Our baby girl was a bit of a wreck last week. She got her four-month shots, and for a few days she didn’t feel very good. One minute she’d be all smiles and giggles, but the tiniest blip could set her into crying at the top of her lungs. And vice versa. One moment she’d be crying and then she’d smile and kick her legs excitedly at something she saw. It was very Jekyll-and-Hyde-esque. Thankfully, after a few days, her happy side won out.
At times I feel like I’m at odds with myself as well when it comes to saving and spending. But rather than Jekyll and Hyde, it’s closer to how I’d imagine Danny Tanner and Uncle Joey would be when it comes to saving and spending. More often than not, the Danny side of me shines through and is like, “SAVE MONEY!!!” And then I see a pair of leopard print wedges at Madewell, and my (female) Uncle Joey alter-ego roars, “GIVE ME! MUST BUY!” I think/hope I’m not alone in feeling this way. Is my crazy showing?
Just in case I’m not alone in having a split-spending personality, here’s how Johnny and I tame the wild, conflicting beast that pulls us to be Danny one moment and Joey the next:
Save Like Danny
Track Every Cent Spent
More than anything else, obsessively tracking our spending has been a sure way for Johnny and me to save. By tracking, we’re forced to recognize the price of items we buy and stay conscious of just how much we’re spending. The Joey part of us really hates that we do this. But it works, people. We track our spending using the HomeBudget app since it’s easy to enter the info on our phones. We just type it in and forget about it, which does appease Joey a little bit.
Know the Price Beforehand
Johnny is the Danny Tanner mastermind behind this tip. Basically, this is how it works: we never go to any non-free place without knowing the price in advance. This usually means either checking for prices on a website or calling beforehand. Thus, as Danny would probably do, we’ve turned down a $40/plate dinner with friends and asked to meet them after for dessert instead. It used to really annoy me that Johnny insisted on doing this, but it’s saved us $100’s to date, I’m sure. Just a couple weeks ago I wanted to try a Thai place near our house, but I called and realized it was a tad too pricey to justify on a non-special-occasion night. If we’d driven to the place before finding out the price, there’s a 97% chance we’d have just stayed and paid the $20/plate.
Stash Money Away Before You Even See It
If your Uncle Joey side never sees the money, he’s much less likely to try to spend it on a new Batman costume at your local party store. So how is this done? First, we have a certain percentage of our paychecks put into our 401k/403b automatically. We also have a certain amount of money that automatically transfers from our checking to our savings each month. One day it’s there ready to be spent, and the next day, poof!, it’s gone. Oftentimes, you can also have your company put a certain percentage of your paycheck into different accounts, so you can put your budgeted savings directly into your savings account.
Live Like Joey
Bring Friends Into It
Even when Johnny and I have had our budgeting belts pulled the tightest, it’s never meant wallowing in non-spending despair all by our lonesomes. We still hang out with friends, but we do it on our terms. Instead of getting roped into expensive outings, we suggest having activities at our own home, such as a potluck meal, cookie exchange, or a gathering to watch “the big game.” The men watch the game, the ladies catch up on each other’s lives, and Uncle Joey does his ventriloquist act. When we lived in NYC, we couldn’t have more than a few people to our tiny apartment at once. So we’d suggest a get-together at a park or another couple would volunteer their apartment for the event. The Uncle Joey in us was surprised at how open others were to spending a night at our homes rather than out on the town.
Take a Vacation
When you’re in saving mode, your Danny alter-ego kicks and screams when the word “vacation” is even mumbled by a passerby within earshot. They’re excessive! They’re not necessary! he says to you. Well, tell Danny to cut.it.out. Vacations are necessary. Johnny and I have never gone a summer without a vacation of some sort. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. And it doesn’t have to be long or fancy. But to preserve your sanity, you must take some time off from work and life’s responsibilities. Otherwise, there’s a chance that your Uncle Joey side could burn out forever. Which would make you a forever-Danny. Which would mean you’d have no friends, or only other forever-Danny friends! And we can’t let that happen, can we? Our only rule of thumb to prevent overspending on thrifty vacations is to ensure our entire vacation cost doesn’t exceed the amount earned for our PTO.
Have a Fun Expense Every Week
When you’re saving like Danny, it’s easy to become a saving robot that doesn’t compute anything but SAVE SAVE SAVE. And while saving is all good and well, it can get pretty dull. So to abate the dullness, Johnny and I make sure we have at least one expense each week that we look forward to. Now, don’t get any crazy ideas. We’re talking pretty inexpensive stuff. For us it’s usually a movie rental and a favorite takeout meal together on Friday night after Baby Girl’s asleep. Right now we’re digging a Japanese place down the street. Other possible fun weekly expenses for us? For me, it might be buying a fictional book and a bag of gummy worms. For Johnny it might be hitting balls at a driving range. Either way, the Joey and Danny in us are both appeased.
So that’s how we quell the conflicting Danny Tanner and Uncle Joey storms that rage within us. We give into both, while being true to ourselves, our other selves, and our budget.
We hope our confessing to having a split-spending personality has been helpful in some way. Or maybe we’ve just made you even more concerned than you already were about the state of our mental health. Are you more of a Danny Tanner or an Uncle Joey?
(Original photo by iamagenious)