Wendy and I have found ourselves a bit overwhelmed by daily life- it happens to even the most dedicated listmaker/organizer. The downside? Our blog has been roughly shoved to the back burner. The upside? All the extra hours I’ve been working have resulted in a few extra paychecks.
…and I really really want to spend them. Before we had kids (and a mortgage, and cars to maintain), overtime checks meant lavish dinners out, gloriously impractical shoes, maybe even a weekend trip. But priorities change, and ‘cute shoes’ are pretty far down on my wish list. Does it surprise you that I have a list called ‘Things to Spend Money On in Case of Unexpected Funds’? Of course I do. Here are a few categories on that list:
- Fun! (a little) Not a lot, but I try to spend about five percent of an extra check on something fun with the family – going out to the movies, a toy that Scooter has her eye on, or dinner at our favorite restaurant. If you bust your butt for the extra money, and spend extra time away from home, you’re entitled to some (frugal) fun, otherwise what’s the point?
- Food! Yes, I know, but extra food. Wendy and I have spoken at length about the importance of a well-stocked pantry and freezer to keep grocery costs down, and an extra check is the perfect time to build a good pantry or start a couponing stockpile. It’s a great way to make that extra check pay dividends for months to come – there’s a lot of freedom in being able to wait for sales and use coupons wisely.
- Fiber! Look ahead to next season – who needs a new coat? New sweaters, boots, scarves, gloves? Are your winter blankets in good shape? Scoop up new ones now at off-season prices. Remember where you put them after you buy them. Just like a pantry stockpile, buying clothing ahead of the weather is a smart way to save.
- Fluff! If you’ve been looking to make the switch to cloth diapers, now is the time – they are substantially cheaper in the long run, but the initial startup can be pricey.
- Fixing Stuff! Replacement parts and routine maintenance are almost always cheaper than buying new. Video cards, hard drives, humidifier and air conditioner filters, sofa slipcovers – take a look around your house. Then take a look at your car; does it need new wiper blades? An oil change? Tires? This is the kind of stuff I have to write down when I see it – make a file on your desktop so you’ll be ready when that check falls into your lap.
- Forward-Thinking! (Okay, I was trying to make them all start with ‘F’.) If you’re not already in the habit of paying your bills as soon as you get them, start now. Waiting until the due date makes it easier to overspend your monthly budget and makes you more likely to incur late fees due to postal issues or plain forgetfulness. Try to pay bills the day you get them, and give yourself one less thing to keep track of. If there’s a major home renovation or expense that you know is on the way (new appliances, landscaping issues, siding/housepainting), open a separate savings account and put extra checks there.