Friday, January 9, 2009

Could Your Family Do It?

Have you been watching Oprah's series on Living your Best Life this week? I have to say, I'm not a fan of January 1st being the magical date to start doing something (or quitting something) you should be doing all along. Exercising, eating right, saving money. These are all things we fail at periodically and setting yourself up for an all or nothing plan for 2009 just gives those Oprah producers the green light to air these type of resolution shows all over again at the beginning of 2010.

Instead, I think I'm like most people. Moreover I strive to live my best life everyday. But sometimes life gets in the way. We go on vacation or we have a new baby or Brian changes jobs. All these things can throw a hitch in our giddy-up. Sometimes it's nothing at all. Sometimes we just get lazy. But that's no reason to quit until next year.

All that being said I must admit that I have watched every minute of Oprah's series. For the most part it's been just a bunch of good reminders. Yesterday financial expert Suze Orman was on. The majority of the show was all about getting out of credit card debt. This part was irrelevant to me because I'm happy to say we Nashes have no credit card debt.

Apparently we're in the minority though because Suze reported that Oprah's audience of 300 people had a total accumulated credit card debt of $2.5 million. Gasp! And we wonder why we're in the economic mess we're in.

As for me personally, I guess our debt-free state (speaking only on credit cards) is just an extension of my slight OCD tendencies. There's no way I could sleep at night with that lingering over my head. Much in the same way I couldn't sleep at night if I knew that the kitchen counters weren't wiped clean of all the dinner crumbs. I know. I'm weird like that.

But toward the end the show Suze did offer me some useful food for thought. Suze advised that after all credit card debt has been paid off we should start focusing on a savings stash for at least eight months worth of living expenses. Eight months being the magical number because that's the average time, in this economy, it is taking to find a new job should one find themselves suddenly without a job.

Once again, we're doing pretty well in this area but where is gets a little tricky is that we've combined our emergency stash with our "saving for a new house" stash and our "need to buy a new car" stash. So like most of you out there, we could use some creative ideas to find extra money to save. Here were Suze's three ideas to give a try:

1. For one day don't spend any money.

I didn't think this one sounded too tough. There are a lot of Saturdays or Sundays that we spend just sitting around. Sure we treat ourselves to a Caribou or the doughnut shop but those could easily get cut out.

2. For one week don't use a credit card.

At first I thought this one would also be super easy until I started to wonder if using a check card counted. Jenny and Brian heart their check cards. It's much easier than carrying around a wad of cash and helps me monitor where our money is going when I balance the checkbook twice a month. But the check card can be our downfall too. It's much easier to swipe a card to buy a $4 latte than it is to watch those dollar bills leave your wallet.

So if Suze is recommending going one week with cash only, hat's off because this would be quite tricky. But given a little effort, I'm confident we could do it.

3. For one month don't eat out at any restaurants.

Now this is the real kick-in-the-behind, isn't it? Again, I'm confident we could do it but I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say it wouldn't come without it's sacrifices. No Caribou, no Chipotle, no pizzas, no subs. For a whole month!

I really enjoy cooking and while saving money might be a nice side effect of this love, that's not why I do or don't cook. Typically the nights I don't cook are because of lack of time or energy. So making this pledge would require a whole lot more of both on a regular basis.

Brian and I agreed that because we don't feel we abuse our eating-out privilege we didn't think this was completely necessary. (Or is that the excuse everyone is using?) That said we thought it provided a good idea for a Lenten sacrifice. We shall see though seeing as how Lent this year coincides with the end of my pregnancy.

What do you think? Could your family manage all three?

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of giving up going out to eat for Lent. I know I could do it, but I think it would be harder for my husband. But...he is going through RCIA this year and it might be a big "Welcome to Catholicism!" if I can convince him to go through with it!

    Very insightful blog.


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