Spenders Vs. Savers

This is the start of a new blog for me.  I’m not new to blogging as I have a photography blog and my myspace blog but this one is a little different.  It’s devoted to money.  Well, actually-SAVING money.  Being a good steward of God’s blessings.  Getting out of debt.  All things that I am in the process of learning.  I want to share with you my triumphs (and failures!) as I try to live a more frugal and thrifty life.  I am still learning.  (I just wrote out my first budget EVER last week!  Prior to that time, the word budget was a four letter word to me!)  And I’d love advice, tips, words of wisdom as I start on this journey!

My first topic is about spending vs. saving.  My husband is a minister.  Whenever he marries a couple he does a little pre-marital counseling with them and one of the things that he always talks about is money.  Are you a spender or a saver?  How about your spouse-to-be?  This is important information to know!

Aaron is a big SAVER.  To the point where I sometimes call him stingy.  He is very frugal with his money.  He has a budget and he follows it.  He doesn’t care about the latest fads, fashions, or what the “Joneses” have.  That’s just not him.  It drives me crazy sometimes!  Me on the other hand, I’m a SPENDER.  Big time.  Always have been.  If I have a penny in my pocket, I’m going to try to find a way to spend it.  I have been this way as long as I remember.  My mom used to tell me that money burned holes in my pockets.  So you can imagine what happened when we got married.  Oh boy.  We had some pretty heated . . umm “discussions” involving money.  When we were first married I worked VERY part time.  Aaron supported us on his very meager income–we’re talking a couple hundred dollars a week people!  I can remember going to Food Lion with strict ‘orders’ not to spend over $35 a week.  We ate a lot of spaghetti (one reason that I hate it now!), lots of Hamburger Helper and lots of frozen burritos!  On the rare occasion that I had money to spend, I spent it at the thrift store.  I don’t remember buying a single new item of clothing for the first 2 years we were married! 

So then I started my career as a nurse.  Making my own money.  And it was good money too.  This new found ‘wealth’ was great!  But Aaron and I still fought over money.  He didn’t understand why I all of a sudden wanted to spend more than $35 a week on groceries!  (After all, it had been fine the first two years of our marriage, right?)  My thought was that we didn’t have to anymore!  We could eat steak every night if we wanted to!  I could buy CDs and DVDs when I wanted to.  We could even splurge on cable t.v.  It was MY money to spend how I wanted to!  I have always been very independent and the thought of him telling me how to spend my hard earned money just didn’t sit well with me! 

So after about a year of that, we got separate checking accounts.  And can I say that that one thing probably saved our marriage!!!!  Seriously.  If you and your spouse fight over money then split up the bills and get separate checking accounts!  We have not had a single fight over money since we did that one thing. 

So to get back to why I am doing this blog.  Even though I am very blessed with a good paying job I do not always make wise money decisions.  I have credit card debt.  The debt that I have has been carried over for several years.  Some of it is from my college days–doctor’s or dental appointments that we had no insurance to cover.  Veterinarian bills for our dog.  Eyeglasses that I couldn’t afford out of pocket (before I had vision insurance).  Living expenses for the extra 4 weeks I took off after my second daughter was born.  Little things here and there that I thought I ‘couldn’t help’ but put on my credit card.  (Looking back though if I had a BUDGET I probably wouldn’t have had to use it quite so often.)  So here I am stuck paying off things from years ago.  And I HATE IT.  I hate credit cards. 

So I have a plan. 

#1  My first step was writing a budget that MADE SENSE TO ME!  Aaron has tried to help me with this before.  But his way made no sense to me.  He gets paid the same thing every month.  I don’t.  My pay can vary by several hundred dollars each pay check.  His bills are constant–for the most part they are the same every month.  Mine are not.  Mine fluctuate with the exception of my mortgage and my car payment.  So I have written a bi-weekly budget outlining what I will pay from each check.  I want to start living off of less and placing the extra in savings. 

#2  Open a savings account.  Since I will be living off of less, I can put the extra in a savings account.  My employer will even direct deposit into both accounts which makes it even easier.  I’ll never see that money going into my savings!

#3  Decrease grocery budget!  This is the easiest place that I can see to decrease my expenses.  I was easily spending up to $500 a month on groceries!  We are getting this down to $400 to start off with and eventually I want to get it down to $300. 

#4  Coupons, coupons, coupons!  I never thought I could save money with coupons.  Now I am a firm believer.  It’s all about watching the sale papers.  For instance, last week I went to Food Lion for juice for communion at church.  I saw in the Food Lion paper that Welch’s was on sale 2 for $6.  I had 2 coupons for $1.50 off of each one.  I also had coupons for 2 free diet cokes.  I also bought a paper.  The lady rang me up and the total was $12.  Then she added in my MVP card and all my coupons and the total came down to $5!  She was even impressed by it!  If you take the time and you research the deals (including online) you really can save a lot.  A few places to try are Hot Coupon World, The Grocery Game and Couponmom     .

#5  Shop CVS.  This may sound a little weird.  I too was a little leary of this when I started but again I am now a firm believer in CVS!  I’ll post again tomorrow about why CVS is a great place for bargain hunters!  I plan to decrease my grocery bill by getting all my non-food items here.  Including diapers, beauty and hygiene products, etc. 

And that’s enough to begin with.  There are small changes here and there that I am making and I’ll be posting about those.  I also want to try to “Live Greener” and will be posting about that as well! 

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