March 17, 2011

It All Started with a Spreadsheet...

How did I fall into the world of frugal living, or - as I clearly prefer - cheapskatery? I wonder myself sometimes.

It all started with a spreadsheet. It could have been on Excel, since back then I didn't yet know about the free-tasticness that is open source software.

This particular spreadsheet, the first one, was created to figure out how on earth we were going to be able to afford butter on maternity leave benefits. You see, by the time we realized that it might be a good idea to know how much money we had coming in and how it was going back out again, Mr and I had been married for almost eight years. Miss was due in a few months, and I had been working at the bank for more than three years.

Stop laughing.

No really, prior to this spreadsheet, we had only the vaguest idea if what we were spending correlated with what we were earning.  We were guessing.

As it turned out, life on maternity leave could include butter. With that pressing question answered, we could have easily gone on our merry way...but that spreadsheet was fun.

I couldn't get enough of how the numbers changed - especially the bit marked savings - when I moved money out of the spending categories. When we downgraded our satellite plan, when we changed internet service providers, when we implemented a grocery budget, the little numbers moved. It was like a video game, and it was addictive

The goal these days is not so much the savings category, what with two kids and the prospect of going back to work just to pay for daycare. The necessities category is pretty much gobbling up all the moving numbers, but it's still fun to see them move.
For me, at least. Mr, it seems, is happy so long as there's butter on the table.