The truth about our finances: Part II (and the challenge you should take today)

Hi. Let’s just pick up where we left off after I confessed our financial sins and started a new financial lifestyle on August 4th.

Remember when I said I’d be as honest as I could possibly (and comfortably) be? Well, here’s where I’m going to get painfully honest, my precious peeps. I’m about to reveal where our money went in the month preceding my August 4th revelation.

*Gulps wine.
*Slams glass.

I’m not going to mince words or lead you all on. Here it is. Right here:

spending

Believe me when I say that I am ashamed. When I tallied our spending from July 4th to August 4th, my second instinct (after consummate shock) was disgust.

We spent over $1,000 on things we probably didn’t need. 

To be fair, budgeting a little to eat out is reasonable. So it’s not like 100% of this money went toward worthless items. And we hit the DG for things like milk and water when we run out. Some of the Amazon purchases were justified – new shoes for the boy, for example, when he outgrew his old ones. However, the chances that we spent over $150 in one month on milk and water are slim. The bulk of our Amazon spending was from the purchase of a wireless Bose speaker. When I suggested that this may not have been a necessary purchase, in hindsight, Hubs put his big hairy foot right down and made the following speech:

“I will defend that purchase until the day I die. It brings me joy.”

Regardless, if you factor in a budget for fun items and eating food out each month, I think we can all agree that spending over $1,000 on items so gratuitously useless and unnecessary to survival is a bit extreme. When I tell people how much we spend on eating out, they usually try to help me justify it  by immediately asking, “Yeah, but what’d you spend on groceries? I bet you just don’t spend a lot on groceries.”

People can be so sweet. So empathetic. So caring and helpful. And naive.

No, friend, we actually still spent the normal amount on groceries. But thanks.

The truth is we were just plain lazy.

Time is money too. Time has value, sure. Sometimes we’d use the ol’ time-is-money logic to justify eating out. Eating out means no prep, no planning, and no dishes to do. Instant gratification, oh yeah. And that’s more time with the kids, right? And we have so many other things to do, and there’s just no time, time, time I tell you! But the flip-side to that logic:

  1. Eating out all the time basically ensures that every fresh vegetable in your fridge spoils before you get a chance to eat it. The cheese molds. The bread molds. And you throw out perfectly good food. It’s abhorrently wasteful, which is shameful.
  2. We continued to spend lavishly on other junk, which had no contribution to time-saving. I surmise that whatever I bought at T.J. Maxx that month did little to save precious time. In fact, it probably required me to remove tags and scrape price stickers off, thereby costing me time.

In addition, saving this money over just a two month period could have paid for at least half of a really awesome vacation. Or it could have been invested in an ETF. Or put into savings. Or applied to a student loan. Or, or, or…

I can think of a hundred things I would have rather spent $1,000 on. 

I want to close out this post on a high note. Here is the good news, and also the truth, about our finances. I’m proud of these little wins. A lot of folks are starting off with a far greater mountain to climb.

wins

We have one credit card – a rewards card – that we use for certain expenses and pay it off monthly. The kids’ savings accounts are meager, but they exist. I’m not bragging or trying to compare. I simply acknowledge the privilege of our current position, nutso spending and all, and want to be truthful about it, while recognizing that we had been missing the mark for years. Also, continually bashing yourself without celebrating your successes is a recipe for failure.

Are we in a pretty decent spot? I think so. Do we have work to do? YES! But we can do it, and so can you!

I challenge you to do one simple thing that will take less than an hour but could change your life.

Okay, that was a little dramatic, but it DID change my life!

Itemize your expenses for just one month. One month is all it takes to light a fire under your ass give you a glimpse into your habits.

  1. Record every expense into the correct bucket (don’t forget to include your bank account and any credit cards you may have!)
  2. Tally
  3. Take a few minutes to consider what you would have rather spent that money on, or what you could have saved.

I’d love to hear your results in the comments! Did you find any fat to trim? In the meantime, happy saving! And I am so excited to share with you in the upcoming weeks what my favorite go-to resources are for staying financially inspired, the results of the months following August 4th, a few unexpected benefits I’ve experienced since starting this journey, and a few hard lessons I’ve already learned.

Are you trying to get financially fit too? I’d love for you to follow along by subscribing! You can join me on Instragram or Pinterest too, so you don’t miss a post! I write about more than just personal finance ya know.

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8 thoughts on “The truth about our finances: Part II (and the challenge you should take today)

  1. Dianne says:

    Although you only give yourself a trifle bit of credit for these items, I’d say you are miles ahead because of them: Contributing to your 401K (maximum) each year! Also having NO credit card debt. You are already doing well in this column and just continuing that will mean huge gains by the time you are my age! We never had the money to do either, or the accts. for our kids. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. Just looking at my finances is a huge beginning for me. I used to do it all, but had to hand the reins over to hubby after ill health demanded it. Now, I’d rather have a root canal than do bills. I appreciate somebody like you being able to get thru my thick head and teach me to be more responsible before it’s too late. Thanks, Chris. Again, great article. – Dianne

    • Incredulous Mom says:

      Thanks for the encouragement! It’s easy to get down on ourselves sometimes, but we thankfully do have some things going for us! (I hate doing bills too, so most come out automatically!) The savings accounts for the kids – hoo boy, I wish they had more in them, but we’re working on it! I just gotta keep my eye on the pie!
      Thanks again for reading! 🙂

  2. fitmommyinheels says:

    If I wrote down what I was spending my money on, I’m sure I would cry lol. I should really do this because I’m a serious overspender in non-important things!!!

  3. binaperino says:

    As a 22-year-old college student, I could seriously use some budgeting help! I’d love to be able to handle my money better as soon as possible before graduating and having to pay back my student loans. This is really great advice and I will definitely be trying this!

  4. hdiakandru says:

    This is so true! We were shocked when we added up every time we grabbed a bite to eat or cup of coffee. I’m a travel blogger and so many people complain about not being able to afford vacations– but it’s possible if you are diligent!

  5. hebahpervaiz says:

    I am absolutely terrified about going to university for this very reason… budgeting and finances! Sounds difficult staying on top of them..

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