Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Update on Spending

It's been a few weeks since I talked about my resolution concerning credit card usage. Even though I don't mention it here often, I feel like I'm constantly thinking about spending money. Not just on things I want, but on bills and other necessities. Right now I feel like I'm thinking about money more than ever, and it's depressing.

Jay and I had a credit card setback this weekend. I spent $51 on fabric at Etsy and Jay bought a $30 blender at Best Buy. The blender was to replace the one that was taken when my mom's ex husband moved out. And the fabric, well, I suppose that was frivolous. My first truly frivolous credit card purchase of the year.

I'm in no way making excuses for my spending, but I want to be honest in saying that this year has been rough for me so far. First there was the dissolution of my mom's marriage, while ultimately a good thing, didn't come without a few bumps in the road, one bump being the fact that there is now one less income being brought into the house. Then the boy broke his arm. (As a side note to this, my son is a walking accident lately. In the space of six weeks he broke his arm, got hit in the face with a rock, and fell into a cactus patch. I'm scared to let him leave the house.) Now my beloved big dog Lulu is dying of cancer and the feeling of not being able to fix it is frustrating and powerfully overwhelming. Our hope is that she dies peacefully and quietly here at home, but if the inevitable doesn't happen soon, other measures will have to be taken. There is a lot of sad waiting going on here. Again, I'm not making excuses for my spending. I'm aware that life is always going to come with its struggles. My life just seems to be a little bit harder than usual lately.

One reason we aren't using credit cards this year is because we want to learn to better enjoy life without spending money. The major reason though, is that our debt was crazy and if we didn't start actively digging ourselves out of the hole, it would have gotten ugly real soon. Despite this weekends setback, we've made headway. We just can't afford anymore setbacks.

While I am an all-or-nothing perfectionist with goals, Jay is more easygoing and realistic. He says I need to quit beating myself up and move on, that I shouldn't be thinking about this nearly as much as I am, and that this weekends shopping was just an itch that needed to be scratched. I agree with him and I know that he's right, my brain just works a little differently I guess.

In other spending news: We still haven't bought any new clothes this year and I am to the point where I literally hate everything in my closet. This weekend I cleaned out my closet and threw away some of the more ragged items. Jay said I should give myself permission to buy a few things. (I think he's just tired of seeing my clothes.) I refuse to though because I think it's a slippery slope. If I justify buying one item, it will be much easier to justify buying more. Then in three weeks I'll get a credit card bill and be depressed. But yeah, totally hating my wardrobe right now.

In conclusion, we've made some progress but I still feel we have a long way to go. I really want to learn to deal with life's problems without going into debt. Any advice, kind words, or your own personal debt stories are appreciated.


Jessie Earth Momma said...

Oh my goodness. I can relate. I beat myself up all the time for buying things. Especially fast food. I have not found the balance of good spending and frivolous spending.

Nowheymama said...

We are trying to find ways to cut back, too. Sometimes it's hard to remember that all of the little things do add up, slowly. And while it feels like deprivation in the short term, in the long term you are giving yourself the gift of no debt.

As for wardrobe--yard sale season is coming! I was reminded of this when our neighbor picked up a like-new 25-cent John Deere shirt for E. last weekend. It made his day.

Veronica said...

Yep! Garage sale next month! Start hunting and gathering and get ready to sell!

Although I love getting the extra cash from the garage sales we have, i really DON'T LIKE the whole process to get that cash: the searching; the waking up early; the set up; the haggling; etc. I'll leave that to my husband and I'll just stand there and look pretty, lol. If he wasn't there, i think i'd just sell everything for $1.

Miss D. said...

I totally hear you -- we are not spending money this year either since we're waiting on Terri's disability so are down to one income (and lots of medical bills). I have found reading the Tightwad Gazette books VERY helpful (from the library, of course) and inspiring about changing your attitude about frugality -- that it's not about deprivation, it's about creativity. I like that. I've also made a game of making my weekly grocery shopping as cheap as possible. What can I use up? What can I buy in bulk? What can I get at the grocery outlet? How cheap can I make our meals (and still not feel deprived). If it's a game, it's fun. If it's because you're broke, it's no fun. As for clothes, I agree -- yard sale season! I also give myself 'shopping sprees' at the thrift store (as long as each item is under $6 and as long as I truly love the item). You're doing great and you can justify the cost of the fabric in that it will be used for many items that you will not have to now buy!

kraftykash said...

The fabric police are on they way over...surrender now!! JK :) My clothes kinda suck at this point too. My friends & I like to add in a necklace, scarf, or cute bag to "jazz" up our faded out v-neck tshirt. I like to sell stuff on craigslist to make a few extra $$ for things we need. Ever tried that? Kids clothes are so popular, especially in groups. I do also love the Tightwad Gazette, fun book to read! Is there an updated version, I wonder? Hang in there girlie!

