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Karl and Heather's Journey:

The Small Stuff

Changing our mindset about spending and savings was at first daunting, but it has since evolved into Heather and my new way of thinking. Much harder (especially for me) is changing spending habits. If you have been following our blogs, you’ve read about Heather using her phone shopping apps, amending where she shops and how she shops to save big $$ every trip to the grocery store. The ‘You Saved X’ line item on receipts and rebate dollars back into our Grocery account are rewarding, and a visual reminder of good planning/choices she is making. For those that know Heather this will not be a surprise; when she makes up her mind to do something she does and sticks to the plan; hence she shops while I blog!

But Project Money is not just about successful shopping for meals, household goods and basic staples; it’s about making the right choices all the time. It is one thing to say you are going to do it, and another to do it when that little voice inside your head suggests otherwise. Here are three of my internal arguments and how I am trying to choose wisely when my ears are ringing:

1. Reward Thyself. Completing a grueling lawn mowing and/or weeding job makes me feel good. Since my approach is “full-contact-yardwork” there are always tons of sweat, dirt and sore muscles to go around. Thus on the drive to the Badger Road drop-off site, the neon beacons at gas stations/convenience stores trigger my Pavlov-like urge to swing in for an ice cold fountain drink & bag of Buffalo Combos (my mouth is watering just typing it)! My advice in situations like this or similar (e.g. finishing a hard workout, returning from a successful fishing trip, wanting to make a good feeling turn into a great one) is get a positive voice in your head and obey it:

a. A song - I got both hands on the wheel, and my big foot on the gas yeah (Chickenfoot)

b. A movie quote – Just keep swimming (Dory)

c. A truth – you can use Coca Cola to clean a toilet bowl (everyone)

2. You Can’t Disappoint the Kids. Daddy-Daughter time is priceless to me. Since I have 3 daughters to somehow find 1:1 time with, there has usually been planning on their side of what all we will do: First we’ll go out to breakfast; second we’ll go to Target; third we’ll stop for ice cream! Yes this all adds up to a wonderful time together, but it also adds up to un-planned & unnecessary expenses. I am finding that their brief disappointment is overcome when we talk through all the fun & free things we can do instead: Take Roxy to the dog park; make homemade cookies; go on a bike ride. My advice is focus on the quality of time instead of the quantity of dollars.

3. It’s Tradition. In our family it’s going out to Kathy’s Ice Cream & Candy Shoppe when Up North. Even I’ll admit it – after a long day of swimming and boating, a monster scoop of mint chocolate chip is heaven! However, this summer we found alternatives such using an ice cream maker to create homemade flavors, and being happy/grateful to enjoy the store-bought options grandparents provide (eating around a roaring campfire helps too).

So our message this week is always think twice before you spend, and don’t let guilt or a sense of duty diminish all the other wise decisions you are making. The small stuff can really add up…and in the end are things that you can definitely live happily without. 


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