Monday, 20 January 2014

How to get a grip of money

Hello Dear Reader,

We live in a world that tries to define us by what we own. Some people judge others by what they wear, what they own, the type of house they live in, what they eat, where they eat or where they go on holiday. I once fell into this trap. I believed that I went to work to have a good home, eat well, drive a decent car and wear good clothes. Then I stopped doing a job that didn't fulfill me when I realised that money doesn't make me any happier. When I earned less, I soon realised that having less money didn't make me un-happy. Instead, it made me thrifty, resourceful, less wasteful and more appreciative of what I had.

We learned pretty rapidly to be a careful stewards of our resources. We learned not to waste anything and be resourceful with everything we had. Anything that could be re-used was and anything that could be fixed and used for longer was. We learned that with good planning and hard work that we could put aside and save. We were an invincible team and as we pulled together we just got stronger. We knew where we were going and worked for anything side by side.

It isn't that easy for everyone. I know because you tell me. You are sometimes in uneven relationships where you are not both on board with the same plan. Some of you are on your own and are beset with feelings of being out of control. Some of you had the best plans, had the best team and worked really hard together and then illness, redundancy or even both came along and ripped the earth from under your feet. In our time together, Dearly Beloved has been made redundant and then faced redundancy again to be saved by a 10% pay cut. We've had our issues, our heart ache, our family break ups and our own personal demons to battle with. We might find it easy now but I can promise you we've been to the bottom and deeper in our own lives and know how hard the battle is to fight our way from the bottom.

Spenders often have no idea where their money went. They often have no idea why they booked a holiday when they couldn't afford it, or why they booked that restaurant or why they agreed on that night out. So often, just like eating, spending is an emotional response and not a reasonable or rational one. If you can start to work out where your money goes and when you spend it, then you are at the start of the most difficult process of working out why you spent it. Sometimes, when you are at your very lowest, then that's the time you booked that holiday, weekend away or meal out even when reason would tell you that you can't afford it. Reason would tell you that you are saving for a house deposit, new car or wedding. Reason would tell you to save up first and then spend the money and not to just book it hoping that you will save the money. I have no advice on helping anyone to deal with the emotional response and you'll need professional help on that one but I do know that when I let my head rule, then life became a lot more ordered and gained simplicity every day.

When I talk about getting to grips with money, I always clarify that what all of us need to do is get to grip with personal spending. The first point is to discover what we spend money on. Some people run a tight ship at home and then spend money loosely else where. The may spend too much money eating out, on takeaways, on their children or grandchildren (contentious but I need to throw that one out there!) or on their home. If you want to get a grip of your money then the first thing you need to be really honest about is what you spend money on.

When you've worked out what you spend your money on, the next stage is to work out when you spend it. Are you bored and lonely at home and spend money online on Ebay? Are you browsing the charity shops and car boot sales at the weekends because you are bored and think it's only a few quid here and there when actually it's a fiver or tenner a week and all you do is fill your wardrobe with clothes you don't wear and your house with items you don't need? Are you a coupon user and buy things just because you've accumulated enough discount that it's cheap when you really don't need it? Are you shopping in the supermarket without a list or menu plan and buy items you already have or didn't intend to buy? Even worse, are you calling into the supermarket after work as you can't remember what's in the fridge and have no idea what the kids are eating for dinner tonight?

I can't give you the answers but I can but share how I control my emotional spending (and eating). 

  • I plan all my spending for they year. I have a spreadsheet and a  wall calendar showing all the spending for the year. I know what's coming up and I remind myself of it. I'm aware the next bill is for home and car insurance. I'm already eyeing up the best deals.
  • I plan my spending for the month. All direct debits go out on the first of the month. I budget for everything even down to hair cuts, the gym and my trainer. I know where every penny goes.
  • I keep busy. I know when I get bored and when I feel low. My 'go to' personal support is to keep busy. I cook, I clean, I sew, I go for a walk, I read, I watch TV, I read the papers online, I tidy my fabric, I groom my dogs. If I can sense a lapse then I literally distract myself. This is also my 'go to' response if I feel the need to eat when I'm not actually hungry. 
  • I plan my leisure time. I make a list of everything I need to do at the weekend. I set the target of going for a walk and rain or shine, I go for a walk. I set the target of reading so many chapters or a set amount of quilt blocks. 
  • I plan my social time and get together with friends every three weeks. That way, I don't over commit and run out of time or steam.
  • I plan for my physical health. I get to bed early. I turn the TV off at nine pm. I drink a warm drink before I go to bed. I go to bed and get up at the same time every day. I exercise daily so my heart rate is raised and I'm sweating for an hour a day. I eat well. I eat to nourish and respect my body. I drink water, lots of water and haven't had caffeine for years. I limit alcohol to  a pay day bottle of wine. It's amazing how much better my head is when I look after my body.
  • I plan for a happy marriage. We make time for each other. Date nights? No need for details but every waking opportunity is a 'date night' in our lives. We talk, we lay the table every day and sit facing each other and eat as if we were in a restaurant. Try it, turn off the TV and eat at the dining table and see how much more you discuss.  We share  roles and responsibilities and we sit and budget together and we discuss any potential spending.It's amazing how well we can work together when we are both on the same page. Neither one of us needs the other and we're both self supporting, we're together and work together because we want to.
In essence, we have a tight grip on our money because we have a reasonable and 'do-able' grip of our own lives though we freely accept that we don't know what's around the corner and can't possibly plan for all eventualities. We accept we are adults and have full responsibility for our own lives and destiny. We are responsible for our own happiness, our own schedules, our own social lives, our health, and our finances. We accept it's hard but knuckle down and get on with it, whether we like it or not and I can assure you there are times when I don' t like it. We sometimes have to steady each other and remind ourselves how transient this all is and that the sunshine will be here along with spring.

