12 February 2008

Spending - it matters

I'm bad. Here I am telling every one who will listen to stop spending on all those little bits and pieces that make your dollars disappear, and I go and buy lunch for myself when I was at work yesterday. I bought a cheese and salad multigrain roll and a piece of fruit cake from the lovely Swiss bakery in Maleny.

It cost me $6.50! If I did that every day I worked it would cost almost $20 a week for lunch. Doing it all year, would cost almost $1000.

I was running late again yesterday and I was supposed to be going to a lunch meeting where I thought sandwiches would be served, so I didn't bother taking lunch. The meeting was cancelled. No problems, I'll just have some of the crackers and cheese I put in the fridge last week. The cheese was gone! I went to the bakery.

There always seems to be a good excuse for spending. When I am in the shop it feels like the most natural thing in the world to buy what I have my sights set on, but I always regret it later. I have been very slack with my money lately. Last month we decided to live off the stockpile to make sure we rotated the stock properly. I only took a small amount of grocery money for milk and vegies and we left the bulk of the grocery money in the bank. However, instead of dividing up the rest of the money into my plastic bags as I always do, I just put it in my purse. We ran out of money for the first time in a couple of years.

If I am to save money and cut down on everything, I need to organise myself so it is easy to do. Having all the money in my purse is the worst way for me to organise my money. It's too difficult to budget that way. Having money ready to spend when you go out is too much of a temptation, and when these things are just a few dollars I talk myself into the spending by telling myself it's just a few dollars, it won't matter.

It matters.

Today I'm taking a backup lunch to work with me and if I don't take my lunch again, then I will have to go without. It will do me good. I've also reminded myself how easy it is to let money just slowly leak away. I need to be mindful of that all the time. I don't need another reminder for a while. I'll stay on track now.

How are you going with your budgeting? Do you fall off the edge of your budget sometimes? And if you do, how do you recover from it. How are you organising your cash so that you don't spend it when you go out? I'd be interested to know how others organise their money and how they stay on track.


  1. Hi Rhonda Jean
    I am so sorry this has happen but it was good for me. I thought I was the only one that did things like this.Sometimes i think everyone has it all together but me.I fell off the wagon too. I am working on getting myself back together. One thing I have to do is stop reading the frugal sites where they are over board on bargain shopping. Another is to watch coupons more closely and only use them if it is a product I use. Not just because I have a coupon.
    I too like cash. It is easier for me to budget what I can see and feel.
    Thanks for visiting me.By tommorrow I am going to post a squash recipe I know you will love.

  2. Rhonda
    I just wanted to say that I cope with this sort of thing by keeping a few tins etc in the top drawer of my filing cabinet.
    At the moment there is a packet of Muesi from Lidl ( I dont like to eat early in the day so a bowl of cereal at 10am deals with the munchies)4 tis of grapefruit segments for emergency lunches and some dried soup mix. These aren't thing I would eat at home especially but its very handy when you have left your lunch at home on the kitchen counter. Having said that I did buy a sausage roll from the sanwich man last week at work, and I had my lunch with me. Bad woman.
    On the subject of vouchers I dont find them at all useful or tempting, they always seem to be for things I wouldn't buy anyway. There is never a voucher giving discount for a cauliflower, a bag of potatoes or a pint of milk.

    Best wishes


  3. Like Lizzie, if my memory lets me down packet soup and tinned items help me out at the Volunteer Centre I organise.

    I know you don't advocate it but cash just flows ourt of my purse like water so we use our credit card for almost all our purchases and pay off at the end of the month.

    When the check out girls ask if I'd like any cash out they laugh when I answer 'No thank you, I only spend it if its in my purse'

    Take care


  4. We are on track this year with the budget. I agree though, it is so easy to spend it if it is your purse. I always find that that money gets wasted mostly on the 'little' purchases not big ticket items because with those , thought and discussion go into the decision whether to buy or not.

    I like to use the plastic bag/ envelope system to organise our money for the month/ fortnight. It works for us.

  5. Like Cathy, I pay for almost everything on card. I use eftpos (straight from my savings account) rather than credit, but the principle is the same. Cash makes me feel rich, cards feel like I'm making a major purchase, and we're careful about major purchases aren't we?

    I also find it helpful because our statements show where the money was spent, we pay for all the groceries, rent and utilities from the same account. It's easy then to see if we've had too many trips to the bottle shop (liquor store for foreigners) and I don't have to make so many notes.

    It's all about figuring out what makes you shop, and what helps you not shop, rather than following someone elses rules. My Mum never uses eftpos, always cash for groceries, but I have taught her to pay her bills online.

