Jan 20, 2010

Are You a "Natural Spender" -- like ME? (Carole)

Many experts say that nearly every married couple has one Natural Spender and one Natural Saver.  In our house, I am the Spender.  (I don’t think I realized that writing a blog would turn into True Confessions. . .)

Now, let me qualify this.   I am not an out of control, crazy spender-of-every-cent-that-walks-through-the-door wife. Nor am I a wife who has a large credit card balance with every major store in town.  Those women probably need some therapy.  But I do enjoy spending $20 or $50 or even $100 on a pretty regular basis – just for fun.  Personally, I see myself as generous, as much of what I buy is for one of my children.  Somehow that makes spending seem almost noble.  However, being noble or generous or whatever, has busted my carefully crafted budget more times than I can count.  How many times have I had to ask my husband to add more money to my account so I can survive until the next pay day?  Ugh.  (Of course, he’s the Natural Saver who can keep the same $10 bill in his wallet for a decade.)   

But our family has BIG financial goals!  You probably do too.  Our family has millions of dollars yet to accumulate before retirement.  If I spend it all -- $20 or $100 at a time (remember, I'm the Natural Spender) -- then we will never get where we want to go.  So, I have to STOP myself before I spend AGAIN!!

So, after 25 years and test-driving many other methods, I have finally discovered the Wonder Plan (at least for me).  I’ll share it with you – because just maybe it will be the right thing for you too.

First, I have my own checking account.  Every Monday morning I move my weekly, budgeted money from the family account into my personal checking account.  I have found that our budget is safest if I do not have easy access to all the family money sitting in our joint bank account. This one strategy has saved me from spending hundreds (or possibly thousands) of dollars over the past few years.

Second, I work only in cash.  As soon as my weekly money is transferred into my account, I run to my bank's ATM and take out all the cash I will need (according to my budget) for groceries and household expenses and personal extras.  I keep these three piles of money separate in my wallet.   This is all the money I have to spend for the week.  When the money is gone, I have to quit spending.   Now I watch those $20s like a hawk!

Third, I keep my debit card hidden in my car.  No, I am not hiding it from myself.  I am hiding it from any would-be thieves – I do live in Las Vegas, you know.  After taking out my grocery and extra money, I leave enough money in my checking account to fill up my car with gasoline at least once during the week.  I personally refuse to use cash to buy gas.  When my children were little, I didn’t want to leave them alone in the car while I went inside to pay and now I just don’t want to be bothered with walking through all the slot machines and cigarette smoke.  So, the debit card hidden in the car keeps it handy for the gasoline pump, but also keeps it safely out of my wallet when I’m in a store loaded with temptations. 

These three little strategies are the Wonder Plan that keeps my Natural Spender tendencies in check.  It’s now become an exciting game to see how many $20s I can still have when Monday rolls around again.  I gleefully sneak those un-spent bills into a big envelope that I keep hidden at the house (do you see a disturbing pattern here??) and am saving up for a Bernina Serger.   I’ll post a lovely photo when I buy it with cash in a few months!  

9 comments:

TheMoncurs said...

I am totally the spender in our relationship. I think I need my own checking account for my monthly allowance. I think there have been like 2 months in our 4 year marriage when I haven't gone over. Great advice!

megan said...

Great advice, Carole! Just need a buget first... No, I don't have one. Not even an idea of one. I made one I think five or six years ago, though :) Clearly it didn't work. I like the cash idea. Can't really go over if you don't have the cash.

megan said...

budget, not buget.

Melanie said...

I too use the separate account system. I have about five "sub-accounts" through ING that I use to separate out money that I'm saving for different purchased or reasons. If it's all just sitting in one pile in my checking account, I see that number and can easily justify a shopping spree, but removing the money and putting it somewhere else helps me know how much I have to spend.

Yankee Girl said...

I've heard about this idea of working in cash--and everyone that I've heard it from loves it and swears by it.

Packrat said...

Great plan.

Spending in our house depends on what and when. I'd say J and I are equal spenders.

Miriam said...

Learn something new about you all the time :)

Jess said...

The problem for me with working in cash is that a) I'd have to make a weekly trip to the bank. I hate the bank. And b) I LOVE the dividend check we get everyone 2-3 months by putting everything on our credit card. Hmmmmm...

Olivia said...

I am the spender too. But not an extreme one either. Just like you described yourself. I have a few expensive wants like a new sewing machine also... and more lenses for my camera but I always have a hard time justifying buying things for me. Kids are easy to spend for. This is a good tip. Thanks for sharing.