When I decided to alter my spending habits, one of the first things I looked at was how I spent my money. Literally. One of the problems I found with always using my debit card was that the money rarely left my account straightaway. This meant there was often a discrepency between my balance and my ‘available balance’. I tried to work out my balance by keeping receipts until the money had left my account (often up to 4 days after purchase) but this was difficult with online purchases. So one of the first things I did on my move to shoestring living was to start doing the majority of my spending with cash. I had been given some really pretty purses for birthdays and at Christmas but never used them as I always carried a wallet with all of my cards etc. I had three purses so I decided to have one purse for food and petrol money, one for my general spending and one for treats.
I find this much easier as I can see exactly how much I have left to last me the month. Also, the act of handing over actual cash makes me much more aware of how much and how often I am spending. Of course, this is different for everyone. I’m sure some people would find the cash would start burning a hole! But for me, this really works.
Right now I know I have £30 left for petrol, £22.58 for general spending and £8 for food. If one fund was running very low while another was high then I would consider switching funds, but I haven’t had to do this yet. The treats purse is for whatever I have left out of these funds at the end of the month. Comically, this purse currently contains exactly £3.00 so it isn’t like I’m going to be going out on a shopping bender anytime soon! However, if it builds up I’ll happily use it to break any of my own rules about what I am and am not allowed to spend on.
Ahem. Speaking of breaking the rules. I’ve decided I’m giving myself a book budget each month. I seems I can stop randomly buying clothes, I can stop buying make-up, I can stop buying face masks/body lotions/posh body washes, I can stop buying magazines, I can stop buying chocolate/crisps during the week and I can stop buying my lunch in the shops. But it appears that I cannot stop buying books. Here’s the rationale: I’m not in debt. I’m not digging myself out of a terrible financial situation – I’m just trying to be more frugal and sensible with my cash. The Shoestring Mission is not meant to be a mission of misery. That said, I’m not giving myself free reign either. So here are my new rules regarding books:
- no more than 2 books a month
- to buy second hand through charity shops or Amazon/similar if I can find the titles I want (and NO express deliveries!)
- to see if my library has it first (then if I like it so much I want my own copy, I’ll get one)
- to buy new if it is an author I want to support. After all, if we don’t buy their books they won’t get any more publishing contracts and we’ll have to live without them
Dealing with cash is quite interesting. I’m using old jars for mini savings funds at the moment. Husband tends to scatter loose change around the house so I’m putting it in all in a jar and I’m not going to count it until it is full. I think I might tuck it away for next time he says he needs something. It is nearly half full already. I also have two other jars for my Holiday and Christmas funds. When they get full I’ll change the coins into notes, keep it elsewhere and start filling the jars again.
I read an interesting post of Holly’s (www.hollyisstoppingshopping.blogspot.com) about some kind of sealed box for £2 coins. This was an idea I really loved and I might have to re-read that post, though with such a tight budget I’m not convinced I’ll have much to spare! There might be a way around it though so I’ll have a think about how I can adapt it to make it work for me.