  6. Rhonda,

    Perhaps there is a place at your work where you can leave a small basket with some canned foods: soups, crackers, some dried fruits. Or perhaps in your car? I think I remember you saying you drove to
    work . Could you leave a small lunch box full of non perishables tucked in the trunk and you'd have them if you needed?

    With two small children and all the traveling we do for ice hockey, I keep a large bag of pretzels, two chocolate bars and bottled water stashed in the trunk. We only break into the supply if we know that we won't be able to make it home within the hour or so that we had planned. It takes repacking as we use it, but it saves us from eating out at fast food.

    Best Wishes,

  7. Hi Rhonda
    I've been working really hard to stay within budget. It hasn't been easy. Just last week our old washing machine gave up and had to be replaced. Then the fridge-freezer died! Big items like this really set us back. It's not easy on a single income. But I still feel positive that we will manage it!

  8. Hi Rhonda Jean
    I really enjoy reading your blog and I have left you an award on mine.

  9. I too, thought I was the only one whom pulled stunts like this. It's so easy to justify purchasing food. I mean, it's FOOD - and ya gotta eat, right?

    If I'm going to kill my budget (and for mine, it doesn't take much to kill it), it will be because I justified eating out instead of cooking from scratch. And I include buying "tv dinners" from the freezer at the market, under "eating out".

    Nice thing is, we can always get right back on the wagon, we don't have to keep spending.

    But it is hard when there's too much month left at the end of the money.

    Best wishes,

  10. Hi Rhonda:

    Great post - it just goes to show that we are all human!!! but I must agree with most of the comments made that it is so easy to justify a small ticket item but in the end they do add up. It doesn't matter if this happened to you, cause we still love you anyways and will still read your posts, ha!!! I am curious, Rhonda, does Hanno read your posts daily? Have a wonderful day.

    Liane in Canada :)

  11. Rhonda,

    Thank you for the giggle...I need it after a long and arduous day at work. I've been doing ok with staying in budget, though I've noticed that I've spent too much on lunches for work.

    My problem is that fact I'm lazy. I could have easily whipped together a casserole on the weekend to have for lunch all week; but instead, I chose to watch movies, read, have a nap, do some knitting. I need to start cracking the whip and bake on the weekends so that I will have snacks, and lunches for work during the week. It'll help with the not spending at lunch.

    However, here's the real kicker....if I bring a lunch to work I am less likely to go for a walk at lunch -- i will just move from my office to the lunch room and eat. If I don't bring a lunch it forces me to actually leave the building in search of food.

    I'm going to have to keep thinking how to work this dilemma out.

    With regards to how I seperate my funds, I've started the envelope method for groceries...I pay all my bills at the bank, and normally on payday. Like others have stated, if I have money on my person, I will be more tempted to spend it.

    I do use coupons, but my mum sends them to me in the mail...again the issue of being lazy....I can't be bother to actively search them out, but if someone sends them to me, than by all means I'll use them lol

  12. Rhonda,

    This is such great timing. I am proud to say we are now debt free with our credit cards. We also have some money for an emergency. We will start working on paying down our house:)

    We have been working on a family budget for sometime now It has never seemed to work. We have now gotten my 13 year old daughter working on our budget and I think she is doing a better job then we were:)

    We have most of our bills pretty much fixed. So are main concern is groceries, gas and my husbands parking. For the first time in a long time we also have a little
    spending money:)

    Rhonda if it wasn't for you it would have been harder. I come to your blog everyday and get some inspiration Thank You!!

    It is nice seeing that we are not alone we all need help in some area.

    We are going to start doing what you do. Seperating our money into envelopes. We are also going to start writing down everything we spend.

    Thank you again Rhonda!!


  13. It is so easy to fall off the wagon! Someone posted about reading all the blogs where people list current bargains being found in different stores. I read them but never go to check them out. More often than not I buy so many "bargains" that I actually go broke saving money! haha

    It is so easy to put things off to do another day but I have been doing really well trying to organize myself a little better. On either Saturday or Sunday I plan my menu for the week and prep most of the food if possible. This may mean making a huge bowl of green salad, preparing a pot of soup and freezing it, cooking meat for casseroles and freezing it, etc. I cook a bag of rice at a time and then package it into meal size portions and freeze. I somtimes make a big gelatin salad (Jello), a batch of cole slaw, potato salad, or pasta salad, or a dozen deviled eggs to eat during the week. I always leave things in my desk at work for a quick lunch in case I run out of time to pack mine. Cans of soup, crackers, nuts, sometimes I'll bring a couple potatos to "bake" in the microwave.

