by Amy Lawson MBA, CDFA®
Do you realize we are getting ready to share our sixth glass of wine? Look how far you’ve come! You now avoid the rabbit hole of guilt; where at first you may have tip-toed around the edges, you now cross the street all together – that alone is HUGE. You have chosen to take charge of your finances by first exploring your feelings and then your thoughts about money – another HUGE accomplishment. You now know how your cash flows and have committed to getting rid of your debt – HUGE again. So, what’s the next sip? Living within our means.
The most difficult part of living within our means is resisting the temptation to live beyond it. We see something we LOVE and the old FEELINGS create the old THOUGHTS that make us reach for our old enemy that feels like our old friend – the credit card.
But, how to do we live within our means? The easiest way is to work our Spending Plan (you created your Spending Plan glass before last, remember?). You now know how many dollars you need for life’s realities as well as for your dreams so set aside the dollars each pay period for both, directing them not only to what is important today but what will likely be important tomorrow. In short, you are going to pay yourself first: Fund your dreams AND pay for life’s realities with cash, not credit.
But how do we do that? How do we live within our means?
Two glasses ago, you figured out how your cash flowed in the prior month by dissecting your bank statement over a glass of wine. Now we are going to drill down a little deeper. While the bank statement showed us how much we SPENT and where we spent it, we now need to know how much we are SPENDING as we spend it.
Our next sip involves actively tracking our spending. If you love technology, try the ACE Budget 3 Lite app; it’s free and easy to use. You set the limit for each category, then input the amount you spend for each purchase within those categories and the app calculates how much you have left to spend.
For example, if your Spending Plan allows you to spend $50 per month for wine, then each time you purchase a bottle of wine, you record the total in the “wine” category and the app does the math for you. Easy-peasy, as our sisters across the pond have been heard to say.
If technology is not your friend, then feel free to go old school and use a pocket notebook. Assign one page in your little notebook for each category, writing your allowance for each at the top of the designated page. Each time you buy a bottle of wine, for example, subtract the total wine expenditure from your total wine allowance and you get the amount you have left to spend on wine for the rest of the month. Not as easy-peasy as using an app, but easy-peasy enough to keep you on track.
You may be horrified to find yourself in negative numbers before the first month’s end. But, before the horror turns to guilt and the rabbit hole starts to beckon, stop for a moment and reframe what you just learned… Once you realize just how much money you habitually spend in each category, you will be able to recognize opportunities to “re-direct.”
If eating out at lunchtime is your favorite downfall, then re-direct half of those dollars to brown-bagging… If the shop girl at the Micheal Kors store at the mall not only knows your name but your daughter’s (and granddaughter’s) name as well, re-direct those dollars to TJ Maxx for the next season or two… If your favorite wine is on a shelf so high the proprietor of the posh wine shop down the block gets a nosebleed from the climb, re-direct those dollars back to Kroger every other week, if not more often.
The point is, we can have our favorite downfalls without always falling down.
Until next time…
This week’s wine recommendations come from The Other Guys in Napa, California.
RED LOVERS: Pennywise, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013. “…Dark garnet in color, this wine has complex aromas consisting of blackberries, Bing cherry, a hint of fresh leather and crushed oregano. In the mouth, flavors start with black currant, tart raspberry, coffee nibs, dark caramel, mocha, toasted coconut, and pecan while the finish lingers with notes of dried plum, sweetened cranberry and cocoa.”
WHITE LOVERS: Pennywise, Chardonnay, 2013. “…With rich aromas of toasty vanilla, sugar cookie, and applesauce, this Chardonnay is a delight on the senses. On the palate, tropical fruits combine with a roasted nut character from French oak barrels. A fruity, medium-body balanced by a bright acidity transition to a lingering mouthfeel.”
Another reason to try The Other Guys… “The Other Guys represents the next chapter in the more than 115-year history of the Sebastiani Family, one of California’s oldest wine families. Fourth generation member August Sebastiani is carrying on the legacy of his great-grandfather and is absolutely driven to continue his family tradition of quality winemaking. Like his ancestors, Aug is building his company – The Other Guys – the old-fashioned way, one handshake at a time. Simple. Straightforward. What you see is what you get. Just like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Aug Sebastiani is doing business as it was done in the early days of California wine, when all of the wine companies were family-owned and operated.”