Scary stories from a lovely place
Since Stephen started working part way through last year we’ve been trying to live on a tight budget. We were never great budgeters in Jozi because we not only had separate bank accounts but also operated in different currencies.
It’s been a cool experience for us compose a budget and try and stick to it. Unfortunately we rarely do. Groceries and Entertainment are always over. There are always miscellaneous purchases that find their way mysteriously into a column on our Excel file. Stephen is an Excel enthusiast. He used to work in an office that loved administration more than architecture so he knows all the mind-bending formulas.
We designed the budget around Mary Hunt’s book ‘Debt-proof your Marriage’. It’s an unhelpful title since her principles could be applied to anyone. She also has a website called Debt Proof Living. As you can see, she’s pretty anti-debt. She has a bad past with money management and had to work hard to claw out of deep credit card debt that her husband didn’t know about. They survived, and now she’s built an empire on what she learned.
Hunt’s suggestions are manageable and realistic. The bit we love the most is her 80-10-10 rule. She says you live on 80% of your income, you give away 10% and you save 10%. And then there’s the Freedom Account which is full of little savings accounts for different items of spending.
Stephen really loves the budget. He sits at the computer and plays with formulas and tracks our (over)spending. I’m not as zealous but the budget does makes me feel free, not restricted because I know how much money we have. Stephen wants us to take it seriously, but he’s not a dictator about it. I don’t feel like a bad wife when we go over on the groceries, though we always do.
But not this month. I am determined that this month we will come in on budget. It’s going to be pretty tight, and to be honest, we probably won’t make it. But I’m really trying. We’re eating a lot of pasta. I’m baking instead of buying such goods.
This month the groceries expenditure is already pretty high. We had a party last weekend. We’ve cooked food to give people. I’ve experimented with a vegetable delivery service. This being the last week of the month means we only have $48 to spend, and today I spent $20. So $28 to last until Saturday.
Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.