Giving

In January 2012, I wrote the following blog post sharing an encounter I had with an older woman who requested money from me. Since then, I have ran into a woman who I believe is the same individual; each time she pleads to me with the same or similar story. Perhaps its a different woman as multiple years passed between each encounter. When I asked her if she remember me, she called me a liar.

My giving stragety has since changed. My focus is on vetted organizations, one that supports my local community and one that assists in international relief work. I try to keep keep gift cards to places that don’t sell alcohol on hand if asked. I always offer a smile and took them in the eye even if I don’t have anything to offer. I try to remember to show them human kindness and believe even a smile can be charity.

She knew exactly how to get me with her story. She got me good!

Yesterday, I had an eye-opening experience. It didn’t seem right to delve into in yesterday’s post, but I would like to capture the memory today. As I was leaving Changing Hand bookstore with my new purchases, I called the BFF who I was supposed to be meeting later to catch up. Upon reaching her, we started our normal banter about our awesome lives. In normal personal fashion, I climbed into my car while I continued to chat and started the car engine. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a cleanly dressed, older African-American lady waving me down. My brain immediately registered that fact she was going to ask me for something. Spotting a white cup in her hand, I  immediately opened the coin drawer in my car and gathered what coins I could find. All the while, I remained talking to the BFF about what movie I wanted to see…”Nothing depressing! Give me something upbeat and funnny!” I demanded to my friend. Resting my cell phone on my shoulder, holding a handful of coin in my right hand, I pressed the button to scroll down my window just enough to stick out my hand. “The Descendants would be a no! Lets watch something without the words “tragedy” in the description, please!”, I retorted at my friends suggestion. I don’t know if I even looked in the direction of the lady when my hand was dangling out the window. I finally turned to give her my full attention when I heard her say, “Ma’am, I don’t want your money.” Realizing that this might require me to listen, I told the BFF to hold on and turned to the lady. She then repeated, “I don’t want your money. What I need is diapers.” 
Instantaneously a different part of me began listening. As I mother with a toddler still in diapers, I knew there was more to her story. I am not very emotional or sympathetic to most tugs on the heart strings. This is not something I am proud of or that I think is a positive trait. However, as a former substance abuse counselor, I have heard every story in the book and then some. “So what you are tell me is that you need money for gas, but you are driving around the parking lot asking me for money?” “So, you just asked me for money, but all of a sudden you are not hungry for subway I just offered to buy you.”
But something about her plea was genuine. She told me briefly about her two grandchildren that were badly in need of diapers and if I could go to the grocery store across the street and get some, she would wait for me in the parking lot. I found myself saying “Sure!” and asked her to tell me what sizes. She listed that she needed two different sizes, one pull-ups and other other regular diapers. It dawned on me that it would probably be easier to walk to the grocery store with her and have her pick out the items. So together we started walking. 
She then shared her story. Her mother just passed away. She lived two hours away with her grandchildren and had just come to bury her mother. She didn’t get paid until Friday and had been struggling this last week to get back to her home and back to work. She had be trying to conserve diapers and now her babies had developed rashes from the irritation. She repeated several times, “I am 55 years old. I have never sold a day in my life.” She told me she hadn’t ate since the day before and was okay with that as long as her grandchildren were comfortable. She said she would mail me a check for double the amount I paid on Friday. She said she’d western union it or anything else and I didn’t need to give her any personal information. I told her that it was okay as she broke down sobbing. “Its been a hard week”, she said after apologizing for her tears. I shared that I had children and that she had me at “diapers”. She halted in her tracks and exclaimed, “I can’t take money from you. You have children!” and almost walked away. I reassured her that my children have everything they need and I wanted to help make sure her grandchildren would for the next few days. She was overjoyed and asked my name and if she could hug me. After giving her my name, I said “of course” she could (even though hugs from people I don’t know usually makes my skin crawl). 
She asked if I worked and I told her I did. “I am sorry I am keeping you from work!” she said suddenly realizing she might have caught me on the way to work! I told her that it was okay. I was in fact off of work and the husband had the children. “Is your husband going to be mad that you spent this money?” she asked quietly. I reassured her that he would have done the same thing. She continued to share more information about herself. She mentioned where she lived and where she was originally from. In a bizarre twist, it turned out to be the same town my husband is from! We swapped references to different fixtures in the town as she picked up two packages of diapers. As we walked out of the store, she said the only thing she could offer me was to pray as she was a church-going, God-fearing lady. I told her that would be nice. She then asked if she could pray for me right then and there. Imagining the awkward scene that would create, I told her that she didn’t have to. Immediately she bowed her head and began, “Dear Heavenly Father…” She offered words of gratitude to the blessing in her life and asked for support for her tribulations. She asked for God to watch over me and my famliy and provide anything we could ever imagine. She ended her prayer and said she would never forget my kindness. She asked once again if she could repay me on Friday and I told her to “pay it forward” in any way she could in the future. She gave me one last hug, grabbed her bags and walked towards her car that had definitely seen better days. 
I returned to my car thinking about how a few minutes before I was celebrating the fact that I had “made” $63 worth of store credit, when this woman was struggle to figure out how she was going to get out of the difficult turn of events life had handed her. I thought about how I never have had to worry about having diapers for my children or food on the table. I started thinking about my uncountable blessings in life. Tears began flowing down my cheeks as I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my blessings and saddened by the struggles this lady and her family will probably continue to have to endure. As I drove away, I realized in all that she shared about her life, children and struggle, I never once asked her the simple question of what her name was. From barely looking at her as initially handed her some change from a semi-raised window to not even getting her name, it dawned on me how detached from what might be going on around me. While this may not fall under living minimally, I realize I need to be more mindful. 

