I just finished a load of dishes. Or rather, the last half of a load of dishes I started last night.
I hate dishes.
Joe is all about washing dishes right after using them, but I’m not about that life.
I attribute it to living alone for 3 years, during which, I didn’t give two whats (and nobody else did either) whether or not I did my dishes right away. It’s hard to break that pattern.
You know what else is hard when you live alone?
Sticking to a budget.
I see the word “accountability” in social media a lot these days. Usually related to aspiring fitness addicts, dieters, etc. who need someone else to know what they’re attempting to do, so they’ll feel guilted into doing it or shamed for not doing it.
That kind of accountability is less sexy. If I wanted to feel guilty, I’d just scroll through old emails I forgot to reply to.
However, since Joe moved in and we’ve devised a very specific budget for each of us, it is much easier to stay on track. Each night, we keep each other accountable by going through anything we spent money on that day. Usually it’s just a couple bucks on coffee, but then other times there are gas receipts and groceries we needed. I’ve also been making meal plans each Wednesday on our day off together, and that helps us avoid random lunch expenses or treats on the way home.
Yesterday I got groceries before I picked him up from work, which helped me say NO to his persistent requests for storm chips… we also already had a bag of chips in the apartment that he had snuck in a few days before. In his opinion, we didn’t buy them FOR the storm, so they weren’t true storm chips. I said they were chips, and that we’d eat them during the storm. Therefore, storm chips. He pleaded to the customer he was serving to back him up, but the poor fella put his hands up and stayed quiet. Smart man.
(I won. In case you’re curious).
That being said, I bought cubed beef to cook and have for a few lunches, which is not something Joe is going to eat. I justified it by explaining that:
- As a woman, I need more iron than he does.
- My iron last time I donated blood was borderline low.
- I’m scheduled to give blood again at the end of March and I need to replenish my stores.
- I’m not vegetarian.
Before living with Joe, my only reason for buying anything was “I want it.” Not that I was a shopaholic (honestly, those Sophie Kinsella books make me incredibly anxious…I can’t read them anymore), in fact I rarely bought anything impractical. But that’s also how I justified spending money when I did. “You deserve it!”
It probably sounds not fun at all, having to report every cent you spent to your partner every night, but it has been really helpful. And because it’s helping us pay down our soul-crushing debts, save for our trip, and save for future big, adult-y purchases… it’s pretty exciting to be able to report spending ZERO dollars at the end of the day.
In terms of personal accountability and tracking of expenses, we have a shared Excel file that is labeled “SAVE ALL THE SHIT” on the desktop. Our budget, with projected expenditures and estimated income (it varies for both of us) is there, and each night we plug in what we spent in the right category.
I also have a free app on my phone called “Daily Budget” where I have my budget, savings goals and daily expenditures/random income. It keeps a running tab of my “allowance” for the day, depending on what I have left over from the day before. So the less I spend, the more my allowance is the next day, and if I can keep carrying over the allowance rather than spending it, I have a huge chunk saved at the end of the month.
It’s quite motivating… I also like pretty visuals.
Joe doesn’t seem to require any such motivation, other than to say “I’m going to try to spend less than a dollar today!” That seems to be enough for him. Other than that, I just need to be able to talk him out of chips and pizza, by always having an idea or game plan for dinner.
It’s a bit like a hostage negotiation. Except instead of a gun to someone’s head, I’m talking him down from a hypothetical pizza slice aimed at his mouth.
So, a bit less stressful.
What are your methods of keeping yourself or your family accountable?