How are you doing with January's well-toasted resolution to tighten your budget? I'd love to scream megaphone-style that my pennies are accounted for and I have no doubt about our bank account numbers, but I'd be an even bigger phony than I already am. My get-back-on-financial-track resolution completely tanked about three weeks ago and I'm back to my old habits of spending whatever, whenever, until my sweet Hubs kindly informs me that we're out of money and to "please stop shopping".
I've looked long and hard into the mirror and realized that I'm my biggest financial woe. And the biggest flaw in all of it is my inability to stick with a plan.
As a stay-at-home-mom of two and a half children, I think about money quite a bit. Or about saving more of it, to be more exact. The problem is I stink at it. And I've been a bit of a liar about my spending habits, especially among fellow moms. Here's what I know to be absolutely true about how I use our resources each month (even though I'd rather not admit it):
Because I'm rarely honest with myself about what I truly spend, and can't make a cash envelope system work to save my life, I'm opting for a dangerously awesome solution that just may keep our family on track.
Live off gift cards for an entire month.
That means every variable purchase in our budget will use a shiny faux-credit card. So I'll buy clothing, food, gas, yard supplies, online purchases, caffeinated beverages and diapers using discount gift cards.
What's the point?
There are four, so, since I used to teach junior high kids, here they are in outline form in order of increasing importance:
1. Buying gift cards ahead of time will force me to plan my purchases and where I intend to buy them. This is a fancy way to trick myself into bargain hunting without being aware of it, especially for larger purchases.
2. When the gift card runs out, we starve. I hate to see starving children. It would stink if my kids ran out of food. Big motivation to stay on track.
3. I'm much more thrifty with my gift cards than I am with MasterCard. I'm banking on that alone helping us reign in spending.
4. I can actually save money buying and using gift cards--not just talk about it during playdates, but actually save cash at the end of the month. Here's how buying other peoples unwanted gift cards runs and why it works:
Ready or not, here I go with the Gift Card Challenge! Staying on my financial track is all in the cards. We're conquering finances one plastic rectangle at a time.