Monday, June 1, 2009

If you knew the "money" theme song you'd be singing it too

My husband has a thing for Gail Vaz-Oxlade.

She may have even replaced - gasp! - Judge Judy in his adulation, although he has yet to set the DVR for episodes of Til Debt Do Us Part.

If you have never watched the show, Gail works with a couple who is in debt and/or living beyond their means. She first evaluates their finances and lets them know how much they are spending and how far in debt they will be if they continue. Gail then helps them create a budget and makes them live on cash for one month, with a few challenges and life lessons along the way. If they get their financial act together, at the end of the month they receive a cheque for $5000 to help them with debt repayment.

Every time my husband watches this show, he ends up at the computer examining spreadsheets and bank statements. He rants for a while about doing "a real budget," but by the time I have a glass of wine and watch an episode of The Tudors, he's usually over it.

Until this weekend. On Saturday night he found Gail Vaz-Oxlade's blog, complete with her budget worksheets and guide to actually building a *real* budget.

We decided to plug in our real numbers from April to evaluate our own situation.

I do want to say that we are very fortunate that my husband's work is something that shelters us from the ups and downs of the economy. It is because of this work that I have been able to stay at home with Will and make parenting my full time work right now.

That said, we had a sneaking suspicion that our Starbucks habit alone might be something that should be reined in.

Um, yeah.

Food consumption is clearly the major issue for us. We may not go to the movies or, well, anywhere right now, but by god we are masters at picking up Swiss Chalet or Thai food. They aren't even expensive purchases. Just multiple trips to the grocery store or Costco, and excursions to our favourite restaurants or coffee shops.

In the spirit of taking control of this spending (and maybe starting to think about retirement) we have adopted Gail's "cash jar" approach for the month of June.

As of 2:40 pm on June first, I have yet to pull money from any of the jars.

(And I'm totally not counting last night's Superstore run for cereal and a couple of Joe t-shirts cheating. It was still May, after all.)

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