Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

April 24, 2013

Money Talks: We are Bad


I have some lofty goals for my Money Talks series (that I've been keeping up with on a monthly basis):
    1. Talk about money!!
    2. Share some of our money struggles.
    3. Share some of the ways we overcame (or are overcoming) our money problems.
    4. Share some tips.
    5. Get your advice!
    I started off the series by sharing a struggle of my own (frittering my money) and a tactic I'm using to keep looking at the big picture instead.  Then we shared our tips for paying off student debt faster and saving money without realizing it.  So you know we're student-loan free and save (some of) our cash.  Brag, brag, brag.  I think it's about time to share more pitfalls, no?  The overarching point of this series is for us to give each other our tips and tricks, but also to realize we're all human.  We make mistakes, we have weaknesses, but can still get ahead financially.

    Here are some current money weaknesses, and what we're doing/not doing about them.

    Charlie, the money-suck.
    I am sentimentally attached to a two-thousand pound heap of metal, my first car.  I was thisclose to donating him to charity, but then we went to get him from winter storage.  I took one look at his plucky green face and panicked.  Hubby and I have good memories in this car: I picked him up for our first date in Charlie, Hubs and I painted Charlie ourselves, and we had even planned to fix him up and race him (before we learned how much damn work that is).  Although we keep him in the summer, to use our single garage for our daily driver we store him in a facility for the winter, ranging from $60-$170 a month.  I know.

    Solution:
    Nope.  No solution.  To save that cash, we had planned to let him go.  BUT I CAN'T!!  Instead, we're going to look for a cheaper facility next winter and think about it for another year.  I could keep him in the garage and park our actually usable car in the driveway but having to scrape off the windshield in the winter makes me thunderously grumpy.  If all of our friends knew about this (especially when we say, "can we go to a less expensive restaurant, we're budgeting?" they'd think we're crazy but I figure it's better to blow this money than to ditch him and always regret it.  Right?  Argh.  This love affair is my biggest weakness.


    But I "need" it.
    I thought I was getting better at distinguishing "needs" and "wants," budget-wise.  Yes, I can put off buying luxuries until I've saved up and, yes, I (think I) know what we truly "need" (and it's not much) but I still can't wipe the word from my vocabulary.  I find myself telling Hubby "I need spray paint to paint the bar cart, "or "we need to replace the ugly light switches".  I need to eradicate that word from my vocabulary entirely because I think, in my heart of hearts, I am still having trouble distinguishing between need and want.

    Solution:
    No easy way and I'm sill struggling, seeing paint as a "need" when, truly, it isn't.  I'm just trying to catch it and correct myself.  Instead I try to say to Hubby, "hole in the head!" (as in, I need it like a) when I spot something I love, but don't need.  I'm also spacing these not-a-need purchases out, and planning projects - capitalizing on coupons, sales and using up all of my supplies instead of buying something new each time.


    House stuff.
    Truth be told, there are few things we need (aha - there's that word!) to buy for the townhouse.  There are some important projects left that will help resale, but we're really at the icing part.  Although I try to create affordable projects (like my recent framed agates), I need most of these things like a hole in the head (see?  I'm learning). 

    Solution:
    This is a toughie, especially because I work from home and log a lot of hours in the townhouse.  I like the space to look good, plus I constantly have ideas.  Creativity is my chill time, what keeps me sane.  So I'm trying to sell things to make extra money for superfluous projects.  Even though it took weeks (and so many "are they still available?" kijiji replies that went nowhere), I actually sold the two old white ceiling fans for $30 (sweet), so that $30 offset the cost of the new agate art!  Also, although it seems contradictory, I'm trying not to get lured into super cheap projects that end up disappointing me and just wasting supplies.  I'm trying to find a balance between affordability and looking-awesome-ness.  Plus I'm looking to supplies I have on hand, to see what I can make with them!


    Wasting Groceries.
    I don't think we're terrible about this but about once a week I toss the remnants of an expired yoghurt or a too-bad-for-banana-bread banana.  Something goes uneaten.  Every time I toss it, I see that food item as money and feel guilty.  But then I also feel terribly guilty because I know there are people in this world hungry enough to eat a black banana.

