Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cheap Thrillz: Part One

I thought about actually participating in WIP Wednesday but I only have two WIPs--a baby dress that I haven't made much progress on since I last blogged about it, and a boring angora/wool winter hat for Dr. Mad Scientist. We're talking a 1 X 1 rib and then just stockinette the rest of the way. Yawn! Boy knitting is kind of boring.

Seeing as said Dr. Mad Scientist is working late tonight and it's the Festival of the Hut in Israel and as a pseudo-Jew I'm out of work early--I give you Part 1 of my cheapy tips/journey through Sucky September where we tightened our belts and basically every paycheck I brought home, was set aside for the IRS.

Hitting back on the topic of boring--this post is long and not so picture-y. I won't feel bad if you don't read it all.


A few days after I received the dire news from the IRS, I sat down and I pulled out all of the bills I had waiting to be paid and the ones I knew were going to be cropping up.

Even though all of those bills (car, cable, power, weekly daycare, student loan) weren’t due that day, I wanted that money out of sight out of mind. I then set up the pile of envelopes or checks with little stickie notes as to when I needed to mail them (usually a week before they were technically due). A few of the payments I scheduled to be automatically deducted from my account—which saves you 41 cents a check!

Bottom line—a soon as I wrote those checks, out of my balance they were deducted. I ignored what the bank said I had and went off of what I had left after all those checks were written. This gave me an amount to work with for other non-billed expenses.

Removing Temptation

The second step was removing temptation to spend. Dr. Mad Scientist, oh how I love him, but he’s just like his mother and his siblings—money burns holes in their pockets!

When we lived in Michigan and the ATM machine (or MAC machine if you roll like that…) ruined his card and we were too lazy to get it replaced, life was good. I’d give him a weekly allowance and he’d spend it.

Rinse, repeat.

Cut to our Michigan-Texas separation and now him working in La Manzana Grande. He was easily pulling anywhere from $60-100 a week. To be fair, some weeks it was not that much, but other weeks it definitely was that much. I grumbled about it (trust me!) but I let it go on. What the hell was he buying? Beats me. Sodas, lunches, dinners, bikini waxes*? Whatever it was, it was quite a bit.

So I took away his credit card and ATM card and we went back to the allowance system. $40 a week for him and sometimes me. On Friday I would pull ½ of his allowance and on Monday the other half (from our bank's ATM to avoid service charges of course). This helped him budget it out better. Like I said—money burns holes in his pockets.

He got to spend his allowance on whatever he wanted.

Remember how I air-dryed our clothes the Saturday we received the notice from the IRS? The following two weeks Dr. Mad Scientist gave me 75 cents from his allowance to dry the clothes. Hee hee. Apparently he likes his underpants downy soft.

With the allowance system, this meant that our debit cards and our credit cards stayed at home. They only came out when a.) it was an allowance pulling day b.) he needed to buy his weekend train ticket or monthly subway pass (a portion of those expenses are reimbursed pre-tax thru Mt. Sinai ) or c.) I needed to fill my tank with gas—a once a week occurrence.

I put our cards someplace where I knew he wouldn't find them, but someplace where I wouldn't forget about them.

In with my knitting mags...

...which was then hidden by a picture.

WOW! You should see my credit card bill!

There’s nothing on it but what I qualify as necessary expenses. There’s no charges to McDonalds, Subway, 7-11, Duane Reid, etc. And my bank statement didn’t make me want to scream at Dr. Mad Scientist.

I’m so proud of him for limiting himself.

I was usually able to get away with $20 a week.

From my allowance I also paid for the laundry ($5.00) and my fresh produce vice.

I’m not sure if this is really a vice or not, but I spend easily $10 a week across the street at the farmer’s stand buying tomatoes and fruits for Chunky’s lunch. This past week I splurged on a ½ gallon of apple cider ($2.50).

One week I spent nearly my entire allowance on beads for my balls. (Hee hee, I said balls.)

But that’s the beauty of an allowance. You only get X amount per week. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. It makes you think about what you really want.

Do I want to buy that $1.50 bottle of Diet Coke on Tuesday leaving me with just $2.00 left until Friday? Hmmm…

Leaving the credit cards and debit cards at home was also liberating. Yes, it’s possible an emergency could come up and I would need them, but I still had my checkbook, and there are Banks of America everywhere. If I had really needed money, I could have gotten money—the same went with Dr. Mad Scientist.

Up next: Food

*No, my husband does not engage in genital-area waxing. Do they even call bikini waxing for men? Do men even have that area waxed??

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Blogger Zonda said...

Great ideas here! Sounds like they worked for you guys too! Hoping sucky September is over soon enough for you guys!!!

5:34 PM  
Blogger T. Budnik said...

I think there are men who bikini wax--or at least they trim up.

Sweet tips.


5:39 PM  
Blogger IrishgirlieKnits & PashyKnits said...

You had to put that last part in just to make sure we read all the way through and keep us laughing!

Great tips!! Ummm...after my fiber festival frenzy...need to tighten the budget again. Like the idea of leaving the credit cards at home!! Its soooo true!

