Monday, January 30, 2012

Frugal February

Kapow!  Splat!  Whaaaaah!  That is the sound of our household taking a major financial hit or two or three this past year.  Surgeries, exploding pipes, and unexpected losses combined to make 2011 the Year of the Disappearing Dollar.  PTSD hit, sending us back to the 80s with 16% inflation and fear of layoffs.  Only this time, we didn't have the luxury of years ahead of us, the belief we would forever be in good health, or a new car.  Something had to be done.

We signed up for "Financial Peace University," a Dave Ramsey-created program held in churches throughout the country.  Man O and I figured having a third person lead a discussion about money was better than fighting over who would get to lead the money discussion in our household.  Dave Ramsey is a teacher who tackles money issues with humor. His goal is to get folks out of debt and he pulls no punches.  His motto is "Live like no one else so you can LIVE like no one else."  We weren't sure what to expect but class members shared similar concerns about money or were facing far worse challenges.  We felt confident we could follow the program. So far so good.

Snip. Whaaaah!  Snip. Whaaah!  After lesson two, that is the sound of us looking at the budget and making adjustments.  Man O spends that much on trains? Grandma Juju spends how much on the grandchildren? It was painful but necessary. We have been fortunate over the years to be able to save for retirement but as our bodies, house, and cars age, big ticket expenditures loom. Our budget was examined under a microscope and endured amputations across all categories. Still it wasn't enough.

So we are doing Frugal February.  No impulse buys.  That means no Target runs.  No big entertainment plans.   Man O is taking his lunch more. I am using my A.C. Moore certificate to buy blank cards to cover with already purchased papers. Meals have to be created out of the pantry with the exception of Valentine's Day. But our romantic dinner will still be homemade.  My mother is probably turning over in her grave as I type "no new clothes."  Thank goodness the circus tickets have already been bought and my hair cut is  January 31st.

My word for the year is "Learn."  I have learned a lot in the past few weeks and expect to learn more in the month ahead. Writing about it is my way of staying accountable. Stay tuned.