Our Strict Financial Plan, continued...

If you're reading this, you probably fall into two categories of readers. Either you are, one, a family member or close friend, and are a loyal reader 'by default' (Hey, ma. I love you!). Or, two, you are really interested in frugal, simple living.

Living that is not impactful on our earth or environment.

Living that focuses on your passions, rather than the rat race of American culture.

You and I, friend, have a lot in common.

You also probably enjoy meal planning, and making to-do lists, and budgeting your finances. Those things probably give you butterflies, huh?

Today, sweet readers, I simply want to update you on the loosy-goosy financial plan that John and I have established. Here's the first post we wrote on this topic, which included some random thoughts that propelled us into action a few months ago.

Then, after really tightening our belts when it came to spending, and paying off a TON of debt (i.e., everything but our mortgage and my student loan) we started our spending strike, which ended up being an amazing experience!

(By the way, have you heard of Sarah Baker's book, The Spending Strike? She is the one who inspired this whole idea. LIKE her on Facebook, and learn more!)

Since both of those posts, we've made some big life changes in the way we spend money, save money, and manage our finances in general.
For the first time since college, I had to make a decision about which bills to pay with which paycheck. This was a big deal, and a big change for me. Before I made the leap and started subbing 'for a living', I figured out how many days a month I needed to sub to pay my share of the bills (utilities, groceries, student loan, etc.) and contribute to my 403b retirement plan. As it worked out, I needed to sub about 2-3 days a week.

No problem. Especially since I get at least 8 calls per day to substitute.

However, I wasn't used to an inconsistent income. As a full-time teacher, I was getting paid once a month, and I always knew how much would be deposited into my account. All of my bills automatically were deducted from my account the day after payday. Simple, and mindless. Little did I know, this would shoot me in the foot when it came to really learning how to budget!

Now that I am paid on a weekly basis, depending on the pay periods of each school district in which I sub, it's actually harder for me to budget. Some weeks I get a $150 check, others a $600 check. It's nice that I don't have to wait until the end of the month to be paid anymore, but that also means I can't pay all of the bills I am responsible for on the same day. I have to pay one bill one week, and another the next. This is killing me; not because it's hard, but because I am on such a damn leaning curve!

Sometimes there is more week left at the end of the money, and that's pretty stressful because it's a new feeling for me. We're financially secure, but because of these 'routine' changes, I feel out of whack. To alleviate my stress about money, and ensure those 'bad weeks' when my bank account reads $53.14 are few and far between, we've changed how we operate. At least until I can re-teach myself how to budget.
  • We rarely eat out. Sometimes on Wednesday's we'll meet a group of friends for a game of Name That Tune and $3 taco bar at a local restaurant, but that's pretty much it.
  • We have happy hour parties at our house, or meet at the homes of our friends and family, instead of going out for drinks. I can't even imagine how much money we've saved because of this! And, we like beer. We're beer drinkers at heart. So, having a case of brew on hand at home instead of running to the pub for some football and a frosty are more economical. We've even gotten in the habit of listening to a game on the radio, grabbing a beer, and working on a home project.
  • Gift-giving is either an appropriate amount of cash, or a reasonable gift that person has specifically asked for. To us, it's pointless to purchase a gift for someone when we don't really know if they want it, would be interested in it, or would even use it! So, we're either going to give that person cash, or a gift they've specifically mentioned. Call it tacky to give cash as a gift if you wish - we call it smart.
  • I continue to pack my lunches when I'm subbing, and John also packs a lunch to work. There are always leftovers from dinner the night before, or something random I can throw together.
  • I consign everything, especially if it is in good shape and I haven't used it in a long time. There's no reason to miss the chance to get some money for something valuable! And, with second-hand shopping being really popular right now {and not just in our area}, this really increases the value of our nicer things that we no longer need.
  • John and I haven't {really} shopped for new clothing or shoes in over 6 months. The exceptions, for me, was a pair of jeans {that were 60% off} for a special occasion, a pair of black tights I needed to wear with my skirts and dresses for work, and a name brand spring/fall jacket I found at a consignment shop for $12. To be honest, I thought this would be harder than it was. 
I feel like I am a long way from feeling comfortable with a new budgeting system. Do ya hear me? Am I alone here? You know, I'd feel a lot better if you'd tell me that you know exactly what I'm talking about, and I'm not nuts. 

Leave a comment. My ego depends on it. 


  1. Great post Kelli! We have been doing the Dave Ramsey system for a year now. It has changed our lives. We've paid off a TON of debt and use only cash for purchases. We no longer have any credit cards. Was it hard to give up that lifestyle? Hell yes! But looking back I wonder why we didn't do it sooner. We give each other an "allowance" each week and that is ALL the money I have (it isn't much). So if I want to spend it all on lunch with girlfriends I can....or if I want to spent it on one item at a clothing store that is my decision, but once it is gone it is gone. It's pretty strict, but truly it has helped our finances tremendously not to mention our marriage. Great job....keep it up!

    1. We did Dave's plan for about a year and paid off our credit cards and my car - booya! Then we kind of went back to a 'normal' system when we felt like we achieved our goals. I think it might be time to go back to the envelope system!

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