Time for Change: Making Our Money Work Harder For Us

I might well have taken off time from working hard this past week and not spent a lot of time doing any hard thinking on much but there is one area where I've decided it's time to change what we've been doing in the past.  It began with a plan that fell through...

I was really disappointed this week to find I could not pay off the house insurance in full as I'd thought I'd try to do.  Mind you, we've been making monthly payments on that insurance for the 21 years we've been here, so there's no shame in making monthly payments again, but it just seemed to me that paying off the house and car insurances in one swoop would free up a bit of our funds. 

Well...It was a nice try on my part. I did save a good bit but not enough to pay it off. I wrangled figures and I simply cannot swing it. At best, I can manage just about half.  So I'll make that first payment.  It has, however, made me determined to do all I can to front load all those annual fee accounts and set those funds aside in full, immediately.  I've thought long and hard about this and how to go about it.  I said earlier in the year I'd use overtime, windfalls and holiday pay in smarter ways.  It seems to me that tackling those small fees and annual renewal accounts first with those monies and having it all set aside is a good way to do that.  I can put them in a separate savings account meant just for that purpose. 

I think this shift in thinking has been growing over the last few years.  It began with my birthday and Christmas monies which I used to fritter away.  I realized one year that if I had a plan for spending, I'd have more to show for those gift monies at year's end.  So I sat down and made out a list of things I wanted for my wardrobe and home and was able to purchase many of them.  I was so pleased that I vowed I'd spend those funds in that way every year.  I called it 'making my money work harder for me.'   That was the opposite of what I'd been doing: working harder for my money. 

We've trimmed and cut and hacked away at our budget and frankly these areas I mean to address are about the last frontiers of change.  It was a great idea at the time we began making monthly payments on insurances and setting aside a monthly amount towards annual fees that we experience.  It's a smart way to insure that we don't dip into savings over and over and over again throughout the year.  However, these last two years with this short pay period each month has meant we've had to stretch funds harder than ever when overtime is nonexistent.  This past pay period I had to use money set aside earlier in the month as savings to purchase groceries.  I knew then that while that was a good solution this time, it wasn't something I wanted to do every month.  And the only way I can insure I don't, is to change the distribution of those ancillary funds we keep.

As well, I realized that we've hit another of those 'set point spending' totals in two areas: credit card and groceries.   The credit card is my thing.  I do pay it off in full every single month but I've gotten into the habit of using it and there really isn't a good excuse for it a good bit for a sale on a clothing piece here or a pair of pillow covers there.  So as of now, that has to stop.  I know this and I mean to fix it.  That card has one auto charge that goes on it each month.  There's nothing I can do about that.  It's for a service we receive and the only way we could acquire it was to do an auto charge.  Hopefully this year we can switch providers and cease that automatic charge, which I confess does affect my thinking about the credit card.  I tend to say, "Oh well I've already got a charge on the card for this month, I can spare the extra, so I'll just charge 'x' and it will only be 'y' total.  The trouble being I forget I charged 'x' and I end up charging 'z' and 'w' as well and it's Yy instead.  It's a bit of spending that isn't making my money work harder,  even if it is interest free at the time.  I can do better.  No more charges for my personal spending.

The grocery area is a little trickier, but fortunately I've done this with another store or two before and I know how to retrain my thinking.   I have gotten in the habit of purchasing for the pantry as well as current needs.  I've only two or three gaps in my pantry at the moment. Now's a great time to stop buying for the pantry and start buying only what I need to get through the pay period for a short period of time.  By the end of this year (4 pay periods), I should have done two things: changed the set point spending total and have a far clearer idea of what it really costs us on a month to month basis to purchase groceries.  I'll use those figures to better my budgeting skills in this area for next year's annual budget. 

So there you have it.  Three areas I mean to change now so that I can make my money work harder for me and decrease the need for us to work harder for our money.


Lana said...

Ugh! Sorry about that insurance bill. We have done our car insurance monthly for years and need to remedy that but hubby prefers it on a monthly plan from something that happened a long time ago.

When we paid off our house I set up an escrow fund of our own to cover taxes and insurance each year and that money is automatically transferred to savings each month. This gets recorded in my budget ledger sheet so that I know how much is in that account. I know that we are putting too much in that fund each month but hubby wants it to stay that way so that we do not fall short. So be it. It does give me peace of mind since those are major bills every year. Our property was reassessed by the county this year so I am hoping our taxes do not skyrocket.

I am always quite surprised by how little I actually need to buy when I have made my menus and then my grocery list each week. I have been working hard on reducing how much I keep on hand here for over 6 months because it was too much. This month I did spend all of my grocery money and I suspect it will be that way through the end of the year. I really have to guard against overbuying for the holidays. Everything just looks so good on those beautiful holiday displays and they know that they are making us overspend!

Today when I did the budget for November I skimmed over bloated budget categories where we have not been spending much lately and have enough now to buy a new washing machine. Ours is dying a very painful death. We have to hold it down for it to spin anything heavy or it is banging and walking all over the place. Now I only wash things like that when hubby is home to hold it down. I am afraid it will destroy the new flooring in the laundry room. I have been determined to save enough for a Speed Queen since they are supposed to last 25 years. I am done spending $400-500 every 6 years for one that does not last. Our appliance repairman said that he has only ever been on a call to fix two of them in 14 years since they rarely need service. Here's hoping he is right but we do trust him since he has proven himself here and online reviews support his claim.

Debby in KS said...

It's great that you know the areas needing fixing and are looking at a new plan. Sometimes trying something new is the only way to determine whether it will work. I'm facing a similar thing, but I haven't sat down to figure out how to fix it. I know it's not going to make me happy lol.

Debbie said...

I can so relate to you my friend. We are facing some big bills too so I am cutting back where I can. I just posted my personal grocery budget challenge for the month of November on my blog and how I hope to keep within it. Praying for you.

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