No, not that time of the month (but I got your attention, didn't I?) --
The time of the month to which I refer is that time of the month in which our mortgage check has been cashed, we've paid the preschool bill for the month, we've had a costly car maintenance appointment, we've socked extra money away into our savings account because I'm afraid my job will be gone any minute, we've purchased all the groceries and gas we need to get through...and pay day is still a week away. The balance in our checkbook is ridiculously low. I'm talking double-digits low. I've put up the Spending Embargo sign.
Anyway, this week, instead of calling Big Daddy in my usual low-balance panic on Friday morning and saying "no more spending!" I called and presented him with a challenge: Let's see if we can get through this next week without spending any money out of our joint account. This means, eat only the food we have in our house; we entertain ourselves only with the DVDs, CDs, and toys that we already have; we find things to do outside the house that are free.
This means, too, that if we run out of something, too bad. Or, buy it with cash that's in your wallet. This came up Sunday evening while Big Daddy was trying to get control over the mountain of laundry that's been building all week: He ran out of detergent. We had to make a decision -- let the laundry pile go until Friday when we get paid and can go get more detergent, or go to Rite Aid and buy the cheapest bottle you can find, just to get through. I was all for the first option, but he decided to go blow $3 of his limited cash supply on cheap detergent. (So if you smell something funny when I walk by this week, you'll understand.)
We made it through the weekend without using our debit cards at all, thanks to Netflix, the library, and free admission at the Brandywine Zoo. I'm proud of us. The real challenge still lies ahead: We each started the week with about $10 in our wallets, and that's all the money we will be able to use this week. The ultimate test! That means no lunches out, choosing wisely when Big Daddy has to stop for a soda on the way home, no trips to Target to wander around looking at toys with the Boy. I do have to purchase Valentine's cards for Sweet Boy's class party Friday; I think I can get these at the dollar store. And I believe I have a few stamps left so we can mail our valentines to Sweet Boy's grandparents.
It may come down to the wire -- but this is an interesting challenge. I wonder how long we could go without spending the here-and-there amounts that we so often do. And I wonder how much we'd end up saving! It just takes a little forethought and planning. I may just extend this Spending Embargo through the end of the month to see how we come out.