Bob Won’t Let Us be Financially Great – How I Deal with a Spouse who Hates Budgets

This post was orginally published on https://www.veefrugalfox.com/blog.

Over 10 year ago, my husband Bob and I met when we were pursuing graduate school at the same institution. Looking back, we were both 22 years old and debt free before it became a thing! We began as friends and then started dating six months later. Funny to note that while I was taking student loans and a car note, he remained debt free driving a “Dave car”. He had zero debt and didn’t own a credit card. When he put a ring on it, he paid for that ring with straight cash. We combined bank accounts after we got engaged and started planning our wedding. We set a budget and vowed to not to spend a penny over $10K. I graduated, deferred my loans and used my full time income to save for the majority of our wedding. We were on the same page financially and it was great!

Fast forward to the present day, Bob refuses to budget. He spends money on whatever he wants. I stopped trying to hold budget meetings when they all started to feel like a bad reality TV show! (Next up on “How to work towards a divorce”, we have Bob and Grace.) So what happened between our wedding and now? He got a job. After spending a billion years in school, he graduated and started corporate employment. In the beginning, we were DINKs (dual income, no kids) and living large. We bought a brand new SUV and a house (at the peak of the market before the crash) with no money down. We could afford it, so why not. I tried to get him on board with going gazelle intense on the debt we accumulated, but it soon became a serious point of contention in our marriage. I will never forget him telling me, “I didn’t spent all those years in school to be living like a poor person!” 

After that, I knew I was on my own. Because of the cross-country move for his job, there were a few months that I was unemployed and we lived off of his salary only. When I started working, I used my salary to quickly pay off $13K worth of student loans. We continue to live off of his salary today and he doesn’t seem to care or notices since he refuses to talk about money. I use my earnings for whatever “crazy” financial goals I have going on. I’ve paid off $113K of debt over 10 years using this method. If he was on board, I could have cut that time in half. But since living off his salary helped me pay off debt, I figured a strong marriage was better than one that fights over money all the time. I keep telling myself that the turtle wins the race. We will be debt free including the mortgage at some point but it will just take it a little longer.

Do I get frustrated? Of course! I still make a budget every month and try to glean from him what he thinks things will cost. We usually discuss what events are coming up for us and the kids. I’ll then take that information and try to adjust the budget accordingly. When he overspends, I work to underspend on groceries, my fun money or eating out. Is it a fair system? Not at all. Often I have to catch myself from thinking “Well, the budget is already blown! I might as well overspend too!” Is this system working? Well, you be the judge. We are debt free except for the mortgage. We recently refinanced our mortgage to a 15 year one. We have 3 month emergency fund as well as he is contributing 10% of his salary to retirement. Sure, we could be great and be on baby step 6 by now. But I’ll take a great marriage that doesn’t fight over finances instead.

*The names may or may not have been changed to protect the guilty.

How A Fairy Grad-School Mother Helped Me Pay for Grad School and How Her Advice Can Help You Too.

This post orginally appeared on the website LoanFreeStudent.org.