Over to you Dear Reader, are you a member of the 'I'm an adult' club who takes responsibility for their own well being and happiness? Are you in control? You don't have to tell me but admit to yourself if you are not always in control and allow yourself to be governed by fleeting emotions. As ever, I love to hear from you.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxxxxxxx


  1. do you only see friends once every three weeks? I find social time with friends the most spendy time - but feel I wouldn't miss them if we didn't meet up as often. we find it hard to keep to a night or two at home each week.

  2. We leave home at 7 am and get home at 6pm, then I have lots of hobbies, I exercise a lot and com from scratch. I live with my best friend and everyone else is extra. I spent years and years at home, never going out as I looked after the children, I consider a once every three week coffee or dinner to be more than enough

    1. Foogs I'm surprised that you find time to socialise at all, between working full time, running the house so frugally (which from experience is very time consuming), spending hours every week writing these fantastic posts, researching and broadcasting your radio programmes, replying and giving advice to all the emails you get, walking the dogs, quilting, going to the gym and running! Blimey, I'm knackered just reading this lot! Besides, you are constantly in touch with lots of friends every day through your blog x

    2. Yes I agree Froogs, I also spent years and years at home as a single Mum bringing up my children, Now they are grown up I see friends maybe 4 to 6 weeks and I'm fine with that, they have their lives and I have mine. I may get the odd text from them during that time. Even though we don't see each other so frequently, more importantly we all know we are there for each other if needed.

  3. I am in control now , like you i have not always been , when spending money used to cheer me up temporary until the bills came in , now not spending gives me much more pleasure as every penny i don't spend goes towards being debt free in a few years.

  4. I have on,y just stopped being a child, someone who wants everything right now! Very Violet Elizabeth Bott.

  5. As a control freak i know where every penny goes, I have a must do today list, and a week list. I plan ahead and have an emergency fund, a years living cost account and my ISA. I also have a new account for my £2014 in 2014 challenge. I was brought up learning how to stretch a pound and not waste a penny. I only buy needs, wants go on my Amazon wish list. Between you and Mean Queen I have all the inspiration and encouragement that I could ever want to know that even as a minority I am on the right path for me.

  6. Hi Froogs! I can proudly say that I'm an adult! Sadly, I have swung a little to the extreme and rarely spend money on "me" now and I need to get back to the middle ground. Since I have little support besides myself that is not entirely surprising ~ Pru

  7. Frooogs Great post! Just cut my propane bill down to a 1/4 what it used to be. And my electric has been free for 2 months now do to solar upgrades. Always welcome for holiday :)

  8. Oh how I love these posts of yours...
    I am tracking every penny I spend since january the 1st. I already knew I have a thing for buying makeup (that always turns out to be to dark or too light) when I'm on my period!! I gave it all away, and am now on my 2nd month of not falling in that trap.
    I barely buy things for me anymore, I think about you and "a girl called jack"
    And say to myself: just don't. Turn around and walk away.
    I see myself wanting to spend on our apartement, and ad I found a little money left on my forgotten paypal account, so I feel like wanting to give myself a gift. But I probably could use it to buy cat food in bulk.
    I admire you keeping so active. I find myself getting depressed when something doesn't go according to plan and sit in front of the computer eating vanilla pudding feeling Sorry for my self (that's actually what I Made yesterday, the only sweet thing I had in my pantry was vanilla pudding powder..)

  9. I'm not an adult in so many ways and this post resonated so much for me x guess it's time to print it out and start a change x

  10. I needed your post today Queen. I really need to curb my spending, and am going to try to stick to a strict budge this year. Love these posts.

    Julie Q

  11. Brillant post. I look back and realise just how much of my spending is emotional. Rather more than I wish to admit too. I'm terrible for emotional spending when it comes to my children. Recently, our car died, right as we were about to put an offer on a house. WIth many children and living rurally, not having a vehicle really isn't an option. After a month without a car, I say that with conviction. :) We've now replaced the car with a cheap, but very practical vehicle. In order to make a month without a car work, I had to re - evaluate the commitments I let the children and I take on. I was shocked at not just how much more peaceful our lives were, but how much less money was being spent. I don't want to deny my children but really how crucial, or even beneficial, are rock climbing lessons or ballet. I'm starting to realise just how much of the 'normal' is not 'necessary'.

  12. Oh Froogs, I read 'lay the table' as 'lay on the table'. It was even better!

  13. Excellent post!! You always have a way of writing something that gives me a swift kick in the pants that I need to get frugalling again. January pay day only 3 days away for's been a long stretch. Car service tomorrow and for the first time I am not taking it to the main dealer. Found a local garage who will give it the full monty for a whopping £120 less, so there is a good saving right there :-)

    Also sorting out some health issues and cannot wait to start planting veggies again. Even dug out the sewing machine this week as I have a pair of curtains that need a turn up...small steps but goodun's xxx

  14. A year ago I would have said I was in control. It was hard and I often had to juggle things about but I did feel that even when the balls were in the air I knew exactly where I was, and what we needed to do. Last year was dire in many respects, personal and financial problems and the sudden death of my baby grandson threw everything into confusion. I lost control. I'm now taking baby steps towards pulling things together again. It might take a while but I've done it before so I know I can do it again.

  15. Hi, Your blog was recommended to me based on what I like from Bloglovin. I'm glad I saw this post first because it is so relevant for me. Based on my own personal history, I agree that having unhealthy personal relationships (partners, parents or friends) is a huge influence on your spending and your sense of control over your life. I didn't find/create a healthy partnership until I was in my 40s and what a difference! Finally I am living in accordance with my values.


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