6:11 PM  
Blogger Poops said...

Of course men have their stuff waxed! It's called "manscaping"...

6:15 PM  
Anonymous HappyPiranha said...

I cringe to confess that I know this, but if a guy gets waxed, you know, down there, plus his back hair, it's called "back, sack, and crack". Eeeeee-yewwwwww!

7:17 PM  
Blogger janna said...

Poops! Manscaping! That's hilarious!

Great tips -- it is amazing how little cash you spend when you don't have it on you. And I pay all of my bills except my rent electronically. Not only does it save on stamps (I figure I save $7 a month, which is lunch one day), but I also don't have to pay for checks - I use my debit card instead of writing checks at the grocery store, etc. A lot of months, my only check is the rent check.

Ummm.... sorry... didn't mean to go on and on! And I got my ball today! ;-)

7:19 PM  
Blogger cpurl17 said...

Love the secret hiding spot! I need to hide stuff from myself.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Good tips. I cut up my credit card in January. I realized that I couldn't handle NOT spending. Seems I'm more Mad Scientist than Bezzie :). I agree, though. It's incredibly liberating, and since I don't have a credit or debit card, I have to have cash, which I usually do, but since there's finite amount of it, I'm really more careful about where it goes.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Brena said...

I did something very similar when waitressing in college. I always had cash, and I just put things in envelopes. Now that I have direct deposit and my debit card, I don't think nearly as much...

Maybe I should try the allowence idea!

8:27 PM  
Blogger Eryn said...

Men and bikini wax - a lot trim! When the pubes are shorter, everything is supposed to look bigger.....

9:13 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

I need to leave my card at home too! The dollar here and there are killing me.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Tactless Wonder said...

My credit card bill scares me sometimes. Usually after I've used it to pay for a dental visit.

I love my allowance. I've been doing that since college. My favorite bit it the knowledge that I've already budgeted that money, technically it's "gone." No guilt spending it that way.

1:08 AM  
Anonymous NikBudnik said...

Obviously your brother did not inherit the thriftiness you did. He also married someone without a cheap-ass bone in her body, not helping in that area at all.
I admire your resolve. We would be in deep Caca if this happened to us. You should be proud of yourself.

6:59 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

You have more willpower than me, Bezzie. I hear you on the spouse's spending. I see the ATM receipts in DH's wallet and he taking money out for incidentals every bleepin' day!

7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live on a $75 - $100 a month allowance for me to spend on whatever the hell I want. I usually try to squirrel hole away $20.00 of it every month for something big later down the line....perfect example would be my spinning wheel that I purchased not too long ago.

My husband gets $675.00 a month, but that also includes all our money for gas, going out to eat, etc. So at the end of the day, he prolly only gets about $250 - $300 to go buckwild crazy with. He his fun money literally goes up in smoke.

You are a woot, and I love you!


8:12 AM  
Anonymous Miss T said...

Of course, he knows where the cards are now, if he reads your blog. :o)

9:31 AM  
Blogger buttercup said...

I have a debit card and that's it. No credit cards for me. I can't be held responsible for what I will do when I have "credit". In my pea brain that means I have extra money to burn. And that's BAD.

I'm really impressed with your techniques! I hope you never have to use them again

11:15 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Men are too wussy to get waxed down there, at least mine is!

Wow, I am impresssed, it's amazing how much money you can waste in a year. We wanted to go to Europe one year and cut out the daily trip to the coffee shop- amazing the savings.

I save a lot on stamps by using the internet for bills, and it's done, not hanging over my head.

11:41 AM  
Blogger weezalana said...

Nicely done! BTW have you tried online bill pay? It's a free service at our bank (and I'd guess it would be at BofA) and it ROCKS. No stamps, no checks, and you really can do it in your underwear. ;)

12:22 PM  
Blogger Magatha said...

Well, some men do, for various reasons I won't enlighten you or your readers about here.
I'll bet Bez changes her hiding place regularly or that 'hiding place' was a stand in for the real spot.
Security is paramount! (or is that 'paranoid'? I get confused. ;)

4:28 PM  
Blogger Calling on Kahlo said...

I remember taking the bus into the city and seeing signs for all body waxing for men for only $65 bucks so I assume some do get that area waxed.

We have been doing the super cheap lifestyle due to the one income right now and the working from the cash on hand is pretty good. We don't eat out.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Yup, not using the ATM card or credit card definitely makes a difference. We use cash becasue our cheapie bank plan only allows so many debit transactions. This way we don't accidentally go over the limit. And spending cash actually makes you think about it, I have found.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Macoco said...

My mother instituted the allowance system with my father when they first got married - and it's stayed that way ever since because it works so well.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous bufanditas said...

Once I start working, the first thing I'm paying off are my credit cards and closing all but one account. Credit and debit cards are convinient but only serve to get you into financial problems if you're not disciplined.

Can't wait for your next installment.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Alisha said...

It is amazing how when you don't have those cards with you what you save.

I hope things get better now for you!!

11:33 AM  

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