As an undergrad student, I was one of the lucky ones that graduated with little student loan debt. Sadly, I cannot say the same for graduate school. I always knew that college would open many doors for me; the most critical was opening the door to escape my parents house unto freedom. I grew up in a very religious family. For years, I fought with my parents on everything they deemed holy and scared. I studied hard and did whatever I could to get into a college far away from my controlling parents. When I received an offer letter to Ohio University, I knew this was my chance to run free. Unfortunately, my parents refused to let me move 350 miles away. Being only 17 years of age, there was little I could do and ended up accepting admissions to a university only 25 miles from our home. I was devastated and concluded my life was ruined forever. Despite my parents track record for eccentric ideas, attending a local university was one of the greatest moments of my life. I ended up getting a full ride and graduated only owing $1,200 which I quickly paid off.

After graduating, I was faced with the “now what” crisis. My liberal arts degree left me with no marketable skills and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I knew immediately that I had to graduate school. But for what? I quickly decided I wanted to save the world and put in motion a plan to finally leave my home state and go to school as far away. Two years later, I took a plane and greyhound bus to a small college town in Florida to study counseling. A few weeks into my first semester, I realized I did not have what it takes to fix other people’s problems. I didn’t want to be a counselor, was racking up large amounts of student loan debt, and was rethinking everything. 

Luckily the universe was looking out for me. Even before the fall semester, I got a notice that I could come to campus early and participate in a program to help minorities adjust to graduate school. I received a small stipend for living expenses during the summer and had one of my graduate courses paid for. Through the program, I met a wonderful woman who was pursuing her Ph.D. She had an amazing impact on my graduate school experience. Upon meeting me, she asked me if I had funding to pay for my masters degree. I didn’t. I’ll never forget her response, “You should never pay for graduate school.” She arranged for me to meet several faculty members in a quest to have them pay for my schooling. By the middle of the Fall semester, I had a graduate assistantship that would not only give me money to live off of, but pay part of my tuition. She also urged me to apply to several scholarships and I ended up receiving a small one for almost every semester I was enrolled. She definitely was my fairy grad-school mother.

Two and a half years later, I graduated with about $13K worth of debt for a program that was $60K for out of state students. I worked in the counseling industry for a few years until I finally switched to a field that better suited my personality. My student loan was the first debt I attacked once I finished cash flowing a wedding (to my husband I met in graduate school). It took me about a year to pay off. If you are contemplating graduate school, here are a few tips that I did  or wish I did to reduce the amount of money I took out in loans:

  1. Cash flow that baby! Seriously, it’s possible. There are people out there who are doing this and you can do it too!
  2. Wait several years to make sure your field of choice is really what you want to do and spend your money on. Although I know I was supposed to attend the university I did when I did so that I could meet my husband, perhaps if I waited I would have gotten a degree that would have more closely matched my long term career.
  3. Go to school in state.  Again, the universe wanted me to meet my husband, but did I need to go out of state when there were plenty of perfectly good colleges around that I could have gotten in-state tuition?
  4. Look for scholarships. Yes, there are scholarships for Graduate school. I didn’t realize this until my fairy grad-school mother told me. 
  5. Look for benefits-eligible campus employment.  Whether it’s a traditional graduate assistantship or just a random job that offers discounted tuition, this could drastically decrease the cost of tuition. I currently work at a university that offers almost free tuition to staff members. 
  6. If you have to take out loans, return unused funds at the end of the semester. Each semester, I didn’t know if what I was doing would cover all of my tuition. So, I took out the minimum amount I thought I needed each semester, but diligently returned any unused amount by the end of the semester. This alone saved me from racking up tons of debt and spending it all on Starbucks.
  7. Make a plan to pay off your student loans as soon as you can! There is no need to hold on to that garage. Free yourself!

In the end, I don’t regret the paper that hangs in my living room. Having a masters degree has indeed opened many doors for me. You can never go wrong in expanding your knowledge! However, there are definitely ways to not have a few years turn into debt that haunts you for the rest of your life. Similar to what my fairy grad-school mother said to me, I urge you to not go into debt for graduate school.

How to Save Money on Kid’s Birthday Parties

Today is my son’s 7 year old birthday. It has been seven years since my tiny King was born and it has been quite an adventure ever since! In honor of his birthday, I decided to write a post on different ways you can save time and money on birthday parties. Here are a few tips and tricks that you may or may not want to try.

The first one is pretty obvious: not having a party at all. Nothing in the “Being a Parent Manual” says that birthday parties are a requirement for healthy childhood development. This would save a lot of money, time and energy. Let’s be honest; they aren’t really going to remember the party from ages 1 – 3 anyways. If photos are a concern, you can always use stock photos and create the best birthday party that they can’t remember! “Honey, you don’t remember Beyonce being at your second year old concert themed party? That’s too bad! It was a lot of fun!”