    This all may sound mundane but it really helps me to stay on track. The food budget is one area we can really stretch if an effort is made. Thanks for your great blog! I do not have a blog of my own but I am a faithful reader and love learning ways to save money or how to enjoy our earth more! Take care.


  14. I think the best way to avoid blowing out the budget is to stay away from the stores! Invariably I find myself spending a few dollars here or there for something small for my daughter, or a snack for her so I can have a few moments quite while I shop.

    I'm doing very badly at the blowouts right now though. I have yet to find a budgeting system that works for us, which is a bit of a problem, and something I am going to have to get on top of.


  15. I'm finding that the same is true for me. My husband and I made a budget and cut down a lot last summer. We've done pretty well sticking to the changes we made. Unfor. there aren't any big expenses to cut left, and we know have been felling like we're at a standstill and can't do much else to reduce spending.

    Well, I finally realized (in fact we were just talking about it this weekend) that we have to look more at the little things again since we've cut all the big ones we can for now. I know it will make some difference, even if not as much as cutting out something really big could do (such as reducing our rent, which we do hope to be able to do eventually).

    My goal is to keep track of our spending for a month, down to little details, and then look at what we can cut without lowering our quality of life much or at all. Good luck in your endeavors, and great post.

  16. Having cash always spells trouble for me too.

    I try to use my debit card for all purchases. It makes it easier for me to track.

    Budgeting is going well except the dinner out with high school friends last night.

    And I'm going to need new tubes for my bike tires.

  17. My fiance and I are working on staying on budget. Last month was our first time so we are still trying to figure out what is realistic. We are doing okay but slip ups happen. But rather then beating ourselves up about we just try to move on. We always use credit cards because cash seems to just disappear and like other people have said it's very easy to keep track of your spending by looking at your credit card statement. I also keep cereal in my desk. It's not the most nutritious thing but it works in a pinch.


  18. Hi Rhonda, we're just in the process of writing down EVERYTHING we spend this month. (It's blown out a little because we bought a dishwasher! But that was actually budgeted for). However, no matter how shocking it is, at least I know where it's all going, which is a really big thing for me - I feel like I've been losing track over the last couple of months. I'm not exactly holding us back this month, because I want it to be an honest record of what we spend (although I am trying to cut down on food we don't really need... like lollies for M!!) Sometimes it's good to have a bit of a blowout to get you back on track again! (Was it a yummy sandwich? Hope so!)

  19. Wow! 18 people and Rhonda all struggling with budgeting. I have to admit that the envelope/plastic bag system works well for me, apart my my grocery spending. Unfortunately if I foget my lunch I have two supermarkets within 30 seconds of my workplace. I always tend to buy more than I should.
    My goal is to try and control my grocery spending, by menu planning all my meals and making sure I only make one trip to the supermarket each week.

  20. Hi Rhonda,

    Joanne from Dubbo and a self confessed impulse buyer up until this year. I am member of the simple savings website/club and they have all sorts of tips on ways to save money and the lady who runs it Fiona Lippey calls herself a miser extraordinaire. She has a free newsletter and weekly tip you can subscribe to by e-mail with lots of interesting info and you can also pay a membership to gain access to all the info in the vault. There is also a calender available to print with a monthly theme. Last month was No impulse buys month with this month no spending month. You can enter to win $1000 to the person who changes their spending habits the most with other prizes also. Each day you go onto your onwn diary section and record your outgoings. This has been a wonderful exercise for me and has got me into the miserly frame of mind which I know will stick. Well worth a visit. Good luck

  21. Hi Rhonda,

    I've been reading your blog for a couple of months now but this is the first time I've commented.

    For years, I've been keeping a spending diary. Every month I take a scrap piece of A4 paper, and fold it in half. On the outside I divide it into four:


    This is done on the both outer sides. I record all movement of cash in and out of my current account. For cash expenses, the cash withdrawal is recorded on the outside of the sheet and this is carried over to the inside of the paper where I record the flow of cash funds.

    Here's an example (outer sides):
    01/02| Balance B/F | - | 0.00
    01/02| Salary | +£1000 | £1000
    01/02| Rent | £500 | £500
    02/02| Cash (1) | £20 | £480

    Here's an example of the inner sides:
    01/02| Balance B/F | - | £5
    02/02| Cash (1) | +£20 | £25
    03/02| Beer | £5 | £20

    By the above, I know how much money I have in my current account (£480) and how much cash I have on hand (£20) at all times. Wherever possible, I use a debit card to keep cash withdrawls to a minimum. I also transcribe the above information to an Excel spreadsheet where expenses are grouped into areas:

    - Household
    - Utilities
    - Groceries
    - Clothing & Grooming
    - Health & Fitness
    - Car & Travel
    - etc

    Thus I am recording my spends on a day-to-day basis during the month (paper based), and I have a monthly snapshot for previous months (spreadsheet).

