My Recovery

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My Recovery…

Congratulations to Jeff, a recovering budgetaholic … he had an unusual spending month, which happens when you are trying to budget: Life gets in the way! What advice can you give Jeff, other than telling him that MY wife had to cooperate for the one month that we did this exercise … and, it was well worth it 🙂


I started out April’s expense experiment with good intentions of writing down everything I spent money on.

However, I ran into some challenges conducting the exercise.

The first being, I was on travel for three weeks in April for work.  Pretty much all of the money passing through my hands (food, lodging, rental car etc.) was outside my normal habits and was being reimbursed by the government.

It didn’t seem correct to include reimbursable travel expenses as a characterization of how I spend money.

Another wrinkle this month was my children’s school spring break.  I had the entire family join me on travel for one week.  We don’t normally take a week’s vacation every month.  Maybe after I reach my Number, but it’s not our current modus operandi.  Again, uncharacteristic spending that I don’t think accurately paints our picture.

The final challenge was that my wife is our family’s “Money Handler.”  By that I mean, she’s in charge of keeping the business of our household running, so she drives almost all of our spending.

She loves me, but she wasn’t too thrilled about my request that she do all the work for my commitment to 7MIT.   🙂  I can’t blame her one bit.

I didn’t push the issue and instead we decided we’d operate per our normal habit patterns and just give our credit card statement at the end of the month.

In 2002 we made the transition from checks and cash finances to full up credit card use.  We use a single credit card for everything (save for a couple bills that haven’t caught up with the Internet age).  We almost never have cash on hand, hardly ever write a check and I can’t remember the last time I licked a stamp.

Oh wait, yes I can, it was the invitations for our Christmas party.

No, those were “peel and stick” stamps.

Never mind…I don’t lick stamps, I don’t write checks and I don’t carry cash.

So how did we do?

Surprisingly well.  You may recall that we moved in February and things are still very much in the air.  I still have several boxes to unpack, pictures to hang, and myriad “honey-do’s” to attend to.

Financially our discretionary expenses are returning to “pre-move” levels of $3500-$4000 per month.  Words can’t describe how happy this makes me.

The most surprising thing I noticed was that we spent $1000 related to our new home (decorating, painting, and you name its).  That amount wasn’t so surprising as much as the fact that our April expenses of $3700 actually included that $1000 home improvement bill.

Kudos go to my wife, because the only way that could happen is that she’s been SCRIMPING MAJORLY in other areas right now in order to pull that off.

That pretty much captures the major revelations I had this month.  Not too earth shattering I’m pleased to say.

Some of the mundane nature of my results may be due to the fact that Kelly and I have been operating under a no-budget budget since we shifted to monthly credit operations.  I don’t focus on the weeds of our spending….e.g. this nickel for this category, that dime for that one.  Rather I focus on the discretionary outflows each month and as long as we’re in the $3500-$4000 range I’m happy.

Before 2002, I was a budgetaholic.  I’m a much happier man since my recovery.

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Reader Comments

Jeff, you are cookin’ with gas on all the Money Making 101 lessons. I think you, like a few of us are chomping at the bit to put things in full gear for Money Making 201! Keep up the good work 😉

Jeff, The one credit card idea is something I implemented recently as you do. Helps me to keep track.

Josh, you’re right it does make for an easy review of expenditures and tracking. It also is nice for racking up frequent flyer miles or rewards cash. I recently cashed in for $1000 cash reward on my card.

@Josh and Jeff – Couldn’t agree more. Automatic and electronic. I use Quciken to download them and create reports on the data. I’ve got at least 60,000 miles from credit card for the past 3 years. 2 bonus 25,000 miles and regular expenses. Too bad business travel is cut down this year. I might loose my frequent flier status.

@ Jeff – You, like some of the other MITs – seem well in control of your expenses; but, it JUST might be that the May 10-1-1-1-1 exercise (coming soon to a blog near you …) might help you; find a non-monetary way to bribe your wife 😉