am not good with money. Nevertheless, me and the huz have also recently looked at Where We Are compared to Where We Want To Be. Getting from point a to point b might not be fun, but we’re committed.
    Good luck. And those shoes aren’t all that awesome ;)

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    ali replied on

    I know. I don’t even want those shoes. SIGH. But they are just a placeholder for things like family vacations and office furniture and having my kitchen chairs recovered and painting the house and a new camera body etc. There are big things I want, and we just can’t justify those purchases…and I have come to terms with it. That we will get there, if we continue to do what we are doing – which is spending WITHIN OUR MEANS.

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    Comment by karengreeners on May 30, 2011
  4. Thank you for writing this. It sounds almost… simple. I’m scared out of my mind to do this, though. What you described in Shoppers happens to me on a weekly basis. I love new things. Shopping makes me HAPPY. I don’t even like looking at my bank account, it scares me so. And my children are used to me buying them whatever when we go shopping. I have some changes to make. Big ones. I’m blogging about this now. If you can do it… hopefully I can, too!

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    Comment by Loukia on May 30, 2011
  5. the keyword is: Priorities!!!
    and those are realy amazing shoes ;)

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    Comment by sapir on May 30, 2011
  6. This was an inspiring post. I used to be a strict budgeter while my husband really doesn’t care about money coming or going. We’ve always lived within our means though. Lately, we’ve both been really spendy. We eat out a lot and we’re in the middle of several home renovations. I really think I need to sit down and work out a budget before things get too out of control.

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    Comment by Danielle on May 30, 2011
  7. since I just started mat leave budgeting has been huge on my mind. First thing to go – Tim Horton’s and eating lunch out. Seriously when I think about all I spent in a month on that, mind boggling! And the random “i’ll just pick this up, we could use it” when really don’t – those will stop. Thanks for posting, keeping me motivated while I curb my spending habits.

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    Comment by Katy on May 30, 2011
  8. The shoes look like they would hurt anyway :)

    We are both part of the same union that went on strike for 3 days this month. Gah! Just what we need 2 months before our wedding.

    Hello, budget!

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    Comment by Heather on May 30, 2011
  9. Good for you! I think I need to do this. I don’t have a ton of money and my frivolous things I spend money on are like a purse from Target, but I’ve had a bit of a money crunch lately because of switching jobs and I really need to get it in check!

    Do you use any software or anything?

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    Comment by Kristabella on May 31, 2011
  10. I did this last year in say September. I’d been living like I still had two incomes coming into my house and well, it was just me. So budget it was. It was hard at first, but I’ve gotten the hang of it. I too, have a savings again and it’s sorta nice.

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    Comment by Issa on May 31, 2011
  11. I love every bit of this post, from the spreadsheet to the glorious heels at the end. ;)

    xox

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    Comment by heidikins on May 31, 2011
  12. We don’t budget *shrugs* – I just go out and make more money when I want extra. Easy enough for me as I get paid by the hour. But we really should = we have $$$$ private school fees for Miranda starting in 2015. Which will be here sooner rather than later. Gulp.

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    Comment by Heidi on June 1, 2011
  13. [...] course, bank, don’t you know? I am on a BUDGET. If I was spending thousands of dollars I’d be buying myself a sweet, sweet Canon 5D Mark II. [...]

    Pingback by » DO NOT LIKE, LIKE VERY MUCH, as Illustrated by John Cusack. And my Credit Card Cheaper Than Therapy on June 28, 2011
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