Cash & Carry by Liz

So I think I've mentioned or maybe you've just noticed that I can be a bit of a control freak sometimes. But there's always been one aspect of my life that I've had no control of... My spending habits.

Yes, I can calculate the calories in those chips and guacamole in an instant but am unable to balance my checkbook properly.  I have the willpower to completely cut out food groups(cheese? Who needs it?) but cannot resist the Nordstrom half-yearly sale.  Or that adorable Calvin Klein dress.  Or ANYTHING at The Container Store. (Damn that place! Who really needs a onion saver??!!!?)

And I don't need to pay a therapist $300/hour to tell me that I buy things to make myself feel better.  Having a bad week? Shaking my ass in that new little black dress will make the world feel right again. Feeling fat? Buying all those pink acrylic glasses at Target made me feel light and dainty. Bored? Nothing like online shopping to fill the hours.  For me, there was no better high than a shopping one.

Until that damn American Express bill showed up.  Was I actually supposed to pay that freakin' thing off each month?  Oops.

But that ginormous monthly statement never seemed to stop my love affair with my gold card.  No matter how much we made, we would somehow manage to outspend it by ALOT.  And all along I told myself that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to cut one thing out of our budget. That there's no way I could live without sushi, Starbucks or a Brazillian Blowout.

I was wrong.

I don't remember exactly when it hit me.  Maybe it was what seemed the millionth time the hubs and I were having the same conversation about money.  We always look and each other and stupidly ask Where does it all go? without ever having the balls to actually look and SEE WHERE THE MONEY ACTUALLY GOES. Because it's much easier just to buy what you want and pretend that living within your means is just impossible than to try to cut back.  And we had so many things to blame!

The cost of living is so high in Southern California!

I could buy a BMW for what we pay for daycare each year!

I have to get my hair done every month-I'm going gray! (Sad to say this one actually very true...)

But most of it was bullshit.  Yes, it is ridiculously expensive to live here and I dream for the day we don't have to pay for daycare anymore.  But the real problem was not with those things.  It was with us.

My issue was living like I was a millionaire.  And my hubs?  His problem was saying NO to my spending.  He had been my YES man for a long time.  And as much as I loved him for always telling me I deserved that new pair of shoes, I finally had to admit that he was just enabling a terrible habit. But was was the solution?

Cash  & Carry, yo.

I had always been a cashless wonder.  I was the girl who always took your cash for the meal and paid with my credit card.  Parked in a parking structure?  I'm the one begging for five bucks so I can get out.  And I'd always have to avoid eye contact with the homeless people holding signs by the freeway.

Now I would be given a cash allotment each week.  And and I had to learn to *gasp* THINK about what I was spending.  Groceries, Starbucks, happy hour.  It all had to come out of my piggy bank.  But if I was able to hold my shit together and not overspend, we would only spend what we made. (Novel concept, right?)  And then, if we could do that for awhile, then we could do this other thing we never do.  Save money.

It was tough at first.  My Starbucks baristas just couldn't get over the fact that I was paying them in cash and I had to save for three weeks before I could get a mani-pedi.(And forget about any extra massage!)  But as sad as I was not to buy that adorable dress at Loehmann's, the feeling of gaining control over my finances was exhilarating.  Spending was one area of my life that always felt out-of-control-like a addiction I couldn't shake.  And each week that I was able to stay in my new budget felt like a small victory.  I finally came to realize that the world was not going to END if I didn't buy Hanky Pankys in every color.  (Although having them in every color would be really awesome.)

And even though we got a bit off track with the holidays(The Coach boots were on sale, I SWEAR!), I'm actually looking forward to getting back to our cash & carry routine.  Because when you don't buy every damn thing that you want, it makes the things you do buy seem that much sweeter.

How about you?  How do you save money?

xo, Liz