My Resolution for December: Plan Then Spend

The ending of each month is like making a “new year’s resolution” for the following month.  It is always my intention to take the time to look back and see what I have accomplished; if I spent too much (I never buy too little) or if my priorities were in the right place.  Each month, I fail because I never took the time to plan.  I never look at the calendar fully (family, sports, business, my husband’s plans, etc) to see what opportunities exist for me to prepare for the unexpected.  I always seem to come up empty and unfulfilled. What happens to me is that I allow distractions (e.g. buying kitchen items that I think I need at that moment, fees for entry to basketball tournaments and swimming meets, succumbing to the kids’ needs/wants, etc).  Why don’t I have money in my pocket?  Where did it all go?  Does that ever happen to you?
I always tell parents that it is important that you stock your pantry; make sure you have the necessary items so that if you have unexpected guests you can make almost anything from scratch. The same is true for your household budget.  Add petty cash to your line item in your budget (as I intend to do) and make it your limit.  When it is gone, there is no more.  There is no magic bean that will create more beans (money) in your jar.  When you start seeing the money dwindle, you will be less likely to use it so quickly.  Let your kids know that there is a limit to what you can do based on the petty cash.  If your kids are older, they can start their own petty cash (e.g. baby sitting, snowing shoveling business) that they can take from and expense as they like.  You can take a part time job (as I have.  Matter-a-fact, I am looking for a more permanent part-time job within my field of marketing/sales) or create a home-business to help with the incidentals.  In this new economy, we all can play a part to reduce debt and stress in the family.
I would also recommend that you use and make visible your family calendar. I would recommend Google Calendar.  It is a good tool that you can make private (and invite only family members to view/edit it).  You can have one or more persons in your family responsible for adding information to the calendar.  Make sure all activities are listed.  When adding an “event” to your calendar, you may want to add a symbol ($) that denotes there’s a cost to this activity and that you must plan for it.   At the end of the each month, print the following month’s calendar for all to see. 
I’ve been spoiled (as others in America have been).  Somehow I believed that the money tree will continue to flourish and that it would be at my disposal at all times.  I was like a child with candy; I couldn’t stop spending.  I wish I could say I bought things that were elaborate.  I didn’t.  I was negligent in planning.  I made a lot of unprepared purchases.  I bought a lot of little things that added to a lot of money spent.  I now realize that no matter the cost, every dollar counts. 
My intention in December is to live within my means.  Be resourceful with what I have and to plan then spend. 
It seems as though everyone is looking for the light—the end of this “great recession”.  I believe that there is no going back to the way things were.  This is our new reality and we need to live within our means and that includes me too!  
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