    My aim was always to ensure that my current account was never overdrawn, and I realised quite recently that I was using savings to help me over hard times. As such, I have now created a budget based on my spending last year.

    Using the monthly spending diary spreadsheet, I have inserted a budget sheet which has defined amounts for monthly/yearly spending in above categories and this is measured against the recorded spends.

    I only just created this budget sheet last week so I don't know how I'll get on for some time but it makes me feel like I'm in control again.

    Hope that helps,
    Yabusame (in the UK)

  22. Hi Rhonda,

    It's good to know so many others are in the same boat :)

    Since stopping work I'm finding I'm spending much less. I've got more time to plan and cook meals instead of popping into the supermarket at lunchtime for 'lunch' and coming out with pizza etc for tea cos I knew I wouldn't have time/be too tired to make something from scratch after work.

    Even taking into account my lack of salary for January, we still came in under budget for last month! This mainly because I now do 1 big supermarket visit a week instead of lots of quick visits after work.

    We also pay for everything on our credit card and clear it at the end of every month. I don't keep much cash in my purse or I would just spend it!

  23. Hi Rhonda, here's what I do.
    On pay day (24th of the month) I withdraw 20% and transfer into savings.
    Then every Monday I take out £100 cash. I shop for items on my list on Monday, being careful because this money has to last the week.
    During the week I replenish supplies of milk and fresh veg.
    By the Weekend there is always some money left which I can then use to purchase groceries to add to my stockpile, have a small treat etc.
    Sunday night any money left over (usually £20+) goes into a piggybank and the next day the next £100 comes out.
    The piggy bank gets emptied every so often into a savings account which helps towards Christmas, Birthdays, holiday etc etc.
    I note EVERYTHING down in a little book kept in my handbag, to the last penny.
    I know you are an advocate for a stockpile and I TOTALLY agree with you. For so many of our staples I never have to pay more than 1/2 price because I buy enough on bogof to last 6 months or until the next offer. It really keeps the costs down and means there are plenty of supplies in case of illness or disaster!
    Still loving the blog!

  24. Wow, I feel so naughty. I never make lunches to take with me, even though I know I should. It's just so boring. :-( But it's also just so expensive to eat out all the time, even though the cafeteria at the hospital is cheaper than regular. If I bought the same as I've done today I would spend 160 kroner a week on lunch alone -- that's over US$30.

    I know that food is really one area where we can save a lot of money. I need to start making weekly menus. It will also help with grocery shopping; it's so annoying to shop every day and aimlessly wander the aisles looking for something appetising, and instead buying 3 packs of cookies on sale even though my homemade cookies are much better. (Oops.)

    I understand that you're upset but this post has really put things into perspective for me!

  25. Thanks for the helpful comments. Just a question to the people using credit cards and debit cards, do you pay a fee when using your cards? Most stores here have a $10 minimum purchase on credit cards and there is a fee on our debit cards when we go over a certain number of transactions per month. Are there cards that are fee-free?

  26. Rhonda,

    I think my one savings account is a no fee account, but I've had it since I was in diapers.

    My other account, at a different institution, which i use on a regular basis, I think i get 25 transactions/month which is covered in my monthly fees. I really ought to look into it.

    However, I can pay bills at the machine or at the teller and there's no charge for that.

    I couldn't tell you what the transaction terms are for my credit card. That's *suppose* to be for emergencies, travel and on-line purchases. Most months there are only 2 transactions on it.

  27. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    We use our debit card for purchases. I also spend more when there is cash in my purse. The debit transactions show up on my statement and I can see how well(or not) I am keeping within my budget.We pay a bank fee every month and the account I use the most does not charge extra fees no matter how many transactions I do. My other account has a limit for how many transaction can be done and then a fee is charged after that for each additional transaction. We live in Canada and most people I know use their debit cards. I have a budget to keep to and find using my debit card is not a problem as I can check my account online anytime to see if I am sill on track or if I am overspending in a certain area. I always have a rough idea of where I am on my purchases, but check in online just to make sure where we are at. Some months I will add up my transactions and find I spent less than I had hoped to. Lately though, we have been overspending o entertainment. ( Too many video rentals).


  28. I know how frustrating that is Rhonda. I think no matter how on top of budgeting we are, sometimes every single one of has slip-ups for some reason or another.

