We have an in-law that is crazy enough to do the Madison Ironman Triathlon…for the fourth time! This weekend was a training bike ride of eighty miles on the actual course that she will be racing on next month, and she drove all the way from downtown Chicago to do it.
Sally’s commitment to training and getting a feel for the course got me thinking about our Project Money race to reduce debt and increase savings. We both have personal coaches (yeah Laura!), we both are very conscious about having a plan and sticking to it, and we both sometimes get freaked out when we have big obstacles to overcome. In Sally’s case that was eighty miles on a bicycle followed the next day by running eighteen miles; in our case it is finding ways to stay within budget in one of the most financially taxing months of our year.
Our ‘Back to School’ savings account had its first withdrawal of the summer for the required binders, pencils and folders that are standard order on all three of our daughters’ lists. Heather was a rock star and saved $10 by signing up to get promotional emails, and another $5 gift card for spending over thirty dollars at Shopko. We don’t often get excited about school supply shopping, but this was a pretty great reason to celebrate! Next we had a payment for Phoebe’s synchronized skating team. Unlike the Back to School account, our Ice Skating account is all too familiar with starting the month full and quickly reducing to single digits. This weekend had an extra twist in that both Shannon and Phoebe had a skating clinic to attend in Madison, but we had already made plans to visit family in Menominee, Michigan. So Ding! Our gasoline savings account took a hit as well (not to mention my aching backside from driving three hours in each direction on Saturday). Just like Sally making the commitment to drive from Chicago to get a hands-on experience, this was an activity that simply could not be missed. We toed the line and packed them hearty snacks and drinks, but there is no getting back the travel time and family time that was missed.
Ok, enough bleeding money for one weekend, right? No. Our final dings came courtesy of inflated slides/bouncy houses and festival restaurant booths at the yearly waterfront show in Menominee. The tradeoffs: a free and amazing fireworks show, stunning lake glass souvenirs and a great weekend of catching up with family and meeting new friends. So our Vacation and Dining Out accounts are a bit lighter then when we started the month, but we all agree that it was money worth spending.
Although we are only six days into August and have already withdrawn funds from four of our savings accounts, we still should be able to come in on budget and also create awesome signs to cheer on Sally come next month! To get there we will be cutting back in other areas and likely foregoing some end-of-summer activities. At the end of the day, you just can’t put a price on memories and quality family time…especially when you are watching every penny.