When they get older (and smarter), you might have to actively say no when they bring up the idea. This can be done in a few ways. First, you can join a religion that does not allow for the celebration of birthdays. Your options include Jehovah’s Witnesses who believe in only celebrating Jesus’s birth or Muslims who claim Muhammad didn’t celebrate his so why should you celebrate yours (You aren’t special, Junior!) Too much of an effort to change religions?  “Because I said so!” also works.

In all seriousness, here’s what we practice in our household. I go all out! I grew up around family members who didn’t celebrate birthdays. I loved getting gifts from them year round or on other holidays, but really missed having one day that everyone celebrated me. So when I had children, I went a little crazy at first. My oldest daughter had a party when she turned one. Then we got together with friends on her second birthday. We had a full blown birthday party at the park when she turned 3 and then had a princess party when she turned 4. Finally having second child made me realize that I was headed towards a financial crisis with two birthday parties each year. We decided to come up with a plan. The kids would party with friends on even birthdays and have a simple dinner with the family on odd years. We plan to do this until they reached 10. After that, they will only get 13 and 16 year parties.

Another thing I tried to implement is a “no gift”policy. After overhearing my daughter talk about how many presents she was going to get, I put a note in the Evite saying “We are requesting no gifts.” Did that work? Nope! I tried again two years later, and it still didn’t work. Finally I decided that people thought I was joking or the meanest mother ever.  Now, starting with the 8 year old birthday, they will chose a non-profit to donate the gifts. On the invitation, I still write “No gifts please. However, if you want to give, we are collecting for *blank* cause.” Works like a charm! The kids get to learn about the importance of giving and I get less clutter in the house. 

In conclusion, my only real tip is to celebrate in a way that holds meaning and value to you. Whether that is not celebrating at all (which I totally respect) or having a 50 person party every year, take time to acknowledge the miracle of life and how precious our time on this earth is. Happy Birthday, King! 

My Son is Allergic to Air

Well, he’s not. But some days it really does feel like it. I have no allergies. If I want to eat something, never does the thought “Could this cause me to break out into hives?” cross my mind. When I started dating my husband, he told me about the long list of allergies he had. The health nut (and know-it-all) that I was thought to myself, “That’s because you didn’t grow up on organic food and was fed formula as a baby.” The universe was like, “Grace, I’m going to teach you!”

So back to my non-formula/organically fed son, “King”. There are eight common allergies that must be listed by law on any processed food. Allergy tests at one year old revealed that he is allergic to 7 of the 8:  milk, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. Oh, but let’s not stop there. He also is allergic to chicken, turkey, coconut, seeds and beef. For a second there, we thought his beef allergy had disappeared. Nope! So he’s pretty much a vegan who can’t have soy, coconut and seeds but can have fish. Or so we thought!

Yesterday, I decided to try cooking one thing for lunch for me and the kids. The featured protein of the day was salmon since my husband who is allergic to fish wasn’t home. It was a beautiful meal that I proudly posted on Instagram. #bestmomever! King took one look at the food and was like, “I am allergic to fish.” My daughter chimed in, “Lucky, I wish I was allergic!” My response, “King, you are not allergic! You eat fish sticks all the time. Mimi, eat your food.” So they started eating it. All of a sudden, I noticed my son itching his chin once. Then twice. Soon he was attacking his skin like his life counted on it. Oh no! I took a closer look and sure enough, his face and neck were showing signs of a major reaction. I gave him Benadyl and watched him closely with an epipen nearby. Luckily after an hour, he was back to his normal self and the hives/swelling had disappeared. When my husband came home and I told him about what happened, he was like, “Oh hmm. He must have the same allergy I have. I’m allergic to fresh water fish, but I can have salt water fish.” Really? The water the fish lives in makes a difference! Good heavens.

Today, I went grocery shopping. Again I posted on Instagram my meal plan and the cash I was going to use.#bestgroceryshoppingever All was going well until I got to Whole Foods. I practically brought the entire store. Forget Whole Paycheck! Lets just say Whole Store! I knew what I was doing. Feelings of guilt for poisoning my child was materializing into buying every vegan and dairy, gluten and soy-free product the store had to offer. Yet I somehow couldn’t stop myself. What should have been a $35 bill ended up being $137! What the gluten free bread?! I know, I know. CFOmom fail! When I got home, I immediately redid my budget and pulled cash from other envelops to make up for the difference. It’ll be tight but I think we will be okay. I am also going to try to increase our food budget next to make room for this dietary needs.

