Follow me now into the dark labyrinth of your shopping day.
Day One: 9 am. You merrily go to the bank machine, take out $40 in cash, and feel, what, loaded? Healthy? Happy?
10 am. You hit the grocery store for a bottle of mustard. You know,the gourmet kind with the seeds. You leave the store with three apples, a quart of milk, a chocolate bar, a magazine, and a dazed smile on your face.
11 am. Stop at the video store. Rent two videos for tonight. Oops, how did you get that fine?
12 pm. Lunch at the fast food place, just a snack really. You’re on a diet. Again.
1 pm – 3 pm. Got to watch your shows,don’t you?
3 pm. Forgot the darn mustard! Back to the gourmet grocery store. Leave with a bottle of mustard, a bag of onions and a bar-b-q’d chicken for dinner. Too tired to cook tonight.
4 pm. Hit the emails. Where do people find this stuff? Some of it is so funny. Love the music things.
6 pm. Call from friend to go out to dinner. Put bar-b-q’d chicken in the fridge. Put on my coat. Get in the car.
6:05 pm. Count money left in wallet. Hey! Where’s that $40 you took out this morning?
6:15pm. Drive to bank. Take out $40 you need for the rent, but you already accepted the invitation. You promise yourself that you will not do this again!
Day Two: 10 am. You have to wait to pay the rent until after payday, again. Need to buy lunch. Dinner was more expensive than you thought it would be. Take $40 out of the bank.
I’m depressed just reading this. But, I can rewind your day for a happier ending.
9 am: You check the Spending Plan you developed at the start of the month. How much is left in the Grocery category? You write a list of the things you need. Don’t forget lunch foods. Go to discount grocery store. Use debit card. Subtract what you spent from the balance in the Groceries category. You feel not too much. Not that exciting.
11 am. Get one video from library. Who’s got time to watch two? You have no fine because you get stuff back on time. You are not vague about due dates.
12 pm. Go home for yummy lunch from healthy food you just bought. Mmmm.
1-4 pm. Make contact with a few friends or family members. Check Spending Plan for Meals Out category. You will have a nice lump in there after this Friday’s pay. Make date to spend time with them, maybe go out to dinner. You feel excited and have something to look forward to.
6 pm. Call from friend. Movie invite. Check your Spending Plan for Entertainment category. Yes! There is enough, even for popcorn. You hum while making dinner.
6:10pm The new mustard is weird.
7 pm. Meet friend at movie theatre. What a crowd! Pay for ticket and popcorn with debit. Subtract from the balance in the Entertainment category. Only $1.17 left. But, you get paid on Friday. You’ll put a pre-determined amount into the Entertainment category, and be ready to spend again!
Day Two: Pay the rent from the Rent category. It’s all in there, no problem.
The difference is the Spending Plan. Based on what you usually spend each pay period on stuff, divide up your paycheck in a little book into set categories and put the relevant amounts into each. Don’t spend more than is in each category balance. Subtract what you do spend. Roll over the balance into the next pay period.
It’s so simple even a child can do it. No, but, you can do it.