Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Putting the YOU back in Frugal!!

I find myself running out of money this month. After I pay for volleyball tonight I will have only $20 of spending money left. And there's still ten more days of April. I always thought I was pretty good at math so I think the flaw is in my lack of planning for my spending.

I've been sitting pretty smugly on my laurels the past few months blithely saving away and reducing debt while NOT thinking about how much I need each month for LIFE.  I have vowed to live frugally but I didn't vow NOT TO LIVE at all!!  In fact, over the past couple of years I've discovered that I need to live each day NOW, not just wait til retirement for the party to begin.

Here's the dilemma - (though I shouldn't be looking at upcoming social events as a "dilemma")!! (I REALLY want to get away from the mindset that doing things with family and friends is to be avoided due to having to spend some $$.  I also don't want to sit and drink water while others are having a glass of wine...or just order the cheapest appetizer when everyone else is having a full meal)!!  That's not LIVING!!

So I have decided to put the U back in frUgal!! I don't go out often but I'm not going to AVOID going or be a cheapskate when I do go out. Neither am I going to throw my money around carelessly. What I DO need to do is put more planning into each month, estimate what I'll need for upcoming social events or outings with Michael and put a number to it.

I need to add an "entertainment" line to my budget. Currently I just use my catchall MISC category to cover any entertainment-related activities although when I enter my spends into I do have an entertainment line. Sorta inconsistent aren't I??

My next task then after adding an entertainment category to my budget is to figure out what I need for: a beer tonight after volleyball, dinner out with my nephews on Saturday, Easter goodies and Easter dinner with my brother on Sunday and what I might need to make it to my next paycheque on the 30th.

This is kinda exciting - I feel like I've made a breakthrough in my thinking. I hate like hell taking money out of savings once I've put it in but it's necessary to my sanity:) But don't get me going on THAT topic....


The Borrower said...

Great advice. How about - instead of withdrawing dollars from savings - you utilize a credit card (preferably with cash back) to cover entertainment costs for the rest of this month, then pull out extra dollars next month to cover this and next month?

Better to save less next month, then to beat yourself up with a withdraw today. :)

Barb said...

Jane, we all have to have some money for those things that dont make us deprived. It sounds like you made a good decision. another choice, depending on your familie's and friends habits may be to suggest less expensive altnernatives on occasion. A group I belong to no longer goes out to eat, we have a rotating dinner group, each month for example.

Anonymous said...

I like this: put the U back in frUgal.

This something I really struggle with. I sometimes feel really guilty when I spend any money.

In general I prefer to save our spare money for holidays, but going without on a weekly basis occasionally gets tiring. I'll be interested to see how this works out for you :)

Jane said...

Hi Barb: Thanks for your comment. A set amount each month will hopefully prevent me from feeling deprived AND prevent a bingefest of overspending. My group used to do potlucks but have fallen out of the habit. Time to start that up again. Why does eating out cost so much darn money???

Jane said...

Borrower: your advice is very sound as long as I don't overdo it. I do use a credit a lot for the points and pay it in full every month. I think I can handle that. You of all people know how tough it is to withdraw once you've already made the deposit:)

Louise said...

A set amount each month for entertainment is a good idea and it's being more realistic about your lifestyle by including it.

I'm still in the feeling guilty stage but I budget for one meal out a month with a friend ($20) which helps me feel less deprived.

I love the whole idea of what your blogs about, living now, not putting it all off, but I have trouble finding the balance!

Jane said...

Laura: all my life I've lived "for the future" but it seems like the future never arrives so it fits the theme of my blog to "live now" AND save for the future.

Louise: like you say it's hard to find the right balance between NOW and the FUTURE. I'll let you know if I figure it out! :)

The Witch said...

We always set aside some money for entertainment. If we don't use the money this month it just carries over to the next month.
It can add up for a great escape weekend(though the bridge has to be budgeted into this because it is $42.50 just to start the get away, which really sucks.
Again we have games night, rib and wine feast, fondue night and just a plain old BBQ with tube steaks in the Summer(hot dogs)
Our friends also plan events so almost once a month we dine out for free and don't have to cook.
We have been very lucky to have a great circle of friends who are great hostess's and cooks.
I look forward to these nights more so than going to a restaurant.

SonyaAnn said...

I think that it will help to add that category to your bills. It will make your quality of life go up a bit.
I'm not at the point where we can add a wonderful category like that to our budget. We have one in high school and one in college so it will have to wait a while. But when they graduate I bet we will feel rich!

Suzy said...

computer at work keeps messing up so don't know if I posted or not! you see to have a good balance of doing food stuff without going overboard. but budgeting entertainment can help make sure you get enough entertainment too! if you budget $200 and see you've only used $30 then maybe you need to do more LOL!


Jane said...

Witch - yes, I knew about the $42.50 to get off the island, that DOES suck but what can you do? Beats the ferry I guess:) I LOVE the idea of letting the entertainment build up if you don't use it and having a nice little mini-holiday!!

SonyaAnn - I expect my standard of living to go WAY UP once my 20yr old leaves the nest. Just the hot water bill alone will go way down!

Susanna: I love your theory of judging my social life by the amount left in my entertainment budget at the end of the month - you are too funny (but ya know, you might be onto something!!)

Sharon said...

I really like this post, Jane. I often come to your blog to see how much fun you are having. There is always something interesting to read about your adventures. This is definitely something I have to add back into my know, the living more part? We are spending a bit this week while the kids are on spring break, and it feels like almost a relief to be spending money on something fun instead of the house or car.

Jane said...

Thanks Sharon. I was actually thinking about your "living more" phrase when I was writing this - sometimes in order to "live more" we need to spend a little more. Not extravagantly but just a bit here and there to make life "enjoyable" rather than simply "frugal".

Suzy said...

well I remember someone who actualy had trouble keeping on weight (HA I could wish...) but she was tracking her calories to make sure she had ENOUGH for the day instead of making sure she hadn't gone over (like the majority of us) she knew she needed a shake or power bar or nuts or something if she was too far under. they told us at WW too that we wanted to make sure we didn't go under our daily pts allowance and we all snickered but a few said they were having that problem(lucky suckers!) so they were told to boost theirs. so if your entertainment budget is continually showing a big balance left over then I'd evaluate how you felt that month and see if you need to lower the budget or add in more fun! :-)

Jane said...

Gee Susanna that would be quite a predicament to have to count calories to be sure you had eaten enough!! Hard to imagine that ever happening to me, but a girl can dream I guess!