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like sand through my fingers

Recently, I’ve been spending money like it’s going out of style.  Which, in a way, it is.  I’ve been called a spendthrift many a time, but for all the name-calling, I do ok when it comes to saving.  Well.  It’s all relative, right?  Depends on who you’re comparing me to.

I have a good plan – I hide my money from myself.  Money is taken straight out of my check for my 401(k), and two savings accounts – before I even get my share (which goes to my checking).  Then – out of my checking account, comes more money towards a high-interest savings account.  That leaves me with enough to pay my bills.

For everything else – there’s MasterCard.

Basically, I pay for everything I possibly can, using my credit card.  This is because I get cash back on purchases, and I don’t get anything back from using checks, or my check card, or cash.  I rarely even carry cash anymore.  [So when I’m at work and feenin’ for a bag o’ chips, you can find me digging through all the crevices in my purse, or biting the bullet and sticking a freakin’ $20 bill in the change machine.  I know.  I’m half-crazy.  Anyway.]  But I was reading an article about how using credit cards makes people spend more, and it got me thinking.

I can completely attest to the fact that I spend more freely because I know I can just pay off the card by the end of the month.  Of course, I have to keep things within reason [i.e. within a range I can actually pay off].  The problem with that is that I sometimes forget what I spend, or what my current balance is.  So when I looked at my bill last week and it was much higher than I wanted it to be, I was a tad bit peeved with myself.

Generally speaking, my financial philosophy can be summarized thusly: I view myself as a conduit for money to pass through, in order for me to get the things I want/need.  I am not a money storage facility.  This is why I have to take every step I can into fooling myself into thinking I have less money than I actually have – so I won’t spend it.  And if I know that I’ve got money somewhere, it needs to be a lil bit harder to get to – so I won’t spend it.

Knowing myself is really half the battle.

But anyway, I had been doing well for a while, and then things kinda crept up on me…within the last month, I’d say.  Every day I got off from work I didn’t feel like cooking.  So I ordered takeout, picked up fast food, etc.  That adds up.  Quickly.  Then there was my dad’s bday to prepare for, baby showers to buy gifts for, graduates to congratulate, my trip to HH, etc., etc., etc.

That doesn’t take into account my higher gas prices, which I don’t fully take into account, considering I don’t have an actual budget.  [Yes.  I know I’m supposed to have one.  But I can’t seem to make myself do it.]

So, this week, inspired by my friends who are also trying to get handles on their fiscal outlook, I decided to tighten my belt.  I am proud to say that I have eaten at home every night this week.

Baby steps, y’all.  Baby steps.

I’m really thankful, though, for the knowledge I’ve gleaned from people who have been looking out for me and my finances my family.  I coulda been in a bad way, because of my habits.  It wasn’t SO long ago that I carried a balance on my credit card and collections on my credit report.

I understand now, that I’ve got to maintain relationships with people who want to be as fiscally responsible as I do.  We have to encourage each other to keep our priorities straight.

And if we eat at each others’ houses, we won’t have to cook as often.

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