Posted by: Hannah | 12/06/2012

being grown ups

You’ll remember that we recently took a deep breath and started putting aside money every week into labelled jars, to try and keep our credit cards and line of credit at zero (a number that looks delightful every time I see it, but one that was hard to spot after the advent of Baby G and resultant income loss).

I would link directly to that post, but once again WordPress doesn’t seem to be letting me use links, so here it is: https://hodgepodgeandstrawberries.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/spendy-spendy/

In the last two weeks, the jars have paid off in a big way.

First, our water treatment system needed its annual service. We are on well water here, and like everyone in our immediate area we suffer with terrible water. It’s got iron, manganese, and arsenic in non-legal levels, as it comes direct from the well. We have a $7000+ system in place to treat it, and when it finally comes through the tap after going through two suspension tanks, a potassium permanganate bath, a water softener, and three filters, it is clear, clean, and safe.

The annual service this year ran $632.50

AND WE HAD ALL OF IT IN THE JAR MARKED ‘HOUSE’.

Every other time we’ve had them out for a service, it’s gone on my credit card and sat there for months, accruing interest and stressing me out.

Then today, Michael took his car in to have the snow tires put on. The mechanic called to say that the front control-arm bushing needed replacing, which would also require an alignment, and did we want to do that today? I counted up the money in the jar marked ‘car’ and hey presto!

THE MONEY WAS ALL THERE.

Also this month, I paid the power bill a full ten days early, and the cell phone bill early, too. We just paid the cable bill, I don’t get paid again until next week, but we still have more than enough cash in our savings account for regular day to day stuff.

Am I bragging? Maybe a little. But mostly I’m sharing the incredible relief I feel that this simple change we’ve made is working. We have always been able to keep on top of our ‘regular’ expenses, but just one off-the-books expense sent us into a tailspin.

And every time we had to pay car repair, or home repair, or vet bills with a credit card, I felt like a failure. A failure because we were living beyond our means. A failure because we actually weren’t doing OK. We were frantically dog-paddling, and sinking fast.

It feels good to know that we are getting ahead of things. We’re also putting aside money into long-term savings every month, and while it could probably stand to be more, at least it’s not nothing. We’re starting to talk cautiously about more ambitious plans for fixing up the house.

This grown-up thing doesn’t suck, you know?

 

 

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Responses

  1. Fantastic!! We’ve been barely scraping by for years, mostly living debt-free but not comfortably. We’ve had to make some difficult choices and put off some pretty major repairs, etc., because the money just wasn’t there. A big part of our problem is our past choices; getting my DVM degree was freakin’ expensive, and now that I’m a SAHM, I’m not bringing in anything to offset those student loans. Anyway, I love hearing stories of how people make this whole grown-up, manage-the-money thing actually WORK without all the nail-biting and robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul.

    • It’s been a long road, and there is a much, much longer story behind it, particularly with regards to how we ended up in our current home. And when Michael’s father died three years ago, he left an inheritance that is helping us, too. Basically we couldn’t have had a third child without it, so Baby G is our gift from him (and it’s why his middle name is my FIL’s first name). But that being said, we were still living paycheck to paycheck and we never could seem to account for where the money was going.

      The jar system is SO EASY. Michael gets paid weekly, so on his payday he brings home a pre-determined amount in cash and we literally spread it around between the jars. We don’t skip weeks and we never ‘borrow’ from one jar to cover another. So far, it’s working. And the best part is, we now KNOW where our money goes.

  2. I need to get BF in on something like this. Everytime I say the words “budget” he freaks the hell out, but then freaks out when we pay bills on rent pay and have nothing left. Or he goes and buys stuff we don’t need…but I’m only pulling in a few hundred a month and don’t feel I can say anything…we need a budget tho. I’m gonna have to nag come January because I LOVE the zero balance feeling, and I know he would too. Good for you guys-this is something to be proud of!

    • Thanks. It’s funny, we don’t use the ‘budget’ word, either. I think people hear it and immediately envision eating cat food & clipping coupons. Feel free to tell him that this actually given us MORE money to spend on fun stuff – because we plan for that, too. Each week, both Michael and I take an amount that’s just for us – we can spend it on any damn fool thing we please, without consulting with the other person. He takes more because he earns more, which is only fair (although he needs to buy work lunches out of that, if he chooses to not take a packed lunch, for example). Right now I have a wee little stash of uncommitted spending money and it feels AWESOME.

      • I’m going to set myself a plan of attack and go from there. Our actual expenses really are NOT that big right now (car payment/insurance, rent, food , hydro and credit cards) Bbut if we could pay off the credit cards and actually devote the extra cash to saving, it would rule. I know the money is there-I showed him that. It just needs to be managed.

        And ME helping him do that means hell is currently freezing over. I just hate the stress when I know we’re frittering money away when we could be saving for a downpayment on a house, a new bike for him, etc.

  3. I say three cheers for “living within your means!” It’s a concept that doesnt get enough traction these days. Living in boom and bust town Calgary we are surrounded by people who just want more more more and dont think about what will happen when they can no longer afford what they DO have. We’ve always tried to live slightly below our means and its served us well so far.

    • Calgary would be a weird place to try and live responsibly, from all that I’ve heard. It’s like the whole town is a fat person on a diet – when they break, they eat ALL THE THINGS until it makes them sick and they feel sorry later. 🙂

  4. Well done.

    And why shouldn’t you brag — you’ve accomplished something worthwhile over a long period of time. That’s huge.

  5. Yay! Good for you, and it’s encouraging to hear financial success stories.

    We are reasonably careful and prudent, but I’m aware there are ways we could do better. I love the jar idea, but we purposely buy as much as possible on a credit card as we use the points towards flights (and that was what made an interstate family trip a reality last year).

    We do have multiple accounts (daily, savings, big household expenses, etc), but I’m just now wondering if there’s an app that allows us to do an electronic version of the jars – so that we know exactly what we can spend before we whip out the credit card. Hmm. Worth exploring, I suspect. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing about how well this is working for you! 🙂

    • One of my Twitter friends mentioned that she has an electronic version of the jars through ING bank… I might investigate that myself. I admire people who have the discipline to live on credit cards to collect points or air miles. I have learned a sad, sobering thing about myself, and it’s that I shouldn’t have a credit card. I’m not good with them. I’ll keep one, so that I can have a credit rating, but I have to be very careful with it and diligent about paying the balance every month.

  6. Go you! PH being a banker, he insists on us using a credit card for all day to say purchases so we get the points (my father, a retired banker, also functions this way) and just pays it off as we go. I know he’s sitting there at work tracking our purchases (to te point where on my day off I’m likely to get a text asking if I enjoyed my McDonalds) but it makes me nervous and we do sometimes still spend beyond our means.

  7. Go ahead and brag. We’re not doing very well on this front and I can use the good example. Also, I love the snowflakes floating by as I type this.

    • The WordPress snowflakes may be the only ones I get this December. It’s been so warm and rainy.


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