Have you ever had a moment when you knew you were making a mistake and why you were making that mistake, but still couldn’t stop yourself?

 

It’s been so long…

Happy New Year! Yes, it has been that long since I wrote a blog post! This is my official first post of the new year. It’s a shame, I know! I just took a glance at the goals I created for myself for 2017. While the first three still are in the works, I have shifted focus on #4. I no longer am working to pay off my mortgage early. This is a dramatic shift from what this blog has been about. My entire blogging presence has mostly been consumed with one financial goal: kill the mortgage! Ever since November, I have been re-evaluating life and finally have realized: I have no idea what my long-term plan is. Here are few factors I am dealing with:

  1. Husband’s job – in his 10+ years working at his company, he’s seen layoffs happen often. We are both realistic that at some point, his time may come. He is predicting that he has about 5-10 years with the company, but it could be more or less. I like to think in worst case scenarios; in 2021, he could lose his job. Or he could work at that company until he retires.
  2. My job – My position in grant-funded and ends June 2022. There is a slight chance it will be renewed, but most of us are thinking it wont be. Thus, I am out of a job in 2022. I would love to be able to shift to freelancing at that point.
  3. I really want to move. I’ve tried to pray and journal a way this feeling, but it is not going anywhere. Either I embrace it or continue to fight this feeling every day. I am leaning towards a new home. Whether we sell our current home or use it as a rental property is another layer of complexity.
  4. My kids are going to attend college in 8 and 11 years, with one year overlap. They could get scholarships or we could end up with 100% of their cost. Of course we always have the choice of whether to pay or not. But it is something we have decided we value and that we are going to at least give them some funds for college.

Here’s what we are currently doing mostly by default:

  1. Husband – contributes 10% of his income to a retirement account along with 5% from his employer
  2. Me – contributes 7% of my income to a 401K which is matched by my employer. I also contribute $25 each month to a Roth IRA
  3. House – we are currently paying on a 15 year mortgage with a 2.8% interest rate. We are also saving 100% of my paychecks for a down payment on a new home. We currently have $14K saved of the $90K we need.
  4. College funds: We are contributing $25 a month for each child.

So there you have it! More information that you ever needed to know about our financial situation. One of the things I love about blogging is feedback! What grade would you give us?  What would you do if you were me?

December Goals!

I decided to take a little break from stressing over money for December. Here are my goals:

I am actually enjoying blogging less so we will see where this blog goes in 2017. Hope everyone is well!

No Spend November – How Did I Do?

November is almost over. This month has definitely taught me alot! Here’s my end of the month review:

General Reflections

  1. Create a zero-based budget – 100% Success! I don’t think I can ever go back to my old budget. It really helps giving every dollar a job.
  2. Use a cash envelope system food, eating out, kids, charity, spending money. and myself – 70% Success! I was really good the first half of the month. Having cash vs. credit card curbed our spending tremendously. However, on the second half, I didn’t fill my envelops right away. As a result, I overspent in groceries and struggled to make up for the different the rest of the month.
  3. Create a weekly meal plan and grocery shop weekly – Fail! I know I should, but I hate doing it. Fun read: Meal Planning is Like Food Prison
  4. Eat leftovers and try for a zero wasted food – 80% Success Since I overspent on groceries, I have been very vigilant in trying to make sure it lasts.
  5. Spending fast: buy only needs –Fail I had 10 days were I brought stuff that I didn’t need.
  6. Use coupons/discounted gift cards – 50% SuccessI did get some good Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. 
  7. Buy used or second hand – Fail I didn’t buy anything used this month.
  8. Goal: 15 no spending days – 100% Success! Final total – 16 no spending days! 
  9. Get invited somewhere for Thanksgiving  – 100% Success Except now I want a new house.

I am so ready for December! How did your month go?

These Weren’t the Broke Joneses

Many of us have heard the famous quote often attributed to Dave Ramsey, “Stop keeping up with the Joneses. They’re broke.” It is supposed to be inspirational  and remind us that often the grass only looks greener on the other side. But what about when it actually is?