Shalet said...

Well I'll join you in the crappy clothes but unwilling to spend money department. I totally second and third the garage sale route. You can find some awesome deals for very little money. As for me I'm anxiously awaiting summer so I can lounge about in shorts and grimy t-shirts and blame the weather for my lack of fashion acumen.

And if all you've spent frivolously this year is $50.00? Way to go! That is only $12.50 a month. I'd say that's excellent and definitely not a reason to beat yourself up.

Me I feel guilty going to the cardiologist because that costs $40.00 a pop. We all feel guilty for things we shouldn't. Now I need to go write a photoshop post and earn my cardiology money back. ;o)

Carla said...

Money - what a topic, I could go on forever! I constantly think about it too and it drives me bonkers (and my hubby). Fortunately we are not in debt except for a mortgage but it's an increasing struggle to keep it that way. Is there any way you can budget yourself $25 or $50 or even $100, get it in cash and see how far you can stretch it for new wardrobe items? I'm always amazed at how just a few items make me feel better about my clothes.
Overall though, it sounds like you are doing awesome with the spending control - I'd say $50 is minor.

Karen said...

I a SO sorry to hear about your dog. That's so heartbreaking for your family.

We've been on a spending hiatus this year because we are broke from student loans and we think it might be nice to retire one day. I've fallen off the wagon a few times (fabric and make up) but the damage wasn't too bad. The real problem is food--it costs so damn much to eat decently, especially when you buy prepared or frozen food, which we unfortunately have been doing a lot lately. Frozen pizza at seven dollars?! Hell.

I have no advice or wisdom, sorry. But my clothes are ugly and have holes in them, if that makes you feel better.

Tammie said...

jessie: i have a hard time finding that balance too. its a constant struggle.

nowhey: you're so right. when i want to spend money and i dont end up doing it, its a good feeling. i feel like i "won." i know when the year is up and our debt is reduced, i'll feel better. sometimes its harder than others though.

veronica: i know!!!i dont mind the setting up but i dont like dealing with the customers.

d: i agree. if i can view it as a creative doesnt bother me, but when i sit around thinking about how broke i am, then i start wanting the pity party. i try to justify the fabric because i can make some useful things, but also the creative outlet keeps me sane. as long as i dont start thinking i need every pretty fabric i see, i think i'll be ok.

kashoan: i really do need to accessorize more. it would probably make me feel better if i did. i guess i can always make a few handbags. ha i need to get my hands on this tightwad gazette that everyone is talking about.

shalet: i feel guilty going to the dr too. i always consider it an unnecessary expense.

carla: jay and i each budget ourselves a small amount of cash every month but it goes fast. and we really dont want to up the amount because we think that would be counter productive to the ultimate goal.

karen: thank you for the comment about my doggie. :( its sad and hard. every day i try to decide what the best course of action and this waiting is so hard. and yes, it did make me feel a lot better knowing your clothes were ugly and had holes in them. :)

Mari said...

What I hate the most is waste: if food goes bad, buried in the fridge, or I buy the kids something they have to have for school, only to find the same thing in a box a month later.

I am sorry to hear about your dog, I lost my pup last year and it is really hard still.

Tammie said...

thanks mari...i complain about all my animals a lot but when it comes right down to it i love them all dearly and i feel like im losing one of my buddies.

i hate the waste too and i try really hard to be vigilant about making sure that every little bit of food in our house gets eaten.
i find myself eating things i dont want to eat just so it doesnt go bad.

Aleta said...

Don't stop doing what you are doing. It takes a lot of will power and strength to become debt free. I was fortunate that Greg didn't believe in credit cards and has never owned one. But for me, during a divorce, I was the foolish one to put everything on my credit card (my ex had a bankruptcy and used my credit to re-establish his and it was in my name - ugh). Anyway.... I had 10k in debt after the divorce. It's not easy to work out of, but you can. I promise, you can. I did it, you can do it. Work on the smaller credit card balances first. Get them paid out and give you a sense of accomplishment. Before you buy anything, think if you really need it. I don't buy new cloths much either and I get tired of the same outfits, but you know what, it feels good to know if I use the credit card at all during the month, I can pay it out that same month. You CAN do this!

melissa s. said...

no advice or stories, just some kind words: be nice to yourself. let go of the guilt and enjoy your new fabric. know that you're doing good things and good things will come back to you. easy peasy :)

hester said...

Jay is right (and your friends, too) - don't beat yourself up. You're doing a great job. I hope you enjoy your fabric - think of it as good value therapy if it helps you stay happy and sane.

And sorry about your dog. They are real members of the family, hey?