Last year Tech Support and I resolved to set tighter limits on our “frivolous” spending. We wanted to direct more money towards our two big financial goals – paying down the mortgage and traveling more. But we needed permission to buy ourselves the occasional gift or treat, so we didn’t snap at the daily restrictions and do something drastic, like, I don’t know, paying $10,000 for a real live unicorn.*
This is how the Five Dollar Jar was born. At the beginning of each month, Tech Support deposited $50 in five dollar bills into two jam jars, and we were allowed to spend it on anything we wanted.
It worked like a dream. Because we had a budget, we had to think carefully about what “frivolous” items we really wanted, and that thoughtfulness actually made us less likely to spend money at all. I even finished the year $20 up!
This year, we’re adding a new layer – we’re going to put the receipts in the jar when we take the money out. Not only with this help us remember whether we’ve actually withdrawn the appropriate funds, but we’ll know exactly where the cash is going. I expect the results will be pretty interesting.
I also expect that I’m going to have to borrow against future months, because I’m going to the SCBWI Conference in New York this February. Broadway tickets and autographed books definitely count as frivolous – especially at the current exchange rate!
What about you? Was getting control of your budget one of your New Year’s Resolutions? What strategies do you use for tracking your spending? Share your tips in the comments!
* Can one buy a unicorn for $10,000? If so, tell me where! 😀