“It’s Not In the Budget!”

I admit it.  I’ve become a Dave Ramsey freak.

I was talking to a friend after church on Sunday, and she said she thought she and her husband were going to go out to lunch with another couple, and she invited me along.

“Nah,” I replied.  “It’s not in the budget.”

My parents came to visit us over Thanksgiving.  We have over-the-air television (no cable or satellite) and it often doesn’t come in very well.  We have to do these crazy dances to adjust the rabbit ears in order to get something watchable.  We had a roof antenna a few years ago, but storms blew it apart and it’s not even hooked up to the TV anymore.  Dad was a little frustrated, I think, that I wasn’t able to get anything besides Deal or No Deal.

“Well,” I told him, “We’re saving for a roof antenna.  We just haven’t got all the money for it yet.  But we’re budgeting for it!”

It’s the beginning of December, and we haven’t turned our heat on yet.  We have a wood stove that heats the house pretty well, but it’s no tropical paradise.  And snow is in the forecast for this week. I mentioned to Chef yesterday, “It might be time to turn the heat on.”

“Really?” he said.  “You think so?”

I started thinking about the cost of the gas bill when we turn the heat on, and how we got all our firewood for free.  “Well… maybe not yet,” I answered.

After all, that’s what sweaters and blankets and thermal socks are for, right?

I can’t remember the last time we went out on a date, aside from little trips to fast food restaurants where we use our mad money — mad money that we have carefully placed in the budget.  It’s amazing how big a treat a Big Mac is when you haven’t had one in months.  But now we’ve added “Date Night” to our budgeting, and we assign $10 per paycheck to our date.  That means we’re going to have to keep putting money into the Date envelope and not take any out for a long time if we want to go on any fancy dates.

But we don’t need fancy dates.  A movie from the library or a game of Scrabble or a walk among the Christmas lights all make pretty fine dates.

But I do miss margaritas.

Margaritas aren’t in the budget.

This year, there was one big gift I knew I wanted to get Chef for Christmas, and we budgeted for it, but that didn’t leave a lot of room for other things.  So the other gifts I got for him are cheaper (hooray for the Dollar General!) and the gifts I’m giving others are a homemade craft.  I spent less than $7 for gifts that I made for six people (and I kept a few for myself as well.)

After Christmas, I’ll show you what I made.

But I love that I spent $7 and less than two hours on these gifts.  Now that fits in the budget.

Dave always says (don’t you love how I’m on a first-name basis with a man I’ve never met?) — “Live like no one else so that someday you can live like no one else.”  Well, I don’t think I know anyone else who wears a hat and scarf in her own house to avoid turning on the furnace, or who stands in a particular place in the living room for fifteen minutes so that she and her husband can help conduct the television signal long enough to finish the episode they’re watching, or who scours the Dollar General looking for deals on Christmas gifts that she will wrap in newspaper because she won’t spend money on wrapping paper.

Because someday, Chef and I are going to be out of debt.

And we’re going to have savings and investments and we’re going to give lots away.

And we’re going to buy a houseboat that we can live on all summer.

And I, for one, am going to drink margaritas.


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andy
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 14:47:55

    I love that! My wife and I are on the same plan and it’s pretty funny the flack we get. We do splurge and have a margarita once in a while, but of course — we budget for it!!

    Great post…

  2. Rachel
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 15:38:56

    Atta Girl!!

  3. Blythe
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 16:04:08

    I love this post, Karen. When we lived in Japan, we used to wear hats and scarves to bed because we didn’t have heat in our apartment. (Well, we had space heaters, but you can’t leave those on at night.) 🙂 And, I know about the envelope savings plan. We do that for vacations, and it’s great not to have to put anything on the credit cards when traveling.

    Here’s our ‘around the world’ trip savings plan: we’ve got an envelope that gets filled with ‘found’ cash that we earn selling things on craigslist, ebay, and amazon. Once the envelope gets a fair amount of money in it, we’ll deposit it in an ING account that’s just for the trip. Repeat. And, away we go!

  4. Heather
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 16:10:39

    K, I think this is one of your best posts yet. Very well done, and kudos to you and Chef for your diligence and stewardship. I’m very proud of you!

  5. Money Funk
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 16:34:28

    This post is just what I needed!
    I am glad to find someone else that doesn’t mind being living to the bare and wants to really stick to the budget. I am finally getting the hang of living like this and I think people see me as ‘odd’. But you’re right, Dave is right (I think we all go with the first name basis like he’s a friend- lol), “live like no one else so that someday you can live like no one else”.

    I really needed this inspirational post now, too. Because with the holidays I was feeling a little glum that I couldn’t go out and shop like the others because, “it was not in the budget”. I am really determined not to rack up new debt this holiday. My family will really benefit from this because we will be debt free one day. 🙂

    Here! Here! *clanking of glasses with our virtual margaritas*

  6. Vanessa (Last Night's Leftovers)
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 16:41:54

    Love it. You are very dedicated!

  7. Rita
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 17:49:23

    Can’t wait to see your $7 creativity!
    You are such an example.
    Great post. Great savings plan.
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Leah Koch -Sower
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 20:45:25

    I have not turned on my heat yet either but thats because I am drinking Marggaritas , alas soon it will be time to put down the drink and turn on the heat

  9. Nikki
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 21:26:34

    You’re neat. 🙂

    • Karen, the Small Town Runner
      Dec 03, 2009 @ 08:36:58

      Thanks to Blake with The Dave Ramsey Show who retweeted what I sent him about this post. I got lots of hits on this one! (Blake’s retweet said, “RT @Small_Town_Runr: Living like no one else http://bit.ly/4J4L24 /Blake:Great ex. of doing what it takes to win & to get to Margaritaville”)

      And thanks to everyone who followed Blake’s link on Twitter and checked out my post. 🙂

  10. Tracy
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 11:13:10

    Great post – I love Dave Ramsey too!!

  11. Hannah
    Dec 07, 2009 @ 11:03:08

    Karen! Sorry this is a little late but I am so excited for you and Cheffie! Glad you’re getting some much deserved recognition for your combined superpowers! I laughed (in a good way) when I read this post as I was in my apartment wearing fingerless gloves, two sweaters and a hat. Trying to keep the cost of living to a minimum because I am cheap…and so I don’t have to accumulate too much debt while I am in school. I love my thrifty friends! It’s always encouraging to know you’re not alone! 🙂

  12. FinanciallySmart
    Dec 17, 2009 @ 23:09:29

    Excellent post.

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