Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Saving the savings.

I'm thrifty. I love a bargain. But I have trouble holding onto the money I've "saved".

You see, I rarely have cash in hand, and I have a hang up about using the debit card unless I have the go-ahead from Jake. (He deals the most with the checkbook and bills, so he has the best sense of how much is in the account at any given time.) Yes, I COULD run the card for a small purchase, but then I also have to save the receipt, enter the purchase, yadda yadda... And I have to admit - since I don't have a "job" that gives me a paycheck, I feel weird about spending anything on little luxuries, since I didn't "earn" that money. I mean, we could get into the dollar value I represent as a housekeeper, cook, teacher, daycare provider, but the fact is that doesn't bring dollars INTO the house. I do have a few sidelines - babysitting, massage therapy, and of course, my (tiny) book royalties. Nothing that brings in the big bucks on their own.

So when I DO have a little cash on hand, I tend to say yes to the little purchases that I usually say no to. I usually justify it as a treat, or something I've been wanting for a while. We're talking small amounts here - less than $5, usually. $10 is quite a splurge. Like - we're heading home from some errands, we're getting hungry. If I have $5 in my pocket, I'm likely to stop for some fries for everyone to hold us over until we're home.

I know, they're small amounts. And that's how I justify the spending to myself - it's just a few dollars. I'm not one of those shop-till-you-drop, shopping for entertainments-sake types. But when I say that, I'm reminded of the Pharisee that would publicly thank God that he wasn't like that lousy tax collector over there. The tax collector who tore his clothes, put dust in his hair, and said "have mercy on me, a sinner" outside the temple, and who was closer to God as a result. He faced his problems rather than saying "at least I'm not as bad as that guy", confessed his sins, and recognized what was wrong.

But in any case, the money dribbles out of my hands... UNLESS I have a goal to save for. If I don't have something concrete in mind, I won't save the money. That includes far-off, abstract things like college savings for the kids, retirement... it's not immediate enough, and there isn't a good reachable end goal in sight. But when I have a small, reachable goal to earn towards, I'm much more motivated to put that money away rather than spend it. I this case, I've decided to save $500 to put an electric motor kit on my bike. It's something I've wished I could afford even before I bought the big bike.

So I decided that all my earnings from my little side lines are getting funneled into my electric bike kit fund. I'm surprised at how quickly it's starting to add up. I was allowing myself to feel a little pathetic for a while, being the homemaker who doesn't have a salary of her own, while totally ignoring the income I do have from various side hustles. I needed to claim and harness the power that I already had. I'm now a bit over halfway to my goal.

I also needed to stop feeling guilty about NOT spending the little side income on gas and groceries - that's all in the main budget. If we were in a tight place and having trouble meeting our bills, then yes, my side income would be needed for that. But right now that's not the issue - our bills are being paid, and gas and groceries are covered. But if I used that little bit of side money for daily needs, it all just gets absorbed into the main budget. Yes, it benefits the whole family, but then I start feeling put-upon because I didn't get any personal benefit from my work. So that's another reason I would spend those dribbles of money on fries - it was my little reward. Now I'm working to make my little reward a BIG reward!

Reachable goals, man - they make a difference!

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