I think I'm in denial.
Let me set the scene here: we are a family of four. There's me, Penny, my husband Eddie, our four-year-old daughter, Carol, and our two-year-old son, Al. We moved here from New York City to London over a year ago for my husband's job. I don't work in London so I'm a full time mom, or mum, as the Brits say. The first year here we learned a lot. London is expensive, much, much more expensive that Manhattan, and we're not on the fabulous American ex-pat package. We have to pay for our own housing, flights home, council tax, television tax and every other little tiny tax that comes our way. It stinks. It's hard. We're not saving anything. It has to stop.
We took a good long look at our expenses, savings, income and output. One exceeded the other - and not the good way. We were spending more than we were making. Savings were being dipped into, college funds not being contributed to, house fund sitting idol with no influx of cash. We were stagnant. Things needed to change. After much discussion, we decided we had to cut back.
Here's what we're doing:
- Paying off the credit cards and not using them unless of an emergency
- No housekeeper
- We moved into a less expensive flat, that is not flash but is good enough
- Cash only
- Spending is cut to a limit
- Budgeting for everything: groceries, hair cuts, meals, evenings out, sitters, etc.
- Menu planning
- Saving in UK pounds sterling (we only have US savings and investments)
- Selling things on eBay
- Learning how to use coupons, groupon, searching for deals, and trade-offs
- Blogging about it
I know nothing about this. I've read articles about cutting corners, how to shop wisely, how to menu plan and shop at Costco, etc. But I've never put any into action. I love to cook but we like steak, rack of lamb, and other fancy things - I'll have to become inventive.
We have two small children so they have to be entertained on the cheap (for the most part) and we have to have date nights out (mandatory). We are far from destitute, but we want to take this challenge and manage our spending for a full year. I worry I will fail and dash to the High Street to buy Kiehl's lotion for £50 in a fit of hysteria. I don't know if I can handle homemade facial scrubs. I don't know if I can menu plan and stick to it - what if I'm not in the mood for pork chops on Tuesday when it's on the calendar - and where do I find a calendar?
There's much to learn and I have less than two months to sort myself out before Operation A Penny Saved 2012 gets underway. Wish me luck. And send me tips, questions, ideas, thoughts, support, criticism - I encourage it all.
Stick around. It could get interesting!