Just like everyone else in the country I struggle with money.  My parents have always done an excellent job of instilling in me the values of hard work, but it seems I am in a rut.  I have a little credit card debit and have money stashed away for a rainy day, but sometimes it feels like I have no idea where my money is going.  I make a decent living at my job, but I feel like I have nothing to show for it.  After all, thank you for my amazing parents I do not have a car payment or any student loan debt.  My bills are small, so why isn't my savings account huge?  Let's break this down...

1.  I am an impulse buyer when it comes to small items like nail polish, food, and makeup.

2.  I justify spending money on myself because I work hard everyday at a job that really doesn't suit me which results in money spent on clothing and other items.

3.  I am a fanatic about cooking and am always trying out a new recipe.  This forces me out of my house and at the store to buy items I don't necessarily need in order to not go hungry.

These are the areas that I struggle with and it may not sound like I need to change a lot in the way I spend money to save more but I think there is more to it than that.  I have decided to embark upon a SPENDING FREEZE, yes FREEZE.  This means starting January 1st I will no longer be spending any money whatsoever on anything that is not vital to my life.  I got the idea from reading about the success of Anna Newell Jones.  She managed to get out from under her debt and save more money than I can even imagine.  This is truly an inspiration to me and my boyfriend.  We have decided to wait until January simply because we have already made monetary commitments due to the holidays (Christmas gifts, out of state wedding, and New Years Eve trip with friends).  

Since we do not live together we still have separate expenses and separate needs.  We both started by making a list of our budgets and trimming them down as much as possible.  The next thing we did was make NEEDS vs. WANTS list. 

Mine looks like this:

NEEDS

Shelter
Food
Transportation
Clothing

WANTS

New Clothing
New Car
Cosmetics

The next step was by listing items we were willing to spend money on and items we weren't willing to spend on.

WILL spend money on:

fresh produce
Chloe's medical expenses (my dog)
vitamins/prescriptions
boxed hair dye
Bible study materials/projects

WILL NOT spend money on:

clothes
hair products
fancy/prepared foods
eating out
haircuts

Here are some other tips that I will be utilizing to help me cut back on my expenses even further:

1.  Run errands only one day a week
2.  Unsubscribe from all email newsletters about sales (goodbye Macys and DSW)
3.  Make all food ahead of time (this will enable less of an urge to impulse buy food out in a hurry)
4.  No traveling out of town
5.  No eating out
6.  Only grocery shop while cabinets are bare unless buying fresh produce or milk, eggs, and bread
7.  Brown bag lunches to work and when running errands
8.  No more running errands on my lunch break, this will eliminate gas expenses and impulse buys
9.  Use cash for anything that is not an electronic payment
10.  Carpool with my honey two days a week to work (since we work down the street from each other)
11.  Write down all purchases on a daily basis to get an accurate account of money spent
12.  Account for expenses that occur on a semi/annual basis in the monthly budget (Chloe's vaccines, tests, etc.) 

These things are really going to enable me to be successful in my spending freeze challenge and are things I can start implementing right now.  It is also important to set a timeline for how long you want to not be spending.  For my honey and me this will be 90 days starting January 1st.

Here are some other helpful links:




Let me know if you have some tips that you would like to share about how you live on a budget and save like a crazy person!

" A penny saved is a penny earned."  - Ben Franklin


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