The Serious One and I were invited to attend a dinner and wine pairing blogger event at The Salt Tasting Room to talk finances with the good people from Interac. I immediately said YES as we’ve been thinking a lot about money lately. And when I say thinking, I mean discussing, sometimes in a heated way. Sure we looked happy in the photo but umm… wine!
We need to be on the same page and sadly we are not. I’m the spender. He’s the non-spender, sometimes wanna-be-spender but guilty-spender. He wants me to be happy so he’ll say yes to something I want to do or buy and deal with it, and me later. And I often don’t know about it until we have ‘the talk’.
This causes a bit of stress to say the least. So in order to create some peace and harmony in our home I created a budget sheet in Google Docs to share with him. I thought that once we had the numbers in front of us, and all the calculations done ahead of time it would make it easier to see where our money is going. And it does. But we still look at the numbers differently.
I asked the Hubs this question and it started us down that ugly path of misunderstanding and well, it wasn’t pretty.
How much money do we have left at the end of last month?
He responded with $600 which I thought was amazing! I mean, we’ve only been using the budget sheet for a full month and already we have a surplus? We got to the end of the month before the end of the money? Woot! Party!
So then I go on to start planning how we were going to spend our windfall. Shoes for OLM, shelving to get more organized at home, the wheels didn’t stop spinning.
And then he says,
Well it’s actually only $400 cause I had to buy those shoes…
Ok, I can live with that. So I adjusted my plan.
But he wasn’t biting. In fact he seemed morose even.
We have a windfall, dude? Why are you stressed?
It wasn’t until later that I realized we were looking at the surplus very differently. It also reminded me that we are not yet in the black.
My idea of money left over at the end of the month is decidedly different from his. He was thinking about it terms of how much he needed to put aside to pay the bills that come up at the beginning of the month. Hey now. That’s not the definition of Money. Left. Over. Is it?
Ok so we don’t have money left over at the end of the month. But we’ll get there. We just have to spend less and be more clear with each other, right?
As I mentioned earlier I created a budget in Google Docs starting September of this year. Fixed costs like housing and insurance are listed separately from expenses that change and of course savings has its own section too.
Having all in front of me in black and white (it’s colour-coded too because well why not?) makes it easy to see where our money is going and to prioritize spending. And because it’s viewable on any device we can keep track of our spending wherever we are.
I thought it might be nice for you to see what I mean so I’ve created a shareable Sample Budget that you can download.
One of the things that really hit home at the event we attended was not spending more that we make. I know, I know it’s common sense right? But spending on credit is such a normal thing these days. We’ve become disconnected from our money and that gets us, me, in trouble. Did you know that not saving money is the top financial stressor for Canadians?
Rather than go on about it because I’d just like to move forward, I’m going to share some tips that we gleaned from our time at the event with lovely ladies at Interac. The timing couldn’t be more perfect because… Christmas!
Money Saving Tips for the Holidays
Guilt Free Shopping
Nowadays when I go to the shops I take photos of the things I’d like to buy. It helps gain perspective and stave off the urge to impulse buy. Taking a day to decide whether it fits into the budget allows me to consider whether it’s a WANT or a NEED.
Being more conscious of spending my money online is important. Look for promo codes and the best deals before committing to buying anything online.
If it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is. Using loyalty cards are fine if you still get the best deals. And if you use your own money rather than credit it’s even better.
Make the money go further
Planning meals ahead of time really helps focus my grocery shopping. Last night I prepared a meat sauce and a batch of soup and today I’m making chili to put in the freezer after we have dinner tonight. It saves time too without resorting to convenience foods.
I don’t go into the shop with a list because I try to stick to fresher, healthier options and if I buy less expensive cuts of meat and/or more vegetarian options I do OK.
Having said that I’ll start making a list as I’m definitely not immune to impulse buys. And going to the shops hungry is a recipe for DISASTER!
Don’t use mental math
Have you ever thought you had a certain amount of money in your account but when you check the balance you realize that you forgot about a few purchases? Or you keep spending that same money over and over without realizing it? Yeah, I hear ya. Hence the budget sheet.
Financial Health Check
And finally, I think I’ve convinced The Hubs to spend an hour each month talking, rather than arguing about the household finances. It’s not that he doesn’t want to know where the money goes, it’s that the money talk can be disheartening for him. And I get it. But we’ve got to be on the same page if we are going to move forward with our lives. If we keep our spending (and saving) on track it will strengthen our bond and that is key to a happy, healthy life together.
The most important take away I got from this event with Interac was to use my own money when I spend. It just makes sense. And using Interac ensures that happens. It’s the most secure way to access funds in my account without having to carry cash. Did you know that when you make a purchase using INTERAC businesses are only charged six cents per transaction regardless of how much you spend?
I didn’t know that. I assumed it was as expensive as using a credit card which charges merchants anywhere between 1.5% to upwards of 5% depending on the financial institution. So if you want to support local business using cash or debit is the best way to keep their costs down. Save the credit card purchases for the big box stores who can afford it.
November is Financial Literacy Month
November is Financial Literacy Month (#FLM2015) in Canada. It’s an opportunity for us to focus on our financial well-being and develop strategies to save for the future, make wise choices about debt and strengthen money management skills. If you’d like to join the conversation about financial literacy and #beintheblack this holiday season please share the message below.
[Tweet “Nice! These are great tips to #beintheblack this holiday season! #INTERAC #spending #savingmoney”]
Thanks for reading. Which of these tips are you going to start using today? Let me know in the comments. And when you download the budget spreadsheet let me know how it goes!