One of the biggest struggles I have had for a long time is wanting a new house. Every time I visit a friend or neighbor, I return with “new house fever”.  I am blessed to have many wonderful opportunities to network with individuals with high-salary careers through my various volunteer and charity work. The downside of this is I am constantly fighting of house envy. Normally I find one or two things in each home I visit that isn’t desirable for me (distance from my work, who wants to clean such a large home, etc). Or I tell myself that they probably are the broke Joneses.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I was invited to three different homes.The first one was my absolute dream home. If I were to list everything I have ever wanted in a house, it would be that one.  I joked with the host that he should help me convince my husband to move. He laughed and then actually shared solid financial advice on how he was able to purchase this home and two others. Yeah, he wasn’t a broke Mr. Jones.

The next day, my best friend invited us over to her incredible home. I have seen it before but this was the first time my kids were with me. She let them play outside in her spacious backyard as we sat in lawn chairs to make sure they didn’t fall into the pool.She did not have to tell me her financial story. As a single mother, she purchased a modest home when the housing market was at it bottom. She met and married the love of her life a few years later. Together they sold both of their homes and were able to purchase the amazing home they have. Mr and Mrs. Not Broke Jones.

Then on Sunday, I picked up my daughter from a friend’s house. Her family had recently moved and I was given the tour of the new home. Once again, they had an incredible backyard with a beautiful pool. They were able to purchase this new home and are renting out their previous home. Potentially they are the broke Jones, but somehow I don’t think so!

Seeing my kids play and run around in all three backyards has ignited a fierce desire in me. I want them to have daily access to a backyard!  Our backyard is parallel to a main street and I just do not feel it is safe for them out there. Also no matter what we have tired, grass refuses to grow. Literally the grass IS greener (and alive) on the other side. This whole year I have been focused completely on paying of my current mortgage. The honest truth is, I don’t want to live in this house forever. Try as I might, I don’t think I will be content here in the long run. Seeing these three families have wonderful homes makes me feel like it is possible and not a completely crazy dream to have. So I think I am going to go for it.

My crazy dream: 2019 – New House and rent out current home, 2022 Pay of Current home, 2034 Pay of new home. Lets do this!

I am curious what your thoughts are. Any advice for me? Am I crazy? 🙂

 

Mid-Month Review: No Spend November

Since deciding to slow down my blog posts, I have made an effort to spend less time online. I wavier between wanting to stay informed and up-to-date with my friends/family and wanting to give my brain a rest from the constant bombardment of Black Friday ads, political news and mannequin challenge videos. I still have a long way to go regain some mental “white space”.

As far as my “No Spend November” goes, I had some great success initially. At the beginning of the month, I pulled out cash to last until the 15th (my husband gets paid on the 1st and 15th of each month). I carefully spent per category when needed and adjusted my cash envelops when an unexpected bill came our way. We were able to add $1,625.34 towards our goal of paying $10K on our mortgage by 12/31/2016. We ended the pay period with $14 leftover.In addition to using cash, I have been working hard to have no spending days. So far this month, I have had 10 days where no money left our accounts or cash envelops. Three days, I spent money on bills and needs only. Unfortunately, there have been six days where I brought things that were not budgeted for.

The best part of using cash only has been my husband’s spending funds. Typically I never really know how much he will spend each paycheck and make adjustments as he uses the credit card. Having a set amount dedicated to him has helped tremendously. I no longer need to check our online banking a million times a day. Plus, giving him a limit has reduced his spending. He didn’t use all of $200 and I was able to reallocate some of it to the unexpected bill. This is definitely something I plan to keep doing.

Despite all the success I had, I did not immediately take out cash on the 15th of the month. Part of me was focusing on seeing how long I could go without spending money. I feared that once I removed the cash, I would find ways to buy something. For the most part, it worked. I had an amazing 5 day streak where I focused on not spending or using gift cards if there were items I needed.  Then Friday, November 18th happened. I attempted to beat the holiday crowds by doing grocery shopping before work. I was rushed and did not do a great job of really meal planning. I broke my rule and tried getting groceries for two weeks instead of a week. Not only did I go over budget for food/groceries, I am realizing I didn’t buy some of the main staples I will need like bread and vegan items for my son. I also used my credit card to make all the purchases. As a result, I over spent on three budget categories by $56.84. I am feeling a bit defeated since I know all of this could be avoided had a stuck with the rules I set up for myself. 

So where do I go from here? Today I will readjust my budget and pull out the cash I need. I will focus on limiting spending. I’ve hit my November goal for how much I wanted to save this month towards the $10K. Now I just need to make sure that I don’t have to pull those funds out of the payoff account for any reason.

How are your November goals coming?