Tuesday, May 05, 2009

going green

Home inspection went well, all is moving along. Still waiting on the clown attorneys to set an official closing date for our old house, but they assure us all is well and it will be "soon." Did our mortgage application last week, now we just sit on our bottoms and wait. In NY it takes anywhere from 30 days to (supposedly) 60 days to close on a house, but we are at about 75 and counting on our old house. It is up to the purchaser's attorney and the bank attorney to set everything up; we will basically be the last to know when it's a go. What a pain. Oy.

Anyway, on to the point of this post - going green. No, it is not a post about being all granola-crunchy-tree-huggy. Not at all. It is a post about CASH. Cold, hard, green cash.

I have decided to quit the credit card habit except in the case of pumping gas (so I won't have to drag 2 kids into a gas station every time I fill up). Our new home will be so much more expensive than our old one that we need to keep the budget tighter than ever. I've recently developed the strong opinion that going to a cash-only system for our purchases will help us with that. Hubs disagrees - he believes you can "track" your purchases better with a credit card...but I believe you can use cash and when it's gone, that's it. You know what you bought when you had to think about it carefully and give up the green.

Today, I proved the point to myself. I took out some actual green cash money at the ATM, and went shopping for the groceries I needed. It was amazing how fast that money disappeared, and I only bought the bare minimum. Normally I would have purchased more. Then, this afternoon, I swung by walmart because that's the only place in town that sells any kind of teething biscuit. I had plans to buy the biscuits and beat feet out of there, but you know walmart. That place (and Target) are like heroin to me...I browse around, just checking stuff out, looking for sales, etc.

Today I found, and PASSED UP:

Large spools of coats & clark thread on clearance for $.75 each
Plain, solid-color tee shirts in my son's size for $2.50 each
Gerber undershirts that I've kind of been wanting for AJ, but did not need for $7.00
Fabric, ooooooh fabric
Yarn and yarny accessories
Sewing patterns
Adorable buttons for knitting/sewing projects

And there was probably more. I mean, I had two spools of that thread in my hands, in neutral colors, perfect for sewing just about anything...and then my brain slapped me upside the head. Did I really NEED those threads? In a year or two or three when I finally broke them out and used them, would I even care that I got them for $.75? Do I want to store them for that long before I need them? Gosh, no wonder I have so much crap! I am a credit card junkie crack whore*! Seriously! In the not-too-distant past I would have totally loaded up on those threads for that price. I would certainly have grabbed a few tee shirts for the kids. But when my brain asked me if I wanted to hand over actual green cash money for that stuff? WOW. Wowwy, wow, wow.

I can't believe I've gotten to this point. Remember when you babysat in high school and you were so psyched to have like, $50 in cash to spend at the Gap? And you were careful(ish) about what you bought, because that was all the money you had and when it was gone, it was gone.

I have forgotten how to live like that.

Today at walmart I walked out with a box of biter biscuits, 4 jars of baby food, and one pair of white socks that my son actually desperately needs. My total was $4.47 because I was paying CASH. If I had been using plastic? That total would have easily been $15-$20. And you know what? It truly hurt to hand over that $5 bill! Because hey, guess what, now it's gone!

This is going to be a painful experiment, I can tell. But I think it's going to be successful in the long run. If I can get my husband to play along, and so far he is but it's only been a few days, well then we might actually get somewhere with paying down debts and sticking to our budget.

*We pay our bill off every month, though. Never carry a balance, never pay fees/interest charges. But shoot, how does it get up over $1000 each month? And what the heck did I buy on those 4 trips to Target? I DON'T EVEN KNOW.


Karen said...

Have you been reading Dave Ramsey?

Shari said...

I always find that I hate, hate, hate to break a $20.00 bill. I will pass up buying stuff to avoid it. Maybe I should carry cash more often too!

kate said...

Yes Karen, I have read several Dave Ramsey books cover to cover, and while I don't agree with everything he advocates, the dude makes some good points. I am tired of living at the edge. I want to have *extra* each month, not "run out of money before I run out of month" as Dave says.

HangerMom said...

It's been just over a year since I finished my Ramsey class and started spending cash for groceries and a couple other budget categories. In the past couple months we've been trying to move more and more in that direction (but I'm with you on gas - no way am I going in to pay cash, so now I keep our budgeted amount in the checking account so we can use our check card at the pump). We still have a few things that go on the credit card to be paid off later in the month, but mostly just online purchases. And now it's not a $1500/month credit card payment but more like $200-300. It feels SO GOOD!

So good luck with your experiment. Paying cash has made a HUGE difference to our budget. We've saved thousands of dollars in the past year - no joke. And I just yesterday paid a few thousand toward our minivan. It's not paid off yet, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. What a difference!