My Family Is Going on a Fiscal Fast

There’s no question. Money has been draining from my carefully constructed budget at a rate that is making my fictional accountant wring his hands and wipe sweat from his brow. It started off innocently enough when the kids and I went on vacation last summer. A last minute, unbudgeted decision to check all our bags here, an expensive souvenir necklace there, a few extra dinners out instead of cooking in our rented studio, and the carefully planned vacation budget went the direction of fiscally foul.

We came home and tried to jump back into our budgetary diet. But like any diet, once we’d had a taste of high caloric sweets, getting back to the alternative proved nearly impossible. We were vacation gluttons, racking up two trips to Disneyland with the excuse that we needed to use our Annual Passes before they expired and trips to Monterey where we dined in expensive restaurants and spent the late afternoons shopping. Before long, eating out became a three time a week event and we stopped going to matinees and began paying full price for movie tickets. Birthday parties, school fundraisers, home shopping parties, Halloween candy and costumes, Christmas gifts, and new cozy throws turned the trickle of money leaving my budget into a flow until that fictional accountant of mine threw up his arms and shouted, “Enough!”

When the dust cleared, I looked around at the pile of credit card bills and cluttered house. Where once I’d been able to easily fit my glasses in their appropriate cupboard, a great deal on wine glasses had me re-washing some of my stemware for the mere reason that all of my clean glasses no longer fit in the cupboard at once. The kids’ previously organized shelves overflowed and their closet door wouldn’t close on the pile of tulle and jewels of the dress up clothes. My own closet was filled with clothing I hadn’t touched in over a year while new clothes mocked me with their price tags.

In short, my budget is blown and my house is a mess.

I had that same gluttonous feeling one gets following a holiday weekend which made me decide it was time to fast, fiscally speaking. With a sigh of relief, my fictional accountant gave me until January 1 to look through my accounts and re-work my budget.

For 90 days, I won’t spend money for anything beyond the basic necessities. And no, contrary to my children’s opinions, collecting all the newest Lego mini figures is not a necessity. As I declutter, organize, and save money, I’m looking forward to 2015 bringing me fiscal Zen.

Photo: Getty