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Old 12-21-2013, 12:59 AM   #16
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Hello coaches,

Day 2 - choose 2 diets, which I am turning into choose 2 budget systems! I have been using a software program called YNAB (You Need A Budget) for awhile. It is a good program so it will be my number one choice. In a way it is like an electronic version of the envelope system. Plus I have apps that automatically link to it on my phone and iPad so it is very easy to enter information straight away - and it is very easy to see at the point if purchase whether there are any $ left in a budget category.

The flaw in these kinds of systems (and one which I have historically exploited to the max) is that although I have $X in my "electricity bill" envelope it is only virtual money and the $X,000 overdraw in my "spending envelope" means that when the electricity bill comes in there are only virtual dollars in the envelope and no actual $ with which to pay the bill.

And the way my head works as soon as something is sufficiently in the red that paying it off in one pay is not achievable I get into the "well I've blown it so I might as well keep going" mindset. And if I say "you can't spend anything at all" then it is so restrictive that I end up bingeing as soon as a pay comes in.

So - what I have done is set up two separate spending money envelopes. One has the big negative balance - and I am not allowed to spend from that at all. The second one has a small amount going in each pay and I am allowed to spend it - but it absolutely cannot go into the red! The theory is that gradually the one with the big negative balance will gradually reduce, and eventually, in about 2 years time, it will have a zero balance. I think it will work. The one limitation to it is that I will have some big bills coming in in the next 6 months that I can't budget for so they will just have to be be added to the envelope with the big negative balance. But nothing else can!

My back up budgeting system is the physical envelope system. It would be logistically more challenging and it would annoy me to be laying credit card interest when there is cash in an envelope at home - but if I can't keep to the program in the land of virtual money I will give it a try.

Some credits for today: I stopped myself from checking out the ad for apps that link with my fitness pal - a fitbit is not something i need so why torture myself thinking about it. Similarly something I was using today linked me to the App Store on my iPad. I had just clicked on the "Best Apps of 2013" and then thought - no, don't go there - there is nothing you need and it will only ake you want stuff you don't need. Did a bit if good thinking today too - one of my kids wants a new pair of swimmers - she has some that fit but they are pretty worn out and she doesn't like them anymore. In the past I would have just let her get new ones. I also promised the kids (months ago) new sandals for the summer. They have thongs (can't remember if that word is used in the US - beach shoes basically - maybe called flip flops?). I won't have enough in my "kid's expenses" envelope to buy sandals and swimmers - so I realised I can let them decide - would they rather have new swimmers and make do with wearing things this summer? Or would they prefer to make do with their existing swimmers and get some sandals.

Sorry this is so long, it is really helpful to talk this stuff through.

PAMATGA - I think you are absolutely right that in the circumstances you should be just applauding yourself for getting through each day. I remember a colleague of mine who works with people living on welfare getting really angry once when someone spouted off about some women living on the poverty line needing to learn how to budget. This colleague made the comment that in his experience people living on extremely low incomes were the best budgeters he had ever met!

And I also think you are right that it is important to sometimes give yourself - treat. The parallels with food are so common and here is another - if you never let yourself have a food you love then eating healthier won't work because eventually you will cave and go crazy. Similarly, to my mind, to live within one's means requires giving oneself some wriggle room to enjoy life. As with food though the challenge is just to get the balance right - splurge sufficiently infrequently, or sufficiently frugally (as it sounds like you have) that the big goal is not undermined, while at the same time making sure it is frequent enough that you don't go on a monetary binge when you finally take the brakes off.

In any event - hats off to you Pam for getting through each day.
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Old 12-21-2013, 02:51 PM   #17
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My current budget plan is this: 1) be realistic 2) pay the four walls "food, clothing, shelter and transportation" FIRST (taken from Dave Ramsey, the creator of Financial Peace and whose 8 week course we took 5 years ago) 3) I add in the elements of the "Serenity Prayer": accept the things that I can not change, change the things that I can and have wisdom to know the difference.

I like the idea of involving your children in the decision making of which item to choose. It teaches me (and all of us, I think) a really important lesson that we all will have to learn at some point: life is about choices. Most of us can't have everything we want at the same time although the possibility exists that eventually we can have all that we want.

For example, both my DH and I have decided (a couple of years now) that we won't spend the money on going to a movie (with the popcorn etc) because that costs nearly $36 total. Tickets for the afternoon matinee movies are $8 each. Instead, we would rather go out to eat (although at a carefully selected restaurant where we feel we get good nutritious food at a good value). Also, I haven't had my hair cut professionally in three years. I would prefer to "spend" that money somewhere else. I also color my own hair. I told a professional hairdresser my "situation" and she gave me some tips that they use and I have followed it ever since. Most people think this is my natural hair color but trust me at my age it isn't.

