Okay, maybe brilliance is too strong a word, but I am defintely getting our spending under control and that's a wonderful feeling. For the first time in years, our credit card statement was only two pages long (and not even two full pages at that). Before you start looking skeptical, we pay off our balance every month, so the credit card statement reflects almost all of our expenses except for the mortgage and utility bills. Taking it down from 3.5 pages to 1.75 pages is awesome--but that's a lot of money we've been spending each month unnecessaily. I'm not going to dwell on that, though.
My new month-at-a-glance financial calendar was a lifesaver this month. Not only could I see when expenses were coming, I could also quickly and accurately tell you how much we'd spent for the month at any given moment. When you're confronted every day with the daily tally of your expenses, it's far less easy to justify a little expense here and there.
A little research also helped us make our budget target. There is a long list of home improvements that Tom and I want to make this spring. We went to Lowe's, found the items we wanted to purchase, wrote down their costs, and stuck the list on our refrigerator (Who knew that it would become the financial nerve center in this house?). Then I took the list and divided our expenses into financially managable chunks of about $300/month. I allocated that money out on the calendar and counted it into our monthly total.
Since the new credit card cycle rolled around on the 12th, I went ahead and purchased all of the expenses we'd already allocated (how fun to go on a little shopping spree!). I purchased a shore excursion for our upcoming cruise--jungle biking in Belize, medication for the dog, and started looking online for bathroom light fixtures for the master bath-this month's project.
Tom and I had allocated about $160 for a pair of new light fixtures. I found an equally attractive set online for less than $40 each and free shipping. Then I went onto http://www.retailmenot.com/ (a website that provides coupon codes for various online retailers) and found a code at this store for 10% off. So I ended up paying $63.46 for two light fixtures at a savings of almost $100. I rock!
And since the money was already allocated, I felt no guilt whatsoever spending $50 on party supplies for John's first birthday party in May. And I still had $40 left I hadn't planned on.
We've allocated $65 dollars for some bathroom accessories (towel bars, rings, toilet paper holder, etc), but it turns out Tom has a $100 amazon.com gift card, and he won't be using all of it on the electric nail gun he'll be getting himself, so we'll be able to roll the rest towards the new fixtures and only pay the difference.
For once one of my plans is working out well. Why didn't I think of this sooner?