Since we do want to build back up our $10,000 emergency fund as quickly as possible (you can click here to read about the dental bills that are wiping it out), we have decided to do several things:
- Mr. BFS is signing up to officiate as many football games as possible between September and November. That should bring in about $4000.
- He is also looking into tutoring opportunities to use all of his teaching experience. Those can pay between $18-$25 pretty easily.
- I am looking for more babysitting and petsitting opportunities since I enjoy it. That doesn’t make a ton, but it’s fun to me.
- I may be taking a part-time marketing position for a friend of a friend’s air conditioning business since he needs some experienced help. We’ll see how that turns out by the end of this week or after we get back from our cruise.
- We are making sure to spend consciously. That means we literally think about every purchase we make to ensure it’s worth it.
The Return to True Conscious Spending
Mr. BFS and I aren’t spendthrifts. But if you’ve read my blog for even a week or two, you probably figured out that we are not in the “frugal blogger” niche at all either. We save at least 10% for retirement, invest at least 10% (either real estate or stocks), save for large other goals, and spend the rest. We truly believe it is possible to budget in a fun life even while you are responsibly handling your future. We live that way.
So, in the last few years, we have pretty much stopped sweating the small stuff. We have concentrated on the big picture and moved on with our lives. For example, we saved up more than $100,000 over 18 months to pay off our first home’s mortgage and to put down 20% on our new home at the same time. But we also splurge for $700 food bills each month, a $200 housekeeper, and $80 a month for lawn care. We prioritize regularly to make sure that we are getting the most use and enjoyment out of our money spent.
Honestly, I think that is the mentally healthiest way for us to live since I am detail-oriented to a fault when I really get going. BUT, we know we can shave off about $1000 a month in spending if we truly evaluate every purchase and only spend when it’s worth it to us.
So for the next few months at least, we are going back to our post-college selves. We are asking ourselves “This or the emergency fund?” about everything. So far, it has helped us avoid spending extra on convenience food, home stuff, and even a few little things that we just liked when we saw them on Amazon. Gifts are becoming a little cheaper but very thought out. We have started eating at home before we leave to meet friends somewhere. I’ve even been limiting myself to a one-drink minimum ($4) plus water at the karaoke bar I have started going to with our friend, B.
This is Most Likely Temporary
Based on these last couple of weeks, I know that we can totally do this for the rest of the year. But once our emergency fund is back up to $10,000, I bet we return to looking at the big picture. Analyzing every expense is work. It’s not difficult, but it also isn’t enjoyable. It was necessary years ago, but not now. I liked being able to aim for just not spending more than a certain target number. I understand that we splurged regularly, and I am okay with that. My main reason for not being a frugal blogger is that I think it’s generally a big time suck.
I value time way more than money. I waste it just like everyone else, but I like knowing that I am wasting it by choice when watching Dr. Who or something. Thinking about small expenses all of the time and avoiding $1 McDonald’s drinks is an excellent way to save up money fast, but in the end, I think that not worrying about stuff like that worked better for us.
We had to do it right after college to save up to buy our first house and get the life that we wanted. It makes sense to do it when times are tough. And we are choosing to do it now to save up $10,000 faster than we could by just waiting for it to accumulate.
Think of this as proof that conscious spending works. But on the flip side, it is also okay to choose a less frugal lifestyle (without going overboard) if you have the money to do so. I don’t think it’s healthy to live paycheck-to-paycheck since it’s super stressful and it all can crumble with one bad month. But I also don’t think that it’s necessary to crack down on yourself forever even when you are saving appropriately anyway. In short, finding your own happy balance is the key. Temporary visits to different sides of that balance can work too though, lol.
What do you think? Balance? Spendthrifty? Frugal? What is your way of living?
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $80,000-$100,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!