Also, I don't mind going without having a professional hair cut. I just make sure my style is really simple to maintain but I do miss having someone else color it. I have arthritis in both my shoulders and it hurts to do the upper back sometimes. Still, I am saving myself between $40-70 every 6 weeks when I do it myself. Again, money that can be spent somewhere else.

So, my budget is about deciding what we can cut out that we won't miss. I bring this up about two or three times a year because things do change. We have gone through periods without having (paid) t.v. (the only way we can get reception). Right now, we do have paid t.v. reception but then we also remind ourselves that going to the movies (as much as the line up looks really good this season right now) is out of the question. It is about choice.

I don't go shopping at all simply because I know that if I even have 5 cents in my pocket I will find something (whether I need it or not) to spend it on. This is the same method I use with food: out of sight and out of mind. Still, this year, I told my DH that I really missed just seeing all of the holiday decorations in the malls. So, sometimes, I realize that I have to re-evaluate what I am also cutting out when I cut out money-related experiences.

I do like to check sites out on the internet though and, yes, it does become hard to resist some things. Are there any equivalent free apps that you can download. I would check out sites like Sparkpeople et al that are free sites. I do know that many of them are now starting to have apps that are free. I just am not sure how good they are.

Are you giving yourself anything for Christmas? I hope you do even if it is something small.

Today, my DH got a $20 tip so I told him to spend it at the grocery store. He had change left over when he was finished. We always buy the basic four food groups first before anything else. I rarely buy junk food simply because of the lack of nutrition for the cost. So, actually, being so strapped for cash has been an unseen blessing in terms of eating healthy. I can't afford to eat "poorly" (nutrition-wise)Then, we have a "discount overstock clearance" kind of store near us that we have actually found a lot of "hidden gems" in terms of everything from paint to cans of soup. I realize some people would not shop there but the merchandise is safe, not expired and no dents and we can usually get many things, like whole wheat bread (day old of course) for half price. Every little bit helps.

Have a great day, Pam

Last edited by pamatga : 12-21-2013 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 12-21-2013, 06:26 PM   #18
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Day 3 - eating sitting down - this one has been a bit trickier to work out an equivalent for.

So I thought about what the purpose is of the eating sitting down and I think it is 2 things: to avoid impulse eating; and to make sure I savour what I eat and don't feel deprived.

So my thinking is to address the first one what I do is that with any discretionary spending (ie: not groceries, bills or housing costs) I enter it into my budgeting system and see what it will do to my balance BEFORE I spend it. And for the second one I think I might try a rule of only buying coveted things at a time when I can spend time enjoying them (ie: on the weekend). And that I only ever buy one coveted thing at a time so that I really savour they things I do buy. (Kind of like not bingeing). I also toyed with the idea of having a rule about always finding at least 3 places that sell something to compare prices before I buy something. I think there are lots of times when I could save money by shopping around. Not sure about this one though. I am quite time poor so this might just be creating unnecessary stress. Though given how infrequently I will now be spending discretionary money I might be just fine! I think I will stick with the first 2 for now and add the extra if I need it (though I think I might find I do it anyway).

So - I am putting this straight into practice now. I am going to take my kids to the swimming pool this afternoon (heat wave continues) so I am typing while on hold with the local pools to find out (a) which is cheapest and (b) how much it will cost so that I can enter the cost before I go.
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Old 12-22-2013, 05:05 PM   #19
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ForMyGirls: I do like your analogy of impulse eating (which often happens when you are standing at the counter and just mindlessly eating) and impulse spending. I have always seen a connection between the two in my past. It seems like when I do better with one, I do better with the other and I don't think this is by accident either.

I like your plan that you formulated. Since my DH won't get paid until Christmas Eve and we will be having our big meal then going to Midnight Mass where he will sing, I need to get food on Monday so I am shuffling some sources to do that and only buying what we need for that meal and a day or so afterwards. I will be using credit cards for groceries which is so "not good" but it will be less than $30 on each and I accept that my paying these cards off will continue as planned in spite of this speed bump. As I often say to my DH, it is all about "timing".

It is so weird to hear you talk about such high summer temps when it is so cool in the northern hemisphere. Well, when we all will be complaining about the heat next summer, I know you will be talking about the non-stop days of rain.

Take care, Pam

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Old 12-23-2013, 01:57 PM   #20
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Day 4 - give yourself credit

This requires no translation. And I am thinking it won't be too hard to do either as the credit giving habit is now pretty ingrained.