    My solution:
    I have a new trick I'm testing out: staying away from the grocery store until I'm out of a category entirely.  I used to buy grapes when I had perfectly good apples at home.  Before I'd find a recipe that required spinach when I had lovely carrots withering in the crisper.  Now I look in the fridge first and make something from what's in there.  Or I find a series of recipes using similar ingredients to make sure those loose ends get eaten!  Until the last, sad peach is eaten - no grocery store fruit runs!  When we're out, we go buy a variety produce and eat it until it's gone, so I'm not devoid of nutrients, no worries.  I've also turned to frozen veggies and fruits, so in a pinch I can add some peas to a dish or make a fruit smoothie (don't want scurvy just to save a buck or two), seeing as I'm employing a just-in-time grocery shopping method for perishables.  In other words, I'm meal planning more effectively and learning to go without, eating what we have (a crapload of apples) instead of what I want (blueberries on my cereal!).  Now I really want some blueberries.

       
    We have more money failings than these, but these are at the forefront of my thoughts right now.  How about you?  What do your struggle with?  Do you have any fabulous tips for our problems? 

    P.S. Speaking of money, how's about a little treat, for free?  Only a couple of days left in my ILIOS jewellery giveaway.  You could win something pretty for yourself, no laborious entry process required: just tell us your favorite piece of jewellery from the shop!
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    17 comments

    1. I so enjoy these money posts. I'm trying so hard to be more conscious of my spending, but it's hard! My worst habit is eating out, and holy banana boat is it expensive.

      I track everything I spend now, and it's definitely been an eye opener. I used to almost use up my entire overdraft by spending all willy nilly (that's pretty embarassing), and thankfully for the past few months that hasn't even close to happened.

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      1. I'm so glad you enjoy these posts! I have been doing so much research: how to save money on mortgages, groceries, home decor, etc. We also created a budget and I learned some new things about budget-making. But I thought it was time to share a little of our struggles, instead of always just sharing awesomeness because although we're working on it, always, we're so far from perfect!!

        It's great you're tracking your expenses - even though it's un-fun. That is fabulous that you've made major changes and don't get close to overdraft anymore. It's not embarrassing - you shouldn't be embarrassed, but it's a really good thing you've realized and handle things differently now. The thing is, you and I are young. Some people take a lifetime to figure out money or else spend a life time with bad habits. Starting with good habits now means we're ahead of the game! So instead of being embarrassed about the overdraft past, I say be proud of yourself for trying to figure out money now :)

        Going out to eat is SO expensive!! We don't go out to eat much, luckily, but when we do there's never a time I don't stare at the bill, dumbfounded!

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    2. I like the grocery idea!! I'm bad with letting fruits or veggies go bad, but in my defense, cooking and eating for one is tough! I need to start shopping my fridge/fruit bowl before heading to the grocery store. Thanks for the tips :-)

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      1. It is tough to eat and cook for one!! When Hubs is gone for work travel, I'm so uninspired to make anything. Some recipe sites out there let you type in the ingredients you have on hand, and they recommend recipes. Smoothies are also an awesome way to use up quickly expiring food.

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    3. I hear you on the needs vs. wants. I'm pretty terrible when it comes to home projects - I'm always tempted to buy things because they'd "make a cool project" even when we don't actually have a need/use for them in our house. I'm trying to be better about it, since it pains me to think about how much money I've wasted buying things we really don't need!

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      1. Before I stumbled into the mad world of blogs and online magazines, I got my monthly home decor magazine subscription. I poured over ideas for a couple of days, maybe tweaked a thing or two and just enjoyed my house. I LOVED our house when I started the blog. But looking back, it was plain and very "I bought everything at the brick" with only some art to save it. Now I am immersed in a world of constant projects and plans and makeovers Pinterest and round-ups of geometric pillows. Every day I see something cool, something I want to try. And more ideas pop into my head because I'm in a creative mode more. On the one hand, I love it. I have been so inspired and am truly in love with our townhouse now. It feels homey in a way I didn't even realize it did before. I am so prepared for our next place and am ready to make savvy design choices and renovate with my rookie days behind me. But on the other hand, I have this antsy feeling like I need to do more, more, more. It's such a struggle to pace myself, pick projects with longevity and give my head a shake once in awhile.

