Project 7: Spending

In my aim to revisit specific areas of my life through Project 7, focus intentionally on them for a month, and see what changes I can make to better align my daily life with my long-term goals, I now turn to my spending. I've written before about budgeting, cutting out shopping, and getting rid of debt, but I am once again motivated to think about how I spend my money for a different reason: my sister and I are househunting! We have barely begun the process, but I know it's going to be an expensive one.

In light of the inevitably huge expenses we will face, I'm setting aside July as my month to closely monitor my spending. After thinking so much about my possessions last month, I know I don't need to fill my home with more and more stuff to be happy. But I also know that unless I'm really careful about what I buy on a regular basis, it's easy to look back at the end of the month and be surprised about where my money went.

I am committing to taking a good, hard look at my budget and revising it as necessary to allow me to save the money I need for our new home. I don't know for sure what we'll need yet, but unexpected repairs could come up at any time, and I want to be prepared to handle them. Of course, I also want to allow room for buying more fun things like paint or furnishings.

There are some things that I obviously can't cut out of my budget this month-- things like groceries, gasoline, rent, utilities, and tithing. However, I do plan to stick to those categories and not make impulse buys. I have far more than I need, and I know being able to have more money saved for a future goal is going to be well worth the tightened purse strings.

One thing I have begun to do is create a long-term shopping list of things I'd eventually like to buy when I have the money (mostly bigger-ticket items, but not always). Creating a shopping list might sound counter-intuitive in trying to save money, but by creating this list, I'm forced to prioritize my spending. I know that if I want to be able to buy the items on my list, I have to be willing to say "no" to buying other things.

This way, I'm not refusing to buy the things I could really make use of, but I'm also not emptying my bank account by going on huge shopping sprees. It gives me breathing room and ample time to evaluate whether I really do want a particular item enough to pay for it. By putting something on a long-term list, I'm essentially forcing myself to hold off on buying it for a while, and giving myself the opportunity to wait it out and see if my desire for it was a passing thing or if I still want it down the road.

Do you have any tips for keeping your spending in check? I'd love to hear them!