    I am a SAHM, and the only time I need to have a lunch with me is if I end up staying at school after lunch to help in a classroom or after bible study. I rarely buy lunch, except when it is a planned expense. And there are times when that's ok...for me it's a well thought through treat and I remember to enjoy ever morsel for that reason!

    I use cash though. It helps me see when my money has run out, how far it needs to go, and when I need to say no to something, or put an item back on the supermarket shelf. I only use the debit/ATM card if I haven't been able to get to an ATM and I need to grocery shop. We don't have an ATM for one of the banks we use, in our town, so I make the withdrawal through the supermarket. It's cheaper than the fee to use another bank's ATM.

  29. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    Sorry to hear about your budget mishap but I think you are a bit hard on yourself here.
    Maybe an emergency fund in your car of some coins would help you on days when you are running late. I have coins in a coin tray in my car for parking meters etc something like that for your lunches or when you get caught off guard may help you and if you set a small amount aside as part of your grocery budget for these once off times you probably won't feel so bad about it.
    I have been going well so far with my budget and tightening the belt. I generally don't carry any cash in my purse I would spend it too, on silly things. I try to use my debit card or the internet. I find this works well and is very convenient for me as I spend a lot of time at the computer doing business bookwork. I am a fairly busy person and I am always looking for ways to use my time efficiently and effectively. I also try to avoid going out unnecessarily as this wastes time and petrol and creates temptations to buy. (If I could just get someone to do my grocery shops my life would be perfect :)
    I have also been writing everything I spend down in a daily diary/journal that I have decided to start keeping which includes daily notes and life happenings as well. I also have started to keep a separate diary for food and other household purchases. I have been stapling in the receipts and comparing prices and how long it takes for certain items to be used eg: laundry powder, toilet paper etc so I can get a better handle on costs and usage. Once I have an idea of this and we have moved and settled in to the next place I will then be shopping specials and commencing a stockpile as you suggest and hopefully I will save doing this. I have found some surprising results on expenditure and usage so far. Fruit & Veg is one area of higher expense which surprised me especially as the quality is so low and a lot of it gets thrown out as it doesn't last. I will be growing some pots of herbs and lettuce and other basics once we move and hopefully this will help cut down the cost. It will be hard as we are moving to a rental until we sell our home.
    I am very determined to save and stop being wasteful and I have a strong will when I set my mind to things. It will be very interesting to see how much I can save by the end of the year.
    So far I have managed to save around half of what I normally spend at the supermarket which is great. I think I can do better and will keep at it.
    I have learned lots of useful tips from you and also from a site you recommended on budgeting plus there are so many very good tips in your comments section too.
    It is a great support network.
    Take care and kind regards from Liz

    ...Oh by the way I have received my beautiful tea cosy from Jacky and Jacky has received mine. What a wonderful fun swap. I have emailed Sharon a photo and have photos on my blog to share.

  30. My husband and I have decided to sell our big house and buy a small home for the family with our equity. We have hopes to do it debt free. I hear you on the money issue. are we being Consumed or are we consumers. It is a lie to think that we are not the target to be consumed.

  31. Hi Rhonda Jean - its been a long time since i have written to you but have been reading your amazing blog frequently. About 6 months ago we got our 1st credit card on which we pay an annual fee which averages only a few dollars a month. We don't pay any other fees to use it and always pay it off each month. I am not convinced its the way to go for us yet but said we'd reassess after a year! I think its just getting my head around it as I have always been one to not buy unless I have the cash! It is convenient but we only use it for food and petrol but it still hurts to get the bill each month and to stare at how much we spend on just these 2 items! I am just thankful we have the ability to pay it off each time ! I cannot imagine having the debt build higher each month! Lynette from Adelaide

  32. Hi Rhonda,

    In answer to your questions, here in the UK, I use my debit card wherever possible. Three are NO fees for use. I only use cash where my card is not accepted.

    I also have a credit card which I use for gifts and large purchases but I always pays this off in full whenever the bill arrives. The credit card I use gives me 1% cashback every time I use it and NO fees.

    If I had to pay a fee to own or use any sort of card, then I'd probably return to a cash only system and dump the cards.

    Yabusame (UK)

  33. The only place that charges a fee for using a credit card here in the UK is IKEA. I use a Marks & Spencer credit card which gives me back vouchers to use in store. I used some this morning to buy new underwear ;)For those outside the UK, M&S is famous for its underwear LOL

  34. Rhonda, I must admit I spend much more lately, in the pre-wedding frenzy. Consider even this silly little thing: yesterday, I paid for a bus ride even though I have an all-included monthly ticket. I simply didn't remember I had it before I got off the bus!! Soon I'll forget my own name. ;)


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