Tag Archives: Experiments

Discarding How I Track My Spending

A few months ago, I did a post on how I was changing the way I was tracking my spending. I had high hopes, but I’m writing today to admit that this way of tracking my spending did not help to curb my spending at all. It didn’t work for many reasons and so I scrapped it completely.

First, it was a lot of work. Trying to remember to write down every single dollar I spent added a lot of tiny tasks to the back of my mind which I just don’t have time for right now. Tying to account for every dollar my husband spent was even harder. And if I ran out of cash by the end of the week and I found I needed to buy something, like gasoline or bread, I would end up putting it on a credit card anyway.

Second, it just didn’t help me to spend less. Sure it was annoying, which may have encouraged me to spend less just so I wouldn’t have to track it, but I still needed to buy things. The “no spend days” didn’t work either because I would just spend more on other days to get everything I needed (or “needed”). I would just make bigger purchases at once.

Third, it was just kind of depressing to always see money going out, out, out. All I saw was negative numbers, in red, my money going away, away, away until it was gone. Not very good for morale, generally.

Also, the tracking didn’t help me stick to the “cash diet” at all. If I want to give myself $100 a week to spend, then that’s what I need to do. I need to be disciplined enough to ration it for only what the family needs. I need to leave my credit cards at home or freeze them or maybe even cut them up! Tracking every dollar gone will not help with that, especially as credit cards just allowed me to dip into the negative before the week was over.

I recently read a tidbit that claimed that most people who set up and advocate for budgets, don’t even keep budgets themselves. That thought jostled my whole brain. I had been reading so much on the internet for the past couple of years about the wonders of budgeting to help save money, that I thought once I got the hang of it, budgeting would be a sure-fire way to get ahead of our debt and save tons of money. But after 2 years of trying, I have to admit that budgeting is not for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally a proponent of spend-less-than-you-make, but the dividing and trackers of numbers just doesn’t seem to help me accomplish that. I was best with money, surprisingly, when I was 18 years old and wanted to buy a new car. I had no budgeting system at all; I just spent very little and saved as much as I could. It’s true now that with a family there are a lot more expenses to take care of, but the “save as much as possible” strategy still holds strong.

When I wanted that new car, I was focused. I put most of the money I made into a high-yield savings account and kept about $80 or less for myself for the week, with which I could do whatever I wanted. Yes, my current situation has quite a bit more factors, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be more complicated. I just need to be focused: schedule out all recurring expenses, use $100 cash each week for necessities (plus $15 with which to do whatever I want), and save the rest for paying down debt.

Responsibility and freedom rolled together in a simple system.

I Cut My Own Hair!

I don’t spend a lot of money on hair products. It can be tough to find a nice complimentary shampoo, and possibly conditioner, but I always used up the bottles of whatever I bought to try so I didn’t feel like I was throwing money away. I got my value, even if I didn’t find my true shampoo match yet.

I don’t spend any money to color my hair either. I love the color of my hair so I’ve never wanted to dye it. I never plan to dye it, even when it starts to go grey. Grey hair just doesn’t bother me. Shrug.

My hair is naturally pretty manageable. It’s thick and straight, except for when I have thin fly-aways or where it waves. Maybe I’ve just gotten good at working with my hair, instead of trying to torture it into submission. Or maybe it’s just plain accomodating — there’s never been a problem getting it to do anything fancy that anyone’s tried to do with it (cheer leading and dance competitions, proms, weddings, etc).

I also own few hair accessories. Just simple, standard hair ties, hair pins, a cloth head-band, and my trademark flower barrettes.

So, generally, I never spent a lot of money on my hair. Yet I’d still feel duped when I would go to a salon to get it cut and it would cost $50 (+ tip). I’ve heard and read of women dropping a hundo or more on their hair every two or three months, and I felt robbed if I had to pay $50 every year. It made me wonder: am I so cheap?

But, no, I’m not cheap. Or at least I don’t think I’m that cheap. I will pay more for diapers, for example, because they are more environmentally friendly, even though they literally get shat on and thrown away. But hair. I never left a hair salon and felt now that was money well spent, whether I spent $10 or $60. The money I had to shell out just didn’t match up with the value for me.

It was just hair getting cut with scissors. I cut my own fingernails — no big deal. My husband cuts his own hair and our sons’, albeit with electric clippers instead of scissors. They have and will be able to save hundreds and hundreds of dollars by cutting their own hair. I wanted in. So I tried it.

Just so we’re clear, I didn’t do very much research into this. Back in high school my friend and I figured that cutting hair from a pony-tail would create layers (we were right). A couple of years ago, I watched a couple of YouTube videos about it and didn’t find them very helpful. Also, to clarify, my long hair gave me a comfortable margin for error and I was prepared to go to a salon for a fix-up if any disasters occurred (they did not).

So. The Process:

I used a hair tie to put my hair into a pony-tail at the crown of my head. I put another hair tie around the tail and pulled it up away from my head to just below where I planned to cut. Then I took very sharp scissors and hacked away, straight across. (First I tried a butcher knife on my cutting block, but it didn’t make a dent. Either Mulan had a very sharp sword or I have hair like a steel cable.)

When I took my hair down from the pony-tail, it had the big, chunky layers I wanted and expected. I did a bit more trimming off the longest layer while my hair was down because I wanted it a bit shorter. I split my hair roughly down the middle and pulled it to the front, (like how you pretend to have a beard — you know what I’m talking about, other long-haired ladies), and just snipped away the ends until it was my desired length.

Now, full disclosure, this hair cut is not highly refined. It is not feathery; in fact, it is rather blunt. But it’s a simple hair style, which is all I ever wanted. I am very happy with how this procedure worked for my hair. Nobody has said anything about my hair since I cut it, like What? D’you get in a fight with your lawnmower and lose? or Did your kids cut your hair while you were asleep or something? or even Thank goodness, you finally did something about those split ends. It is a good 4-5 inches shorter, but still long, so I guess it’s hard for other people to notice when my hair just isn’t that important to them.

Perhaps I should’ve done before and after photos, but I wasn’t thinking of this blog so much when I did it. I was just hot and tired of carrying around a hair-blanket on my head. I wanted to save money and not have to get a babysitter so I could go out to a salon. I wanted to see if I could cut my own hair… and I could! I did! And I like it!

So this’ll be my hair M.O. from now on. Once every year or two should do it. Boom. Money in the bank.