Pulling in the Reigns with Spending
As part of our retirement journey, we have been meeting regularly with our financial advisors. We actually have two: One that my husband and I have been working with for a number of years and one that I have as part of my retirement benefit at work (TIAA-CREF). Both are capable and trustworthy individuals.
Leading up to these regular meetings, we had spent 2018 keeping track of our expenses. I say “we” but it was really my husband. I hate anything to do with a budget. That’s one B word I try to avoid! The process was eye-opening. Seeing some areas of our spending that were excessive slapped me back to reality. Food and clothing were two areas I vowed to take control. Here’s where I’m at so far:
The budget was 99% of my spending on clothes, which I have too much of! I admit it. I have been “building” my wardrobe for many years but that’s no excuse. I just keep adding and not purging. I’m not sure exactly why this is but I think it’s safe to say that’s an entire blog post on its own!
I have been hooked on watching Tidying Up, with Marie Kondo, on Netflix. This woman is onto something! I love this show! Anyway, I have started to go through my clothes and keep those things that I really like, fit well, suit my current season of life and more. It’s still a work in progress but this year I’m shopping my closet. I have been pinning fresh ideas on how to wear some of my pieces on Pinterest.
I hate to tell you how much food we have thrown away in our house. It makes me sad when I think about it. Through my health and wellness journey, I have learned one helpful tool: Meal planning. I have to be honest: The idea of doing a meal plan did not excite me. It’s not a new idea. The Internet is loaded with free templates but it was another task to add to the weekend to-do list, and I was a slow adopter.
I finally gave in. I use an Excel sheet and map out each day of the week and each meal. When I decide on a meal, I look at the pantry to see what I need and start a grocery-shopping list.
Here’s the thing: It works! The outcome has reduced the mindless wandering through the grocery store, trying to figure out our meals on the fly and buying things I don’t need because I can’t remember if I have the ingredient at home. This is still a habit in progress but the outcome has motivated me to keep at it.
One area of improvement is that I shop and then my husband goes out and shops on his day off to get “his stuff.” This usually ends of being a bunch of junk food that isn’t good for him. We are trying to shop more together but those containers of cookies continue to show up on the counter. Baby steps.
Bottom line: Taking a look at spending isn’t a bad idea – even if you hate it. I think that while I’m working and have a steady paycheck, I believed I didn’t need to worry that much about spending. That paycheck will stop in November 2020! Don’t wait until A Fresh Season is upon you and you need to shift gears quickly. I’m starting to adopt some new ideas and habits now to help alleviate anxiety when the retirement date arrives.