Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Frugal Files: There's no "I" in Spend

Hello folks!!

Frugalicious Diva here to check on your progress!! How did Project LIFE, Part Lifestyle go for you? Did you cook all your meals and use what you had? That should have saved you a pretty penny in your grocery budget. What about physically? Did you have some low costs associated with your low impact (or high impact) workout? I know you had a great time scraping the hardened Playdoh off the table with the kids!!
Great, so since you took the first set of challenges, I’m sure you’re eager to see what else you can frugally do in October. It is such a great time of year. It’s not too hot, but not too cold either. It’s a nice time to still enjoy outside family activities and the greatest thing about it is it can stay simple. There are really no complications in the fall season. You just grab a jacket and go.
This week we’re going to focus on the “I” in LIFE, which stands for Internal Thoughts. Ask yourself why you might overspend or spend money you don’t have? Or what makes you think carrying debt is okay for you and your family? How do you feel about living a frugal life or even managing your finances?

Challenge #1: Write it down. EVERYTHING. For the full seven days, track your spending. If you purchase a ticket in the office lottery, write it down; if you receive an unexpected influx of money, write that down too. Whatever comes in or out, put it on paper so you can get an accurate account of your spending and saving habits. Even if you’re transferring money to your savings, consider it an expense and calculate it on your budget sheet.
Challenge #2: If you want to take your challenge one step further, try the envelope system. I’m not the biggest fan of this method, but many people have told me it works and I do like the premise of it. For me though, I don’t like carrying cash because it’s hard for me to personally keep track of it, but if it works for you, then this is a great system for you!! Usually, this is done for the month, but because we’re taking baby steps, we will see how this works for you, just this week. If you like it and feel you can add it to your personal frugal files, then you can try it for the remainder of the month.
Here’s how it works. Since you already have a budget and knows what comes in and out of it, then this should be a good challenge for you. Grab an envelope for every spending category you plan to use this week. Some examples would be utilities, food, gas, allowance. Get your total amount for the week in cash and place the designated amount in each one. Then as that expense comes up, pay for it ONLY using that envelope. Once the month is gone, it’s gone. No borrowing from other envelopes allowed!!
If you find there is more money left over, then CONGRATULATIONS!! You are Frugalicious!! The extra money is not a reward or an incentive, but it is a gift. Put it in your savings, so that it can be the gift that will keep on giving…in interest!! Better yet, add the extra to one of your debts!!
Challenge #3: Journal your feelings. This is also writing it down, but this is not just about the money, it’s about your self-talk. For one week, journal or blog about your thoughts, making the focus about money. Track the times you want to spend; jot down what you’re feeling and the reasons you want or actually spend money.
My confession: I have found that when I want to change something in my life, I get the urge to spend. When I don’t properly allocate my money, I subconsciously want to spend it. Also, when it comes to food, even if I have a full refrigerator, I find I want to dine out. It’s when I know I have become overwhelmed and I am looking for a release or a way to distract myself from focusing on the task at hand.
Because I know those are my internal issues, I know how to combat them. I stand back, look at the task at hand and break it up in smaller pieces. Sometimes, I will cut off the rest of the world and force “me time” on myself. It’s how I deal with taking on the world and when I put myself first, I don’t feel the need to spend unnecessarily.
So are you ready for this week’s challenge? Go forth and make those inner thoughts, positive thoughts!! 
Frugalicious Diva

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