107. Responsible Spending Challenge Take 2

In case you’re wondering, and I’m sure you are, yes, I still have Lady Gaga stuck in my head.  However, moving on to more important things…

 Lunch today wasn’t too terribly exciting so there aren’t any photos.  My afternoon snack was a terribly disappointing apple.  I thought I bought Honeycrisp apples; turns out they’re actually Braeburn.  I’m not a big fan.  They’re not very crisp which is what I really look for in an apple.

 Since today marks the beginning of Lent, many bloggers have been discussing what they will be giving up for Lent.  I’m generally not big on giving things up for Lent (similar to how I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions).  While I am technically Catholic*,  I am much more spiritual than religious.  I don’t really follow the Catholic faith at all.  My beliefs are much more eclectic and pagan oriented.  Most people give things up for Lent in the interest of self-betterment (self-sacrifice, self-discipline), and that is something I can agree with regardless of faith.

Back in November, I talked about how my spending was getting out of control, and I was going to be focusing on financial responsibility and responsible spending.  Yeah, well, that never happened.  I sent up a mint.com account and promptly ignored it and it’s incessant emails.  My spending is still a bit out of control, and I’m still feeling very broke.  So, for the next 40 days (today until April 4th), I’m going to be giving up spending money on anything that isn’t a necessity.  For the purpose of clarity, here are my guidelines. 

Necessity Not a Necessity
Food (Groceries) Eating out/ Take out
Gas Shoes
Pet Supplies (food, bedding) Clothing
Personal care items** Going out/ Drinking***
Bills (cell phone, mortgage, car, etc.) “Toys” (games, music, DVDs, books)
Gym membership  
Medical expenses  
**This is only a necessity if I am actually out of the product.  I have a habit of buying these items just because I feel like changing it up not because I’m actually out of the product.
***I will be making exceptions for special occasions, such as birthdays, but I will be taking cash ($20 – $40 max) with me and limiting myself to spending only that cash.

 I know things will come up, and there will be gray areas.  My plan is to consider these situations individually and determine if the purchase is absolutely necessary or just something I want.  I will also be searching for the best possible deal on these items.

 There are a few “luxury items,” I am deeming acceptable. 

  • My Netflix account
    I’m generally really terrible about turn around time on my Netflix.  I’ll have a movie in my possession for a two or three weeks at a time before I remember to mail it back.  I will be more diligent in mailing movies back.  I will also make better use of the Netflix account now that we can stream to the xBox.  I will not allow myself to Rebox DVDs since I usually end up forgetting to return them for several days and end up paying $5 to rent what started with a free rental code.
  • My World of Warcraft account (Yes, I’m a gamer.  I admit it.).
    The WoW account I am good about canceling when I don’t feel I’m playing enough to be getting my money’s worth.  If I find that to be the case I’ll just cancel again.
  • Items for my brother and Nicki’s wedding gift.
    This only applies if the stuff is on clearance/ really great sale.  This is stuff I have to purchase over time anyway.

 I’m also going to be limiting what I charge on my credit cards.  I don’t charge that much to begin with, and I make it a point to pay them off at the end of every month.  However, the things that do get charged get “forgotten” about.  I don’t want to stop using my credit cards completely as I get pretty decent cash back rewards on them, but I’m only going to be charging “approved” purchases.

  • Netflix account†
  • WoW account†
  • Gas
  • Groceries
  • Gym membership•
†These are internet based charges and I don’t like using my debit card for anything internet based.
• This is currently charged to a credit card, and it would be more hassle than it’s worth to switch to my debit card.  It’s a set monthly amount, and I get reimbursed on a quarterly basis through my work’s wellness program.

 The final element is to be more diligent in tracking my spending.  I always record my receipts, but I don’t always do it in a timely fashion.  At the end of every day, I want to sit down and track my purchases for the day.

That’s about it for now.  Hopefully I’m a bit more successful this time around.

 *I was baptized Catholic, went to 10 years of Catholic school, made my first Communion and was confirmed.  I still attend Mass on holidays though that’s really just to appease my mother.

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