So it's no secret that I've decided to quit my job this summer. It's all part of a larger theme going on in my life, to reassess the things I really want to do and then take actions to make those things happen. Right now, I want more time to focus on writing and publishing, so working from home on my editing business seems like a good way to make that happen.
But let's get real, from a financial perspective, quitting a job is scary. When you're going from a sure paycheck each month to a totally unknown income, it forces you to take another look at your finances.
Right now, my husband and I are re-accessing our expenses and making an effort to save more money in anticipation of the first few months of the job transition when our total income will in all likelihood be lower than before. It's been an interesting experiment.
Putting a hard-stop on spending makes me realize just how much money we were essentially throwing out the window, with little to nothing to show for it. The pressure to buy things, particularly to fix small nagging problems, is omnipresent. Here are just a few things I've thought about buying in the last few weeks:
1) Tickets to Deadpool.
2) Kongs for my dog. (She takes hers outside when I'm not looking and loses them in the woods somewhere)
3) A butter dish. (Ours broke)
4) An umbrella. (Broke)
5) An ironing board (I've never owned one)
6) Micellar face wash (I blame reading fashion blogs for putting this idea in my head)
7) A black pair of shoes. (I don't have a casual pair of black shoes)
8) EATING OUT
Individually, these are little things, but they add up, especially when it would be so much easier to order a new umbrella from Amazon with one-click purchasing. And yes, I can afford a new umbrella, but I don't need to. It turned out that I already had an extra umbrella lying around. I just had to think about it and then find it, which showed me that what I really need is to be more aware of my possessions. Ultimately, I guess I'd rather switch jobs, or take a vacation with my husband, or save up for a down payment, than own a superfluous umbrella.
One of the ways my husband and I are trying to be more aware of these types of purchases is by keeping a record of everything we do buy using a good old-fashioned pen and paper system. We now keep this notebook on the kitchen table.
At the end of the day, my husband and I look at our bank account and see what purchases we made during the day. Dog food. Beer. Car registration fee. Stuff like that. And we write it down.
I think it's the double-whammy of both looking at our checking account every day and then writing those purchases down which has helped us be more aware of how we're spending our money. It makes us double-think any purchase, knowing it's a tangible expense that will have to be accounted for at the end of the day. It's the non-budget budget.
That means for every one of those eight items I listed above, I've had to ask myself, is this something I really need or want?
A little play-by-play:
1) Deadpool: Is this a movie I wouldn't mind waiting for until it comes out on video? Yes.
2) Kongs: We still have one kong left that's perfectly serviceable.
3) Butter dish: I've gone five years without one since the last one broke. Clearly, this is a low priority in my life.
4) Umbrella: Already had one hidden away in the closet.
5) Ironing Board: Neither my husband nor I wear clothes that need to be ironed.
6) Face Wash: I already have lots of beauty products. When they run out, I'll reassess whether this is something I really want.
7) Black shoes: If I'm working from home, will anyone care that I'm wearing brown shoes with a black sweater? Nope.
8) Eating out: This is the hardest one by far. All I can do is try and buy good food from the grocery store that we like cooking and eating. Always a struggle though.
What's funny is that this exercise has solved a little money mystery for us. At the beginning of each month, I would put $X.00 away into savings, but by the end of the month I'd routinely have to take out $Y.00 from savings and put it back into checking. Yes, it looked like I was trying to save too much. Except, if I did the math on our expenses, it was in theory possible to save $X.00. I just didn't know where the extra $Y.00 was being spent.
Turns out $Y.00 was being spent on garbage like I listed above. Buying junk we didn't need and eating an excessive amount of food at restaurants. Now I understand why, growing up, my parents never allowed us to eat out. All that money they saved? They used it to pay off their mortgage in just 16 years.
So yay! Now we have $Y.00 extra each month to help with the upcoming job transition. Which means more writing! Which has a thousand-fold greater worth to me than a new pair of shoes. Pretty neat.
Have you ever tried a new budgeting system? What worked for you?