Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Glamorous Life of Living on a Budget

Doesn’t living on a budget seem glamorous in certain ways? Maybe it is just me, but when I read blogs and see fri
ends who are “living simply” I feel this longing to do the same.

So I analyze our spending down to the penny. I make excel spreadsheets and figure out that we spent 26% of our income on diapers and formula and 15% on eating at restaurants. I come up with spending reduction goals and tell Brian that we can each only spend $6 a day.

And then something happens. I like to call it the Romans 7 principle:

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

The day after I make my decree, I stop at Starbucks (because I’ll get a headache without my morning coffee) and get a breakfast sandwich (b/c we were out of

granola bars) and I tell myself it is okay b/c I will eat lunch at my desk and have soup for dinner. And then my coworker says, “Let’s go to Chick-Fil-A” and I say, “OKAY” (b/c who can turn down Chick-Fil-A???). On the way home I stop at Target to pick up something we need and end up spending $150 (b/c I need some more totes to organize baby clothes and eye makeup remover and 17 other things I did not intend to buy) and then I get home and all we have is pasta with no sauce and Oreos so I decide we really must order pizza (b/c I also have to have pizza at least once a week). And then I feel guilty for eating out so much and spending money so I just decide to not look at our bank account until it’s time to pay the bills again and I hope we stay in the black. It is a great system, Right?

As our babies get cuter and cuter (and cuter) and more fun, my desire to stay at home with them increases exponentially. And when we have Baby #3 it will become a necessity (b/c childcare costs are whack and believe it or not, working is actually pretty freaking expensive).

But in order to make that possible we have to be disciplined with our finances in a few ways:

  1. We need to figure out how much money we need to live frugally but not miserably. It is okay to eat out once or twice a week. But we do it a lot more than that. For no good reason.
  2. We need to actually have a budget. Like a real one. That we follow. And are accountable to.
  3. We need to not spend so much money on stuff we don’t need. Like eating out. And eating out some more. And Target.
  4. We need to give more to our church. I am a firm believer that God will bless us when we are cheerful givers and give as an act of trusting Him. It is really easy for me to think of our giving to God as an option when really it should be a priority. But I am admitting here that a lot of times it is not. So I want to get better at that.

I have a renewed focus on all this because we spent a little too much last month and, as a result, we are making June a No Spend Month. I heard about this from my favorite blog, Small Notebook ( and I am looking forward to the challenge. Basically, you don’t spend money on stuff you don’t have to (like eating out, stuff you want but don’t need, trips, activities, etc).

We have talked about it a few times but that’s all it was – talk. So now we HAVE to do it. I think it will be difficult and that a lot of our bad habits will be revealed and tested. But I know that it will be beneficial and if we can actually make it through to the end, we will be better for it. I will keep you posted on our progress.


Elaine said...

wow jenn! a no spending month is amazing. i did that once a few years ago and it taught me a lot about when i really need something or just want it. it was hard but i was also glad i did it. i can't wait to hear how this goes and what you learn. way to go armstrongs!!

Tree said...

I love your honesty! Best of luck on your plan, and I just read... baby #3!? I want some info on that one!! :)