New Year’s Resolutions: Rein In Your Spending

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Want to rein in your spending for the new year? So do we. Check out the methods we're using to do just that.

2015 was a boom of a year for us. A lot of our efforts to increase our income paid off. We had more than enough work, and were very cognizant of how lucky that made us.

Unfortunately, with all that work, we lost something. That something was time. As I wrote about in September, losing that time caused us to spend more on convenience. For the first time in a long while, I found myself thinking, “You really need to rein in your spending.” It wasn’t a habit we were happy with, and we have since taken steps to adjust it.

The process is going okay. Just okay. We sat down to do a yearly budget not too long ago, and we came across something disturbing. We bank separately. And I love that. There are so many pros that it’s not even worth defending against the cons in this post.

But one of those cons is currently discretionary spending. While we both have savings goals that we hit regularly, the influx in income hasn’t been helping us as much as it could. We sat down and communicated anew our calculations to how much each of us was spending per month on day-to-day expenses, and occasional indulgences. It should be noted that the way we budget this category includes things like gas for our cars and baby wipes, but it’s still not a number we’re happy with.

We need to make things even more intense if we want the results we’ve been hoping to achieve. Even currently, neither one of us is a spendthrift, which is why we want to make these changes in the first place: so we can save more.

We’re taking two separate approaches, since both of our relationships with money are healthy, but different from each other. They both aim to rein in spending, but in ways that will work for us as individuals.

His Approach

The husband isn’t into digital money as much as I am. While he doesn’t walk around with large wads of cash, he’s more likely to make purchases with it. He doesn’t rack up large credit card bills, but the spotty digital record also makes tracking expenses a lot harder.

His solution to our problem is going to be pen and paper. He’s going to start carrying around a notebook and logging every purchase he makes. Like balancing a checkbook, just without the checkbook. Then we’ll be able to fully track down to the item, rather than attributing expenses to sweeping broad categories. We’ll compare it against my own spending to see if we’re both spending money on similar things, and find out where we can cut back in each category.

Her Approach

I, on the other hand, am into digital money. You’ll rarely see me pulling out cash. I was out with a friend about a year ago, and we had to stop at an ATM to get cash for one of the places we planned to go. I went to the ATM, but couldn’t for the life of me remember my PIN. It had been that long. She ended up fronting me the money, and I wrote her a check once we got back home.

So my plan involves technology. I’m going to be trying out Moven. I already have a way to track my spending every month as I do have a digital record, but apparently that alone has not been enough to change my behavior.

And that’s the major thing Moven focuses on: behavior. I’m moving my monthly spending budget onto my Moven card. Every time I make a purchase with it, the Spending Meter® will pop up telling me how much I’ve spent on that category to date this month.

greenI’ll get a green light (meaning I’m still within my means,)

yellowa yellow light (which should cause me to stop and think twice about spending anymore in that category for the rest of the month,)

redor a red light (which should make me think, “WTF are you doing?”)

Rather than just knowing the numbers and thinking I should do better, I’ll have an active reminder every time I make a purchase.

Check Up

I’ll be checking in with you guys in a month to let you know how well both of these approaches are working for us. I’m thinking the changes are going to do some really good things for us in 2016.

Do you struggle to rein in your spending? What are some things you’ve tried in the past? Have they been successful?




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13 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolutions: Rein In Your Spending

  1. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe

    I could see that happening in my house…I’m a lot more willing to use technology than Jon, who tends not to trust having too much information in the cloud (or even on the desktop, for that matter). Right now, our tracking system is for him to give me all of his paper receipts, and I log them into a spreadsheet. But he likes to figure stuff out on paper, and I usually like to run my spreadsheets.

  2. Jana @ Jana Says

    I’m actually okay with my spending. We’re on a fairly strict budget (due to two main factors: the spottiness of my income and my daughter’s cheerleading) so it helps keep us in control. I have a couple of times a year I binge spend but then I’m done. I’ve never been a huge shopper and I get paralyzed by all the choices so I help myself by just avoiding until I really, really want something.

    1. Femme Frugality

      That’s awesome! For me, it’s not like I’m going to the mall to buy shoes. In fact, I look at other blogger’s budgets and see that they’re spending a significant amount more than we do, but COL may factor into that. I don’t know. Maybe we just went without so much before now that we can afford the normal costs of running a household it seems extravagant to me. Interested to see if this type of accountability changes anything, or if I just have to suck up the fact that having a family costs more money than I’d like.

  3. Aaron

    One thing I’ve tried that has worked well is not using a credit card for a month. It makes you focus on what you can pay for immediately with cash/check and it really hits hard when you go to an ATM.

    I don’t do it very often, mainly because it’s so hard to do. But when I do, it’s a worthwhile exercise to at least see where your money is going and ways to cut back.

    1. Femme Frugality

      Yes! That’s kind of what I’m doing with this. I typically use my cards for the security and the fact that I can rack up points. Never carry a balance. Monthly bills will still be going on there. But the day to day spending part of my budget is on the card, which pops up every time I make a purchase, and notifies me not only of how much I’ve spent, but also how much of that budget I have left. So far, it’s working for me better than cash, which personally tends to burn a hole in my pocket. But I know that method works very well for others. So save idea, just different modality. 🙂

  4. Abigail @ipickuppennies

    We’ve definitely gotten lax in our spending as our income has increased/health has gotten worse. We’re not able to spend Tim’s SSA payments, which will make me more mindful of our budget. I hope. I’ll be emphasizing more that, no, it’s not okay to just go up the 1 mile up to Walgreens for the thing you need. Another 2 miles to the grocery store isn’t that big a deal. Go get better prices! I’ve also been warning him that we need to focus on stocking up on his cereal, since it’s expensive to buy off sale. And that his current Sausalito indulgence has to go, given that it’s rarely on sale.

    1. Femme Frugality

      I think that reflects our problem more than anything else: convenience. Grocery trips have been happening late night, and there’s only one store close that’s 24 hours, so not as much price comparison. Plus just running to the drug store when we need a half gallon of milk, baby wipes, etc rather than doing the research and comparison shopping that we used to.

      I hope things don’t get too rough with the cut! The Frugality challenge opens again on Saturday. That’s helped challengers; sadly, since there’s a prize I’ve recused myself, but prior to that it was helping me, too.

  5. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

    Although I remember my pin, I tend to use my debit card for most purchases. I’m one of those people who barely ever carries cash with me, unless I took some out to do laundry. I love all these tools to help you stay on track!

  6. RAnn

    We are trying to record all our spending and I made a budget. This is the first time ever. We’ve always lived below our means but we are trying to push further now.

  7. Tre

    That sounds just like our house! Mr Tre always wants to pay cash and I want to use my card to we can track it. Our compromise it to use only cash each month for groceries and pay for our cash with the app for the local station that gives us a discount.

  8. Pingback: Your Chakras and Your Money - Femme Frugality

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