Friday, October 27, 2006

Spending diet

Over at The Ice Floe PeripateticPolarBear has been on a spending diet. I am not sure of the details, but I think it was something like no frivolous spending for a month. No books. No shoes. No magazines.

I commented that since I started tithing, I, too, would need to address my spending habits. There are a few things that need to change.

First, I have been buying everything with a check card. I almost never use cash. How easy it is to hand over the card and let the imaginary elves do their work in the cash register. (Why is it even called that anymore?) At the end of the month I look at my statement and it is a financial mine field. None of the individual purchases ever seem like much... $22.73 at CVS, $16.58 at Borders, etc. etc. But together, they add up to a LOT of money every month. I either need to start paying with cash or I need to start writing down the transactions when I make them. A spending diary of sorts, perhaps.

Second, we have a bunch of monthly expenses that are unnecessarily high. Our cable bill, for example, recently ballooned to something like $75 a month. $40 of that was high speed internet. Another $13 was HBO. AND we were paying $18 a month for Netflix, which frankly was a complete waste of money because most of the time I would forget to return the dvds so we would be spending the money every month for the same two movies, which were sitting in our tv cabinet.

So yesterday I downgraded the internet access to the lowest, slowest level, got rid of Netflix and am going to get rid of the HBO. Almost $50 bucks a month just like that.

Next- eating out. We usually eat dinner out at least twice a week. I figure if we eat one of those meals at home, we can save about $30 or $40. I have been doing amazing things with leftovers, lately, LOL! One night I roasted a pair of chickens. The next night we had homemade chicken pot pie and the night after that kale, white bean and linguica soup with homemade chicken broth. This does not feel like poverty, people.

All of this is to say that there are plenty of areas where we have been wasting money. Areas where the belt tightening is going to be a matter of adjusting our behavior, but won't, as far as I can see, be much of a hardship. (The new internet speed, for example, is a barely noticeable difference... and yet I am saving $15 per month.)

The biggest change for me, since starting tithing last week, is that I am really aware of the fact that all the money I have is all a gift from God. I feel more like a steward than an owner. I am more willing to spend it carefully because it has been entrusted to me to do so. This shift is astounding to me. I have struggled with finances for my entire adult life. And while I don't think this is going to be a magic bullet, I do believe that something is changing here. I am so grateful to God for showing me the way out of my financial insanity. Who knew it would be something as simple as giving all my money to him? Ha!

Beloved, in this and in all things I put my trust in you. Let me walk in faith. Let me seek to know your will. Let me share the bounty of your love with others.


Nancy said...

I know what you mean about the card. I buy everything with my Discover card to get the "cashback bonus points" and pay it off each month to avoid interest. I do dread the day the bill comes though!

Anonymous said...

Last time I bounced a check I was so enraged and humiliated (I think it was a three bounce pile up), I decided I had to slow things down a bit. So I sliced up all of my bank and credit cards and put the scraps in a light blue enamel piss pot my neighbor had given me. Her plumber found it in her bathroom ceiling and thought it was a soup pot! Anyway I keep it on display in my bookcase. Making it hard to have easy cash available has helped me to slow the cash flow. I only write checks.