Saturday, November 24, 2007

Spending Triggers - Do You Know How To Spot Your Triggers and Not Give In?

No Credit Needed has been running a series on 33 Days and 33 Ways to Reduce Debt and Save Money. His most recent post challenges us to identify our spending triggers.

As NCN points out in the post:
"If you are aware of your ’spending triggers’ you can
A) avoid situations where you might be tempted to overspend.
B) discuss your financial goals with your friends and family, so that they will be “on your side” (helping and not hurting).
C) be absolutely committed to living on a budget."

Personally, my biggest spending trigger is the need to spend time with others which usually entails a meal or beverages. Its amazing how much money is spent if I don't keep a stringent eye on this category. Anyone following this blog will attest that I have made this a subject of my monthly goals and it is usually the one that falls short.

So, when you are kicking a habit whether its smoking, eating, drinking, biting your nails, shopping, etc. the first rule of thumb is to know your trigger so you can take steps to prevent it. As an ex-smoker, I knew that I had to change where I had lunch since I usually had a few cigarettes when I finished eating. Instead, I brought lunch to work, saved money by packing my lunch and not smoking. In my efforts to kick my spending habit on meals, I am working on stocking my kitchen with appealing meals and making lunches ahead of time so I don't have to think about it in the morning before work.

Holiday Season Challenge - Planet Friendly Wrapping

For this season, I've made a goal for myself to use only planet friendly wrapping. Think reduce, reuse, recycle. Instead of wasting wrapping paper that's been chemically treated and ribbon that is made out materials that won't break down in the landfill, consider other options.

Reduce -
- Instead of buying rolls and rolls of paper just to get different designs, swap old patterns with friends to get variety.
- Use containers or materials that can be reused for other purposes, cloth bags that can be used again, a kitchen towel tied with a ribbon, or a decorative bowl.

Reuse -
- Save decorated bags and reuse them for other presents.
- Packing materials can be reused over and over again. My office gets a lot of gift baskets. Once everything has been eaten, claimed, and picked over, I grab the seltzer (the shredded paper used for filler) before its thrown away to reuse for packing or my own baskets.

Recycle -
- Use the end of newspaper rolls as wrapping paper and let kids decorate it or pull out your crayons and try a doodle or two yourself.
- Use those great paper bags with handles that you get from stores and cover up the logo with a decorative, fabric cut out.

Even if you only make one adjustment in your tradition it will have a big impact not just on the planet, but also on your budget!

Happy Thanksgiving... the day after

I really want to say how thankful I am to have to opportunity to be part of this great blogging community of debt reduction and personal finance. I have had some interesting challenges lately, but have been able to refocus on my priorities because of the great feedback I've received. I hope that I've been able to return the favor once or twice as well.

This week I completed one house sitting job, started another, and put up Thanksgiving orders for a bakery I used to work for. Thanks to all of this extra work, I am able to reach one of my November goals and repay my step father for money I borrowed in June.

Tis the season to pick up extra work and I will add that to my list of December goals. It will help offset the cost of my visit to see dad especially with such a horrible exchange rate. I'm not sure how much additional debt I'm going to be able to pay off.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Update to the Quiet Time

I have made some very positive steps towards paying off my debt and I've made some very big steps backwards as well. First, I will only complete part of my goal for the "Reduce A Bill Challenge." I will complete my goal of 10 No Spend Days and will even have a day or two more than the original goal but, I have not kept to my goal of limiting my spending on meals out. December will be a great time for keeping that number down as vendor and company sponsored lunches will pay for most.

Next, I spent a lot of money on a plane ticket to visit my dad for Christmas. It was a difficult decision because I feel like I should be using that money to pay off some debt or build my emergency fund, but as a very smart reader pointed out you only have so much time to spend with family. Oh yeah, did I mention he's in Europe so it is even more difficult to pop over to see him.

As long as I'm confessing my spending, I joined a gym again. I got a screaming deal and there is no long term commitment so I'm comfortable in that decision. I need to loose weight that I've been packing on since I quit smoking. Its affecting my health and its preventing me from doing things because I'm self conscious.

Now the good news... I've been house sitting for quite a few people which is helping to pay for my spending choices. I'm also helping out an old employer and putting up orders for Thanksgiving which will also bring in some spending money. At the end of the day, I will owe my dad for a plane ticket, but I will have paid off another credit card.