Friday, March 25, 2011

Dollars and Cents

I find that the longer we live in Whitehorse*, the more I am plagued not with boredom but frugality. I knew I'd become more budget-conscious moving here, and in a way I was looking forward to it.
I remember when I first moved out to my first crappy apartment, and learning to budget out of necessity. I was amazed how far a dollar could go, and chastised myself for spending so recklessly beforehand.
Living in Ross River was a great way to save for a second car and down payment, but it also left over a bunch extra for frivolous spending. And if you give a bored, post-partum mama a credit card, she will spend it on clothes. Online. Lots. (But I have a new body and none of my clothes fit and J. Crew ones are so pretttyyyy!")
Now, we're back to living on a tight budget. And I mean tight. Like, this morning Rich called me from work to ask if we had enough for him to buy a $1.60 coffee. (We did, but we're already over on our coffee shop/fast food budget, I whined to him).
I've spent many an afternoon (while Abby naps) trolling through MSN Money, Gail Vaz-Oxdale and Frugal Mama websites, looking for more ways to pare down, stretch our dollar, and set priorities. I think we do a pretty good job.
Now we are talking about planning a trip to Hawaii next year, one big last trip before we pare down our travel plans and move out of the territory that gives us isolated post travel allowances. It will be expensive, but having something so extravagant and totally AWESOME to look forward to is a great pick-me-up for the days when I want to cry into my homemade non-foamy latte because we have no money for extra spending. I even made a Hawaiian beach scene my desktop background for motivation. I know that's cheesy.
So in the meantime, we have strict spending limits: we will not be buying Abby many toys or clothes, we will not be spending much on going out to movies or renting them, we will borrow from the library rather than buy, we will purchase food with PC yellow labels instead of brand names, I will colour my hair at home, we will only order out or go to a restaurant once every two months as a family, and we will go out into the woods instead of paying to go to the rec centre, or at least try to limit our paid trips there.
I flipped a lid when my laptop crashed and burned, because it meant I lost my budgeting software. But today I found a free online site that takes all our credit and debit card purchases, categorizes them, and sets up a monthly budgets that clearly shows if we've exceeded it, or have come under. (www.mint.com--highly recommend), so now I feel more comfortable having our finances all in one place, under one roof and managed in an easy way. After all, if every spare penny is going to get us to Hawaii, I need to keep track of them!
In the meantime: any recommendations of how to enjoy Hawaii as a family on the cheap?

* the city of expensive mortgages, one income, and more excuses to buy stuff**.
** expensive chai lattes

3 comments:

  1. Your post makes me very, very thankful we have chosen to make one of the communities our home. I would be too tempted to spend a lot if we lived in the city.

    So only another year in the north? The Yukon hasn't lured you in for good?

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  2. I have a little tear...so proud ha ha

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  3. Kara: I don't know, I've met the people the Yukon has cast its spell over and I can say I'm not one of them. I love it here, it's beautiful and I love exploring. But I still feel like I could leave and not come back. It's strange, but I gotta face the facts of being a transient family!

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