Anyone else feeling the chill in the air these days? Blahs all around? I have been hibernating at home, staying warm and planning my savings budget for the year. And watching re-runs of Til Debt Do Us Part, with Gail Vaz-Oxlade. I think Gail is fabulous and her no-nonsense attitude is great. She genuinely wants to help people succeed, even if it means doling out the tough love and making people haul around TVs everywhere they go so they "feel" the impact of their debt (remember that episode?)
Hubs and I recently paid off the remaining balance on our Visa, it is a nice relief to have that done with. Our house Line of Credit and our vehicle loan are our two main debts and the rest is variable spending. Hubs and I live on a "strict cash budget" just as Gail advocates. We have a joint chequing account and from that we each take an allotted cash portion every payday for our own separate spending (fun money), and the rest goes to debt repayment, our bills, groceries, gas, vehicle maintenance, etc. We have been doing this for years ever since Hubs helped me to smarten up about money after we first got married. We used to have separate bank accounts but that didn't work out so well, so we switched everything to joint accounts and haven't looked back since. Hubs created a workable budget to pay off our existing debt yet still have a life. Big lesson learned there..... so much that I joke that Hubs has ruined me in a good way....I hardly ever use my debit card anymore and I only use Visa for online purchases when I have the cash ready to make a payment on the Visa immediately after I've bought something online. I'm practically fanatical about it, I can't rest until I've made the payment. Pardon my antics but trust me, once you learn the lesson, you never forget!
Hubs may be able to go on a work trip to the US in the Spring. If he gets approved to go, I will be able to accompany him on the trip. I am starting to sock some $$ into savings just in case the trip is a go, to pay for airfare and fun spending. If the trip is a no-go, I'll keep the funds in savings anyway.
We would like to have our upstairs rooms painted in the spring or early summer, so we will be saving funds for that. (Neither Hubs and I like painting, nor are we good at it!) We also have money budgeted together for investments and long-term savings, more so now that the Visa has been cleared up.
I have gravitated towards buying quality over quantity these past few years, and I have felt good about saving for items which may cost more initially, but proved to be good purchases in the long run and the items have lasted for a longer period of time. I have generally felt dissatisfied when I cheaped out and bought a subpar item just because it was elcheapo ... .most times I would have to replace what I bought because it wore out quickly, or cheap clothes wouldn't fit properly, or items would become clutter in the house. As one of the elder lawyers at the law firm I work at used to say "when you buy cheap, you pay twice." I believe that is true.
That said, I also believe in the concept of "Saving and Splurging". If you want to splurge on something good (and possibly a bit expensive), try to save money somewhere else. (Hubs and I do this on vacations -- if we want to eat out at a nice restaurant one night, we will have something small and inexpensive for lunch). In our daily lives, we save money by making our coffee at home in the mornings, packing lunches for work as often as we can, using the library for books and DVDs, carpooling together (we share a car). We are getting better at meal-planning so that we don't waste food. It's all about priorities and what is important to you.
One item I really wanted for a long time was a good black leather tote bag. My Mom was shocked to learn how much I paid for my Dooney and Bourke purse (seen here), it was $260.00 US. Mom would never spend that much on one item! She is the queen of deals and hardly, if ever buys something at full price. I explained to her that the bag is an investment piece and it wasn't like I just waltzed into Macy's one day and blew $260 on a purse without blinking an eye. I searched online for different options and saved up the money for months beforehand once I knew which purse I wanted to buy and what brand. Once I was in the store, I inspected the bag for quality and I was not disappointed. I will have the bag for many many years, instead of spending $50 on a bag that becomes ratty and falls apart after one year.....then I would have had to buy a new one. Each year. Been there, done that ...too many times.
Do you have any savings tips to share? Do you have a splurge and save mentality?