I’ll never forget the day I was cruising around Ann Arbor, MI with my mom when we passed a place called “The Relax Station.” It’s a drop-in massage parlor. Not of the “happy ending” variety like those in my ‘hood, entered and exited by old dudes in the evening hours, run by the Asian mafia and staffed by sex slaves, etc.
No, no this was a legit little place that takes walk-ins.
“Ooooh, massages! Julie let’s get massages.”
My mom ripped her VW Bug into the parking lot.
And we did.
Of course, after the massages, we got coffees. A latte and a chai. And then, we complained about the massage people talking to each other and taking phone calls during our chair massages. As if. Not relaxing, relax station!
Any way, I only bring that up, because on Day 1 of the spending freeze I declared last week, the first move I made was to sign up for a massage at work. Students from a nearby massage therapy school are at my workplace each Monday. The school charges $1/ minute and you can’t tip. I was really gonna pull the wool over Mark’s eyes. I’d pay with a payroll deduction. He’d never know…mwahahahahahahahhaha.
As if. Not thrifty, self!
The good news is, I walked into my appointment and the student massage therapist hadn’t shown up. I waited 10 minutes, during which time I came to my senses.
NO. Bad. NO NO.
Being impulsive is fun. UGH.
I would never call denying yourself a back rub a hardship. I’m just saying. UGH.
So wanted one.
I mean, what can I say about our spending freeze week? We did some good things, we did some bad things. I forgot to budget Father’s Day! I always forget special occasions until the day before…or after.
Here are a few successes, failures, and what I learned:
Successes: No dinners out, no boredom shopping, no impulsive chair massages, no coffees bought. Yay! Mark and I used babysitting budget to get out together and go to a baseball game for which I had free tix.
Busted: Beer at the “free” baseball game!
Busted: I don’t regret it. Ahhhhh, summer.
Successes: Found free stuff to do all weekend, including but not limited to, a trip to the world’s first pigeon museum.
Busted: McDonald’s snacks ’cause we became starving and moody whilst out and about.
Success: Free Father’s Day outings to different parks
Busted: Impulsive last-minute spending spree for Father’s Day gifts. Oh…
So that’s that. Without calling it a freeze, we’re going to need to be more careful.
Those are little expenses to lots of people, but our financial M.O. seems to be death by 1,000 cuts.
I’m going to bet we cut in about $150 into a roughly $200 buffer zone on our monthly budget with just a few thoughtless extras.
Also, we didn’t spend cash at the grocery store. Need to do that this week. We always spend less when we do that.
I’d like to tally up our debts but haven’t had the time. Out of nowhere, we got hit with a bunch of little bills. Like, oh, hey, you need an MRI and possibly knee surgery. That’ll be six Benjis, to start. WTF.
I started to do a little freelance writing to kick these bill buggers down. So there’s that. That is good.
I thought I could use the extra cash from my writings to save for a trip to Spain. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Not happening. Yet.
More like, we’re going to use it to pay off debt and save.
To bring this all back to our new life with Eli, we want to save for a future that will surely be wonderful, but may include chronic disease surprises. Maybe a hospitalization. Maybe a cure. Then there is college – For Eli, for Laila, too. And we do want to save for trips. Exploring our world is a top priority, whether close to home or somewhere exotic. Oh yeah, we’d love a home. Some day, retirement! For all of that, we gotta try hard, because we are just a coupla Yahoos in the middle who opted for more of the ‘civic service’ – style careers rather than the ‘captain of industry’ type deals. Well you know what? The world needs people like us, too! Maybe one day we’ll
sell out wise up, but not today!
Anyhow, knowing that chronic disease is the most expensive gift anyone could ever wish to receive, we strive to be like the Boy Scouts: prepared. But as you can see, there is much work to be done and plenty of room for improvement. I try to chronicle money on Mondays in this category.
I got great budget tips from reader Beth. Hi Beth! She recommended keeping separate checking accounts — one for bills and one for spending money. We might give this a go. For now we have a checking and a savings. She also wisely uses a spreadsheet for a monthly budget so she can copy/paste expenses month to month. She and her man DropBox it so the document is shared. Good idea! I might do something similar with Google Docs, and yes, Beth, I would love a copy of the format!
How do you, reading public, feel about two checking accounts – one for bills and one for spending?
Any other tips? Always takin’ ’em. THANKS