So, to start the ball rolling - credit for resisting the temptation to buy lunch yesterday rather than packing it as I normally do. Credit for leaving my wallet behind when I went to the movies so that I couldn't be tempted to buy anything. I even left my phone behind so that if i was tempted to ask my partner if I could borrow money I would be able to think "but I can't because I can't enter it into the system before I spend it ". Got a catalogue in the mail from the place I buy shoes (I have difficult feet so I have limited options for shoes and they are stupidly expensive). Chose to throw it away unopened. I won't have $ to buy new shoes for a long long time so why torture myself by seeing what I can't have!
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Old 12-24-2013, 07:07 AM   #21
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Some credits for today:
- made 2 purchases, one if which I entered in before I spent, the other of which I entered in immediately after when I realised I had forgotten to do it before :-)
- when I realised there was an essential Christmas gift I had not yet purchased (gift from older daughter to younger daughter - essential because there was already one from younger to older under the tree!!!) I took it out of my "play money" rather than the increasing the depth of the big black hole. Valuable for me to be learning that if you spend on one thing there is less to spend on other things.

Day 5 today - eating slowly and mindfully. I have been puzzling over this one today. Not sure how to translate that into the world of money. It seems that the purpose is sort of an extension of eating sitting down - ie: it is intended to make sure you stop and enjoy your food. But it is also about giving yourself time to notice you are hungry.

So my best thinking is that the plans I out in place the other day - ie: entering stuff into my budget system before purchase (so that I can see what the after balance will be) and only buying "stuff I want" when I have time to stop and savour and enjoy it - will probably meet these goals. If any lurkers on this thread have thoughts on other ways to translate this day I would love to hear your thinking. For now though it is sleep time for me - after all Santa can't come till we're all dreaming :-)
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Old 12-25-2013, 03:40 AM   #22
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Day 6 - find a diet coach (aka financial responsibility coach)

This one is sorted I think as I will be posting here:-)

Credit for today: in the post Christmas frenzy quiet time when I wanted to watch a movie I hunted for a free one, rather than renting one through itunes. Only a couple of $ saved, but it is a habit worth entrenching!
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Old 12-26-2013, 05:59 AM   #23
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Day 7 - adjust your environment

This one is pretty translatable I think. Basically remove temptation - which for me means avoiding seeing advertising as much as possible (I am such a sucker for marketing - I've been known to buy things I know I don't particularly like just because the packaging has changed and I think it looks cool!) Fortunately I don't watch much commercial TV so I don't get hit by ads there.

Probably the biggest danger zone is emails from companies I have bought from in the past. Particuarly dangerous because buying in that context is a simple as clicking a button. So the plan is to unsubscribe when I next get them. (I think I unsubscrbed from most a few months ago because I was just so sick of unnecessary emails!) There are also a couple of paper catalogues that I have some ended up on the mailing list for. Next time they arrive I will work out how to unsubscribe.

I think I can also work the "change your environment" angle by limiting what money I have available when I am at shops - that is, don't take my credit card with me. At the moment I am safe to take my debit card because tehre isn't any money in the account - but I might need to revisit that down the track.

So - credits for the day: - I spent some time checking out a blog for money saving (the one Maryann sent a link to on the other thread). It doens't feel as much like "home" as here but I think it will be helpful to be chatting to other folks who are adressing the same issues, so I have signed up.
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Old 12-26-2013, 06:17 PM   #24
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ForMyGirls : I took a much needed break from the computer for the past couple of days so I could focus on the holiday and spending time with family and friends. I am glad to be back though.

I think the correlation that I would link between eating slowly and mindfully is pre-planning your purchases. That's how I would take it.

A Major Credit goes out to you in how you met the challenges of going to the movies. Well done!

Well, I am very proud to share that I did not use those credit cards after all to buy groceries. My DH got paid on Christmas Eve (we weren't sure if the accountant would take off earlier--he didn't) and so we bought a limited amount on the night before.

I stayed OP with my food plan over Christmas Eve/Day, pre-planning that, and it just seemed to follow that I would with money as well. I have always loved shopping the day after Christmas (going back decades and decades) because that is when the merchants slash prices on almost everything up to 80% off.

I got several clothing items for myself at 60-75% today but DH walked in as I was "online browsing" and I told him that I wanted to spend what little discretionary money on this rather than something else (for my health---my test strips are the same price). I feel a little sheepish admitting that but I have been so good in monitoring my carbs that I "rationalized" this expenditure. Sabotaging thoughts? Not exactly since I am dong well with my blood glucose right now but still..... tough one to call.

We are going to clothes shopping for DH this weekend. That was also planned.

