We're almost at the end of our envelope cash system that we adopted for the month of September per Dave Ramsey's suggestions. I really think it's gone very well and our cash balance is much higher than I realized it could be if we just really evaluated our spending.
The only drawbacks to savings were having a $1200 car repair bill (and another one on the way!!!); a $600 cost for a new computer after the old one crashed; our six month insurance bill and a $250.00 fee for the chicken pox vaccine for ME. But eating out of the pantry, not eating out and really trying to stay home more definitely made an impact on our bottom line for the month. I'm looking forward to seeing what the final balance is at the end of the month (MINUS all the emergency costs that cropped up!)
What I've learned so far:
1. I've learned that I can do without things I think that I absolutely need. I SHOP mostly out of BOREDOM. I need to spend more quality time with my child and less spending money on her and that when I weigh current wants against what I really want in a few years...not spending is much easier.
2. I've also learned that there are things that my family WILL NOT do without. Ice cream and soda are amoung them. I have learned it pays to be prepared and have just a little of those items on hand so that we aren't feeling deprived (and depraved!) enough to run out and buy a huge amount of any of those wants.
3. I've also learned that I can have what I want by making it from scratch. A new dress for Reagan? I have tons of t-shirts and fabric to modify for her. A cheesey pizza? Give me 30 minutes and it's ready. Chinese food? I can cook egg drop soup, fried rice and stir-fry in 30 minutes as well. Even date nights can be super cheap after Reagan is asleep...a movie we own, an iced coffee made at home, good conversation.
4. I've learned there are ALWAYS going to be unexpected expenses that crop up and that's why it's good to build as large of an emergency savings plan as you can. You always have that cushion to fall back on, and quite frankly, it hurts to use that savings, so you learn to really force yourself to choose between wants and needs.
Life doesn't have to be expensive and I have very little that I actually NEED. I'm enjoying learning that lesson. In the next few months I want to focus on spending even less. I'll be posting about it here and there as we make progress towards our ultimate goal (more on that to be posted later too!)