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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Starting the year off right......????

So, in an effort to get ahead of some bills, Hubby Dear and I agreed to a 2-month spending freeze.   YIKES!!!  We agreed that the only money that will be going out of the house is to pay bills and buy necessities for the family, and I'm finding that it is NOT a pleasant thing at all - even though it was actually my idea!!!

Let me give a little explanation as to why we decided this.....Last year, in an effort to save some money, I researched insurance plans - like I do every year prior to open enrollment - and thought I found the best plan for our family's needs.  Well, that might have been true on the medical/health care side, but it decreased our dental coverage....whoops!  SO, since late last year, I've been working to pay off the expenses that weren't covered by our separate dental insurance - to the tune of over $500!  THIS year, I switched us back to a slightly more expensive health insurance, but one that has basic dental coverage included, in addition to having separate dental insurance and vision insurance.  The reason behind the insurance coverage being the way it is, is really to help with my daughter's braces, the fact that all 3 of us wear glasses, both children need to have some teeth pulled (for daughter it's her upper baby canines, for son, it will be his wisdom teeth particularly since one is sitting to where it will be coming out through the front of his gum instead of the top)....having the additional insurance will help minimize what we pay out of pocket.  YES, it means more coming out of the single paycheck that is earned, but in the long run, that amount is less than what we would have to pay if we didn't have the extra coverage.

OK, so back to the spending freeze.  I have 2 children - a 12yo boy and a 9yo girl.....they both want "STUFF" and are having trouble understanding that they aren't getting it because we are on a freeze.  Of course, we've never done a spending freeze, so now they are both freaking out that we are "poor"....argh!  This is where I would like to suggest that, when they get to an age where they can understand, have a talk with your children about financial matters.  NO, you do NOT need to get into all the details about the family finances, but a simple explanation about income vs. outflow and putting money aside for the future or for unexpected expenses is ALWAYS a good thing - and definitely a discussion that should be had BEFORE they start working or head off to college, etc.

One of the things we've discovered is that we were buying a LOT of the "impulse buys" when we were out getting things we needed - we don't do that anymore.  We make a point to have a list and stick to it and try our best never to go shopping when we are hungry because that just makes the final total higher than it needed to be.

I took my oldest (home schooled boy) shopping with me last Friday because we needed a few things to get the meal plan to reach the next pay period, and I think we only bought 2 things off the list, mainly because they were healthy snack options that both he and his sister could have with their lunches or before bed....the rest of the time was strictly by the list, and after 2 stores we had gotten everything (Sharp Shopper first, then Kroger).  I have to sit down and finish the meal plans, but we have enough to get us through the end of the month which is awesome (I had planned through the 17th, but the next pay period was a few days after that), and we have enough things for home lunches, snacks, dinners, etc.

We have NOT gone to Books A Million (but probably will this weekend since both children received gift cards as Christmas presents) because we've hardly ever walked out of there without spending over $60 (usually closer to $100!).  This visit, the children get to use their gift cards and Hubby and I will supervise so that they don't become one of "THOSE" children causing disturbances and annoying other shoppers.  Other than that, we're just hanging out and enjoying the day.

The children have asked about their allowances....funny, they haven't been earning them, so they haven't been receiving them.  They don't seem to see the connection at all, but I suppose a few more months of not having money to spend and parents not just randomly buying things for them and maybe they will figure it work = no pay and in this case, their chores are written on a HUGE whiteboard, so they shouldn't need constant reminders...even so, they have not been doing the chores, and those that have been done (feeding animals) have only been done with reminders.....argh....this is probably not my favorite lesson to teach them, but they HAVE to learn financial responsibility BEFORE they get released on the world at large!!!

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