The season has changed, and like leaves off the trees, I see my budget plans slipping away, into the cool autumn breeze…
There’s just something about fall that makes me want to spend, spend, spend.
I gotta confess:
I’ve been slipping up the money front. It’s so easy to be bad. Just a little bad. Not terribly bad. And yet, it’s so, so hard to be good.
Why is that? UGH.
I guess it started when we parted ways with nanny three weeks ago. Yes, another nanny. I miss nanny, but this was for the best. We’ve been patching together care while on a quest to find the new, (new, new, new) Mary Poppins. This has been a major point of stress. Then we all got sick. A host of work and various other deadlines spiked. In the last few weeks, I looked for comfort in the way I always had — and in the fall, it comes in the form of pumpkin spice lattes and fall fashion! This brand of comfort is delightful. It’s also expensive. We’re trying to be good and save some cash. Here are three pitfalls I’ve ID’d for myself in an attempt to get back on track. Hey, I never said I was perfect.
1. Fall fashion
Just the other day I got in and out of OKC’s new Nordstrom Rack without spending a dime. Miracles do happen. Tonight, Mark deployed me to Target. Eli needs new jammies, he relayed. Buddy boy also needs diapers. I came home with new jammies, diapers and fall baby wardrobe plus a few “must haves” for Laila. I mean — she’s in school now. She needs to look fashionable. Savings fail. About $167 flowed through my fingers, like butta, like it was nothing. Fail.
2. Fall crafts
Just yesterday I dispatched myself to Michaels for a craft project, baskets for a charity auction later this week. The baskets are full of baby goodies. It’s all about presentation, and my offering of cozy blankies made with love by kind souls had none. Zero. I needed to step up my game! I went to Goodwill for the baskets. Win. I already had pretty spray paint from a DIY project I did in my wildest dreams (the ones where I actually do things like that). Win. I got the basics from Michaels on a previous run – ribbon, on clearance, and a few flowers to, ya know, jazz it up. Then I ran out of ribbon.
Laila and I returned to Michaels. Laila and I raided Michaels. I mean — we had a 40 percent off coupon (for one item). BAM. $76-down the drain- although we do have a skeleton, Boo house, pumpkin decoration up on the walls SO FAR to show for it. Had I had any form of self control going on I would have spent more like…$16.
3. The pumpkin spice latte
The pumpkin spice latte and I go way back. It’s been my No. 1 go-to comfort “I deserve it” purchase every fall in recent history. Why do you have to taste so good, pumpkin spice latte? Why? Then, McDonald’s came out with one. It’s just as good! Pumpkin spice latte confessional: I bought three this month. What can I say? The weather changed. My stress and exhaustion levels scaled to new heights. And so “I deserved it.” Except, I actually didn’t.
Now that I feel rather like a sheepish loser, I’m going to go ahead and move forward. First, I have to say — self, I forgive you, for acting like a schmuck. Let’s do better. Some kind of strategy might help…
Plans of attack for change-of-season-slash-stress-purchases
1. First, I’m going to return all the kid clothes items to Target. Waaaaaaaa. Then, I’m going to do laundry. Waaaaaaa. Then, I’m going to cycle through Laila and Eli’s stuff, to see what they’ve outgrown.
Waaaaaa. I actually like this part because I like their little clothes. Then, I’m going to see what our boy cousins have to offer. ‘Cause you know I have a huge bin of 12 month clothes just sitting in the attic that I conveniently forgot about once I saw little man fall clothes at Target. If at that point Eli actually needs some things, I’m going to hit up some consignment and thrift stores. Since I’m on a roll, I’m going to, at some point in the next few weeks, go through my own clothes, cycle out too little, too big, too summer. At that point I’ll do the same thing – thrift, consign, discount. This is all very time consuming. Being good comes with its own price. There are the benefits, too – challenge of a hunt, more money in the bank.
2. Craft attack
I need to look up kid crafts that are more on the affordable side. I really do love that Michaels Creatology brand, with all those little foam thingies just begging to be put together with her itty hands into some adorable little doo hicky thingamajig! I think getting one of them once in a while is OK. The glut we walked away with yesterday was too much. Laila’ll never know the difference if I go the homespun route with her craft items. She’s 3. Making a pumpkin head with crayons, a glue stick and a paper plate will be the highlight of her week. 3 year olds are so gullible!
3. Pumpkin spice latte attack
My battle against the pumpkin spice latte is a symbol. I’m waging a financial battle. On one end, the pumpkin spice lattes, standing at attention, all steaming and spicy and sexy and easy to grab when “I deserve it.” On the other end of the battlefield, the wholesome and robust coffee pot and all my shiny to-go mugs, just standing there, being all reasonable and caffeinated and affordable. I’m in the middle every day and each side wants me to come on over. Every day it’s a battle between living too indulgently for my family’s savings goals and living in a way that’s minimal but not so insanely minimal that I give up. I’m trying to strike some kind of balance in my life that results in a savings account for us. Stripping out all lovely things is cruel, dull, and, long-term, not do-able. Buying myself a treat every time I’m tired or stressed out or on the go is a good way to waste a pile of cash, since I’m a parent, and on any given day, tired, stressed out and on the go.
I can’t get away with blaming the lattes for being all good and wonderful and irresistible.
I’m my own worst enemy in this battle. I just like blaming things like pumpkin spice lattes for my problems. What? It’s easy and fun.
So what’s it gonna be, pumpkin spice? Can I resist the spicy goodness? Am I powerless against you? No. Go ahead, watch me get pumpkin spice creamer from the grocer to put in my coffee brewed at home. Then I’m going to saunter on over to my coffee pot general and to-go mug soldiers and look across the battlefield and be all “In yo face!” pumpkin spice. You didn’t see that one coming, did you? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Not total restraint, not total indulgence. Something in the middle. Money in the bank. Victory will be mine.
Do you all have similar spending…issues brought on by my favorite season – fall? Do you have any great tips for cheap-o crafts, fashion and/or coffee or other fall treats? Well let me know….I’m strugglin’ here.
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I’m on a quest to save more and try to write about money each Monday for a series called Monday money madness. Look for money madness each week in my cash money category.