I too get a lot of paper catalogs which I love to look at and which I have been in the habit of throwing them out for the past couple of months. I am going to look into unsubscribing to them. It is such a waste when I do most of my shopping online anyway. The one thing that I am most proud of is that I did not spend a nickel using a credit card this Christmas. In fact, I haven't used a credit card in over a month and then it was for something under $20. I did give my DD $50 cash for Christmas as planned. My DH and I do not exchange gifts so we just buy whatever we wish when we feel we can afford it. I did toy with the idea of a movie but they are just so plain expensive that I decided to stay home after all.

We got a gift card from his parents so we are going to use that on groceries this coming weekend.

Keep up the good work! Pam

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Old 12-27-2013, 04:37 AM   #25
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What an awesome post from you, Pam! I am sooooo impressed by the way in which you have not only stayed on track but exceeded your goals! I know so well that awful feeling when you realise that you have to use the credit card for essentials - so to have dodged that bullet must be a tremendous feeling - especially when it means you have not had to break a month long "haven't used the credit card" streak. Well done you!

I like your thinking about 'slowly and mindfully' translating into 'pre-planned'. My only hesitation is that I think there is a 'plan ahead' coming up. Hmm - will sit on that I think.

Today was Day 8 in the book - making time to diet - or in this instance - making time to do the extra things that will be required to live frugally. I remember finding this hard the first time around and it wasn't any easier this time. I have a plan now but it is kinda scary how little down time there is - basically my days are scheduled in 15 minute slots from 6am to 10pm Monday to Friday and half of Sunday. For the last 6 months I have been keeping a bit more time up my sleeve on weekdays and have lots of tasks to achieve on Saturday but have been finding that I arrive at Saturday absolutely knackered and then really resent having things I need to do. So the new model involves very little downtime during the week and a Sunday morning of housework but the saving grace of a Saturday that is a day of rest.

For all the scariness of it it was kind of reassuring to see just how tight my timetabling is - it makes me understand why my plan to get out and play outside with my kids is so damn hard to achieve. I thought it was just ebcause I was slack - but apparently it is because if I waste half an hour in my day there literally isn't time.

I am on leave until the end of January so it will be a little while until I have to reality check this timetable. Here's hoping it works.

That has been a long ramble. I realise I need some credits before I sign off - well, credit for doing the "finding time" task. Also credit for realising that I don't need to renew my postal redirection (we moved 12 months ago). Instead I can send emails to any service providers etc that don't yet have our current address - which is free, instead of $85.
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:00 AM   #26
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Day 9 in the book. Choose and exercise plan. Initially I thought - "this is totally untranslatable". Then I got to thinking - probably the equivalent is that to really make an impact on my financial life I need to acquire more frugal habits - I need to buy generic brands, shop at lower cost grocery stores, use discount vouchers and cook what is in the fridge rather than throwing food away.

Whoa did I get a bunch of bite back from that. "But the food won't taste as nice" - "it will take too long because there are always some things you can't get at the discount store" - "you're restricting your food options enough already and now you're telling me I can't even choose WHICH healthy foods I eat" - a rather alarming "but I'm not that kind of person" (it seems like somewhere deep inside me there is a snob. Not thrilled to discover that!) - and the old age favourite "but I don't want to!"

Got caught up in the rest of my day so haven't made any cards yet but I will tomorrow - this was a bunch of really strong reactions so they need to be dealt with or they will keep undermining me. And as I type I realise I have had the same reactions to suggestions some of you fine folk have made here on the boards and in private messages - wonder whether that is the same stuff going on. And now as I type I'm thinking this is the same stuff that once made me scared to tell people I was "on diet". Such interesting insights. Well and truly time for bed though so I shall let those insights sink in a bit more overnight. I think I might give myself a second day on this step - it seems like there is plenty of thinking to be done about it.
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Old 12-29-2013, 04:04 AM   #27
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Hello coaches (and lurkers),

I have decided to move this discussion to a separate forum that is focused on money issues (and am spreading the word about the amazing Beck books while I'm there :-)). If you would like to keep reading my thinking you can check it out at the link below:

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/....php?t=4853785
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Old 01-10-2014, 05:06 AM   #28
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Thanks for the link! And for the whole discussion. I'm one of those lurkers :-) I haven't read through the entire thread yet, but I did notice it before and was very interested. I was just initially a bit confused because I didn't know what Beck Diet Solution is :-)

Anyway, I do think that there are a lot of similarities between how we spend and how we eat. I took a step yesterday which made me very happy: I'm placing 10% each month into investments. It made me feel like a proper adult! :-) So now I'm really interested in actually making a monthly budget to see how I spend the money and how much do I need to get where I want to be. I realized that I have never really had any clue on any of that. It's just been a very vague feeling. I can't even visualize having what I need when I don't know what I need.

I'll come back later to read through this thread and then I'll move onto the other site as well :-)
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