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The biggest thing that helped me gain financial control

June 7th, 2009 at 07:35 am

Just finished up the numbers regarding the spending during May and it was not too bad, but June will be better. I can feel it!

I posted the sheet of May's spending on my refrigerator right next to April's numbers, which is next to March's numbers. It helps me to visually scan across the pages to know that my grocery use has increased every month, but eating out declined. My water bill skyrocketed- I need to cut back on watering the lawn.

I started using the fridge as a 'financial update board' last year around August because it's the only spot my husband hangs around while he eats peanut butter out of (his own!) jar.

At the time it was him who was spending excessively on fast food, video games and it was putting us into a big gaping negative cash flow hole. I really resented him for spending on useless items when I was cutting back/cutting back/and cutting back more to try and save money. I felt that every hundred dollars a month I saved by forgoing this or that- he would spend it for 1 pair of shoes. Or in a gift for me. And we were never getting anywhere!

So having the list of the previous months spending posted right where he was sure to see it everyday was my way of trying to really wake him up. And it worked! It taught him the importance of tracking the spending- he writes down his purchases on the blank sheet posted next to the previous months numbers. It took a month or two of me always asking him to remember every purchase, but now he diligently writes down everything at the end of the day. I made myself a rule to NEVER make a comment about any of the purchases he recorded on the fridge. I didn't want to start a fight, or encourage him to 'omit' certain items that would start a fight. After a few months he saw for himself how much his fast food added up. He was able to not only distinguish between the smart purchases, but to see the difference in his spending and my spending.

And he sometimes makes comments about the culminated costs of certain categories- such as eating out, or home improvement.

He also got an education in how much money our household really pulls in. We have so many sources of income that change depending on the time of year, that it is hard to see the large numbers. We both got a pleasant surprise that we pull in close to $3500 a month- and we were equally disappointed to see that it was being spent so frivolously.

The fridge method opened the door for him to ask me questions. In the car one day he told me about how he told his friend he did not want to replace his older truck because he wants to be "financially free." I was thrilled that he was listening to me and taking an interest.

The fridge method works for us. It was a big BIG turning point for BB and me. Being able to see where our money is going, dealing with the accountability of putting our purchases on the sheet of paper for everyone to see, congratulating each other when one category of spending is less than the previous month, or savings has increased.

And now I live alone while BB is in TX for 3 more months. I could easily de-clutter the fridge and keep the paperwork in a drawer, but I continue the fridge method. I am proud of our spending habits, our accomplishments and don't want to jinx whatever it is about the fridge that helps us. And it's a great conversation piece for friends and family who visit. Helping to get the debt/saving money conversation going.

Anyways, I talked about my fridge method when I started it almost a year ago- but I wanted to write about it for new members. I feel very in control over the finances now. I only write about tweaking things nowadays. But less than a year ago I felt like we were working backwards financially.

The one thing I might need to do is get some cuter magnets though.

(BTW- the last 2 months WE HAVE spent more money than we were earning. You can see it plain as day in one of the pictures. We have been using the money from savings. We did just buy a house, and I did just get a job 2 weeks ago. June should be a positive cash flow month.)

10 Responses to “The biggest thing that helped me gain financial control”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    Thanks for sharing. DH and I seem to have things in control, but I would guess something similar to your fridge method would help him tremendously.

  2. No Pain | No Gain Says:

    Great post!! Unfortunately, I have kids who would tear that down in a minute. Not the point of your post though. I am so glad that BB has turned things around. You can certainly tell, from reading your posts a year ago, and now. Great job Gamecock! Smile

  3. Blue Eyes Says:

    That is a great idea! It seems to be working well for you! Keep up the good work! Smile

  4. Ima saver Says:

    Very smart idea!!

  5. whitestripe Says:

    great work Smile it seems we have sort of led parralel lives in that respect, DF has been slowly learning as well, at the same time as BB. I like the fridge method and I meant to start using it too, but I forgot. DF has been pretty good with remembering what he spends now (though sometimes it is a matter of "well, on friday I had $100 in my wallet, and now I have $5 left...") but you've reminded me to give this way a try.
    One question though: what do you do when you have friends over? Do you leave it there as a talking point, or put it away? I am not so concerned with friends knowing our income or what we spend our money on, just the fact that they already know I'm a bit of an organisational freak, this would just put me on a whole other level! Big Grin

  6. gamecock43 Says:

    Depending on the friends I decide what to do. If it is anyone who earns about equal or more than us, I leave it up. I only put it away for my broke friends,(don't want them to feel bad or jealous or anything) or my one friend with a big family. I don't want to remind her or her husband how drastically different our lives are (reflected in our spending habits) since they have 3 kids and I have none. Funny though- I think BBs dad has seen the lists but never commented, and only one friend did comment by saying ":hey whats this?...you record everything? Good for you!" And meanwhile he could really stand to start doing it himself.

  7. Broken Arrow Says:

    Really glad to hear that the fridge method is working for you!

  8. boomeyers Says:

    Thanks for sharing! Great ideas!

  9. ceejay74 Says:

    Wow, great idea! I should make the finances more visible to NT and AS--I gave them sharing access on a couple of the spreadsheets, telling them to let me know if they have any input, but I doubt they check them much. But maybe if I posted them somewhere (hmmm, now I'm thinking in a folder as bathroom reading) it would get them thinking more often.

  10. whitestripe Says:

    i am the same, one of my closest friends is an apprentice, and while i help HER with her money issues, i can't stand to talk about my own income with her because she earns only $9 an hour, which is less than half of my own wage (and we do the same job! however - when she finishes, she will earn more than me). it's funny, that.
    most people i know wouldn't bat an eyelid talking about their finances if the other earns less than them, they only have issues when the other person earns MORE, then they get embarrased. i am the complete opposite. weird!
    maybe i should do the fridge thing, and leave it up, and see who comments on it Big Grin
    thinking about it now, i'm kind of curious as to what people will say. (though - we do have some friends that don't think before doing. i can imagine them writing stupid crap on it. we used to have a cleaning roster when we lived in a share house, and two friends would ALWAYS come and swap it around, saying all the cleaning was DF's turn. Funny, but it gets old after the 100th time.)

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