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    4. hey Tanya, very rarely do i come across a blog i spend sooo much time on but yours has completely drawn me in! 100% adore your style and all the mid-centch modern/scandinavian aesthetic. i've just been clicking your links like mad and learning about your sources and insp. um, awesome you're a fellow Canadian too b/c then i can count on where you shop, so can i. yah! discovering truly swedish design is a dream! thank you :)

      funnily enough the boyf and i just moved into a townhouse also, 3 floors and i'm perplexed what goes where since it's only been 2 weeks since we got here. getting glimpses into what you've done to your own swell pad makes me smile with hope though. learning how you've diy'd a lot of new home wares is rad too, we're trying to budget also but man it's tough when those needs/wants are fighting with each other. baha!

      i don't have any really good tips other than unplugging the computer to curb www shopping but i think i'd self combust if i couldn't cruise the net briefly for some point in the day. wishing you much lucks with your $ saving strategy and thanks again for sharing so many wonders!! ♥

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      1. Hi Lynn! So great to "meet" you - thanks for saying "hey".

        I'm so flattered you've enjoyed reading the blog. It's so much fun to find people with a similar aesthetic. Especially fellow townhousers! It looks like you have a blog too and I'm looking forward to checking it out.

        Moving somewhere new is tough because you want to make it yours right away and that can cost a lot all at once! It takes a lot of self control to space out those purchases and projects.

        Good tip staying off online shopping!! Especially for impulse shopping :)

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    5. Our biggest, hugest downfall is eating out. I admit it, which is half the battle, right? It's such a hard habit to break when we live in such a foodie city and there are so many amazing restaurants close by (when before we lived in a small town and our only options were fast food). Now that we've lived here six months, hopefully the "honeymoon period" is over and we can start eating in more.

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      1. Knowing where your money goes is a huge step! So many people have no idea where it goes. So kudos to you!! Eating out is a dilemma because it's an experience - time together. Money should be enjoyed, too, right?

        In Europe people eat their big meal for lunch and eat a lighter meal for dinner. Maybe pack a huge, home cooked lunch (something easy and microwavable, like slow cooker stew) and go out for a lighter dinner? Or have a pre-dinner snack at home (like veggies and hummus to fill you up). Apps and some drinks (or a shared appetizer and salad) can cost a lot less than a big meal with all the trimmings but you still can sample local fare and have the dining out experience - and not go home Hungary! They say not to go grocery shopping hungry, maybe not being totally famished going out to eat will similarly help your bottom line?

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      2. Thanks for all the tips. I love to cook, but I love having people cook for me more ;) Overall I supposed I love food. We have been doing a bit better in recent weeks--and we've learned to check restaurants websites to find out what the happy hour special is before we go ;)

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    6. I'm terrible with the needs vs. wants too! I recently overspent on a bunch of house things too and the hubs was pretty upset. It's so hard to be patient!

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      1. Oh no! Hopefully your Hubs will cool down soon. It's tough waiting sometimes because sometimes if you wait, the item is sold out, no longer on sale, etc. But tomorrow is another day. Whenever I overspend, I tell myself it's not the end of the world because I can be a total penny pincher for the rest of the month (or season, or year) and make it balance out. Or Hubs does some overtime or I pick up extra hours.

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    7. Any possibility of composting? I don't feel so guilty pulling a moldy avocado out of the fridge when it can be put to (eventual) use in the garden.

      Also, I'll support you in hanging on to your car. I wish we'd been able to keep my husband's high school car, a 1966 convertible (rust, missing floor panel, gas tank hole, and all)--because he still has dreams that we have it.

      You have a great combination of practicality and art in your posts--a refreshing stop in Blogland. Keep up the great work!

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      1. Thanks for your kind words about the blog :)

        We SHOULD be composting. The city picks it up and we have a composter in the backyard but the previous owners filled it with literal garbage so it is a mess. It's on our "to-do" list but always gets put on the back burner. But you're right - if I made something useful out of it, I'd feel better.

        Your Hubby's car sounds much cooler than mine! But it's comforting to hear keeping it isn't totally nutty. It's so sweet he dreams about it!

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    8. We don't like to throw away food, especially since we are trying to teach our kids to "use what you have". I live within 5 min of 6 grocery stores and used to go to 3 stores to buy my food. Then one day, someone in front of me price matched from another store. Since then, I have been doing that and I can save about $20 per shopping session.

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      1. Wow!! That's a huge savings, especially the savings in time now that you don't have to trek to so many grocery stores. That's a fabulous tip for saving money - thanks!!

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