This month we’re facing a few big expenses. Nothing we can’t handle, but I’m challenging myself not to resort to savings to pay for all of it. That was my old way of doing things, but I’ve recently changed my mindset–I want to protect my savings and take hits on my checking (which is our active cash flow, if you will). Taking hits in the checking account only means a sacrifice within this budget month, and I can manage that much better than I can anticipate the eventual effects of drawing from savings.
So scrimping to deal with a big hit in the month of June isn’t so bad, especially when you do as I have a tendency to do–turn it into a game. I’m constantly challenging myself in silly ways: how long can I go without turning the lights on (result: long enough to take a shower, dry my hair, and put on all my makeup except eyeliner); how high can we leave the thermostat (result: 80 during the day, 78 at night–remember you’re not doing polar testing in your house); can I drive to and from work without AC (result: no problem); how far can we stretch last week’s CSA drop and the weekend’s leftovers (result: TBD); what can we do that’s free or already paid for instead of going to the movies (result: head to the gym and climb, play a board game, read library books, take a walk, watch one of dozens of movies we already own).
Other things I’m trying to save on dough:
- restricting meals at restaurants to when we’re with friends
- combining trips so errands are run as efficiently as possible
- not driving home on my lunch break (a weakness since I miss the yard and the bees and the cats all day)
- bringing our lunches to work every day (which we were practically already doing)
- not buying any new clothes (though I haven’t done this since March)
- maximizing grocery savings with coupons and store sale fliers
I realize for many people, scrimping and saving and just getting by is a fact of life. I’m lucky that I can turn a tight budget month into a fun mental challenge. And I hope that some of the things I learn from this month will carry over into subsequent months. I’ve already learned that taking a shower with the lights on is pretty overrated, at least as long as Daylight Savings Time is in play.