Finding frugal living after it has been lost
Now how do you afford your rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle?
How do you afford your rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle?
How do you afford your rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle?
Oh tell me
Oh yeah alright, alright, oh yeah, alright, oh
Those of us who grew up in the 90s, and had any sort of musical taste, will recognize these lyrics sung by the band Cake. It is about music groupie excess, smashing up guitars and living, well, a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.
No, I am not a musician, nor do I live the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, but for over a year now I have been living a travel lifestyle, and not a frugal one at that.
How it all got started
I come from a family of savers. From an early age I was taught to give ten percent of my money to those less fortunate, and put ten percent of my money into savings. I was religious about doing this, even with my 25-cent allowance (don’t even try to do the math on that one). I was the saver. I was the stockpiler… for years and years and years.
When I grew up I worked in the corporate world. I saved, but I did start to splurge a little on myself. I had no one to take care of. I had very few bills. I finally had money to spend! After I got married we had two incomes and only two of us to feed and house. We paid off some debt, and set some money aside for a rainy day. We worked so much that we had very few opportunities to spend it. I went to grad school in Chicago, which put us into our ultra thrifty mode. We moved to Seattle. This caused us to try to save even more as we adjusted to the increased cost of living. When the boys came along we found that they didn’t cost a ton, we just had to buy more food. We were still putting money into savings. But diapers add up.
Once I left my corporate job and decided to stay home with my oldest son, I stockpiled our money even more. I was terrified to lose my income. We planned out our budget; if we tucked in we could live off of my husband’s salary. Daycare was so expensive my lost income wouldn’t make much of a difference. It took over six months for the money to settle and for me to see where we were at financially. We were doing well. We had a healthy savings account.
And then I got bored.
Before I left my job I had started traveling to Asia for work. I would sneak in an extra day to explore, but I was always frustrated that I didn’t have more vacation time to take advantage of these travel opportunities. Once I was home with my son, what was I waiting for? It was time to travel! We had a very healthy savings account. Surely I could use a bit of it to travel with my family before the kids started school full time in a few short years. We could always save up a little more once they went back to school.
This plan worked for a long time. My husband got a little bonus; we would take another trip. The money was going out, but not much was coming back in to replenish it after a while. Finally the system broke. Although I had started freelancing and my husband’s income was the same, I had over traveled. Our nice little pile of savings was gone. Yes, we had taken some incredible trips (and paid in advance for a few this coming year), but I had not been as thrifty as I should have been. Now I felt like we were in bad shape. The slush fund (and then some) was gone!
What is a slush fund?
A slush fund is the money you get to play with after all your necessary bills are paid. This isn’t your emergency fund. This isn’t the household fund that pays for repairs or your mortgage. This is purely money to have a little fun with, spoil your kids and do things like travel.
History of the slush fund
I learned all about slush funds from my parents. My mom is ultra frugal. My dad is the one who tells her that they can afford to splurge. Both of my parents do freelance work on the side, or pick up extra hours at work from time to time. This is unexpected money. This is cash that they don’t need to pay their bills or maintain their lives. This is their slush fund money. For example, we usually order pizza when my family visits my parents. I try to help pay the bill. My dad usually waves me off and say it is from the slush fund. This is money that they use to bless their family, spoil their grandkids, and buy things like kayaks that they don’t really need, but would like. Their slush fund ebbs and flows, but it is usually there.
Now my own slush fund is gone. I’m upset and embarrassed that I let it happen and didn’t act more quickly. Looking back I see where it went and how I could have prevented it. I could have skipped a few trips, looked for more economical lodging, stayed at home instead of heading to the beach or going out to brunch with the girls. I can’t change the past, but I can change my spending in the future.
How to rebuild your slush fund
Starting on February 1st my family went into a spending lockdown as part of what I like to call “Frugal February.” No more instant gratification for someone who wants take out for dinner (all of us), a new CD (hubby), or to take advantage of that fabulous airfare deal that just popped up (me). We cannot spend any unnecessary money.
Thanks to a tip from Nicole at Arrows Sent Forth, there is now a piece of paper on my fridge where we will track every penny that leaves our account for the rest of the month. Groceries, gas, parking fees for doctor’s appointments, preschool tuition and coffee shop stops will go on the list. I can see all of this activity in our bank account, but by writing it down we hope to make ourselves more aware of what we are spending, what we can cut out and what we didn’t miss.
Looking at the future
All month long I will be brainstorming ways to cut back. We have lived on half, and even a quarter, of what we live off of now. We can scale back and do it again. Travel is important to us. I need my slush fund. This month we will concentrate on rebuilding it. Next month I will start looking for ways to make our trips even cheaper, but not any less fabulous.
We do have two trips on the horizon that were paid for in advance, or are part of my freelance writing business. While on these trips I will be watching our pennies. We may not be able to stop traveling (or want to!) but we can do it more responsibly so the travel slush fund lasts a whole lot longer. This doesn’t mean I will be staying in a hostel anytime soon, but it does mean I may be packing more snacks, skipping my beloved pedicures, and using a few more coupons.
Look for lots of money-saving tips on our Facebook page and one heck of a post coming at the end of the month with tips to build your own slush fund, cut back on unnecessary spending, and an update on how we are doing after a month on our self-imposed spending lockdown. I may not be a rock star, but I do need to figure out how to “afford our rock ‘n’ roll” travel lifestyle a whole lot better so it doesn’t go away completely.
Just in case you never heard the Cake song before, here you go!
WARNING: May not be appropriate for children.