We are moved. We are (mostly) unpacked. We have a new couch. Our new bed frame is set for delivery today. Life is good.
I have spent my entire life living in small towns. The largest of them being Cottonwood, AZ. Corey and I spent our first six months in Arizona living in Cottonwood. The approximate population of that particular area, I believe is in the 60,000 range (give or take a few hundred snowbirds.) Sedona, AZ and Macomb, IL were the next biggest cities I have called home, with around 20,000 people each. Now, compare the size of those three towns to where we live now, boasting 6 million people; that's a lot of people.
Lots of people means lots of commerce. The options for places to spend Fun Dollars is limitless. If I saved up all of my Fun Dollars for a month, I could buy a plane ticket to visit my sister. Why not, when the airport is 15 minutes away? Or I could go to IKEA and redo a room of our new home. After all, it's just across town, just down the street. Or we could go out to eat, but the question is where? Do we want Cuban, Caribbean, or Korean for dinner? OR I could just take the kids to a water park, or an amusement park on the weekend, and spend half my Fun Dollars on carnival rides. Really, the only limit to me spending my Fun Dollars is my own budget. Whatever I can dream up to do, we can go do. It's all here.
With the endless list of possible places to park my cash comes a huge responsibility. I cannot just pass off cooking supper each night and instead go out to eat. I cannot just drive to the Chandler Fashion Center and buy a whole new wardrobe for myself. I cannot just take the kids to Castles and Coasters every weekend. There must be some restraint.
Thank Goodness I have been tracking my Fun Dollars for a year and a half and have now developed the skill and art of spending discernment. I truly believe that this move was properly timed. Had we moved a year ago, yeah I could have handled it, but I still had much to learn about my spending habits. Even if we had moved six months ago, I think I still would have felt the need to make bigger, more exciting purchases, even if it was just for the sake of writing about it here on the Fun Dollars blog. I would have blown through my money way too quickly if we had moved much earlier than what we did.
The past three weeks since we moved, I have been exploring neighborhoods, discovering parks, and investigating places to shop. Instead of just making a purchase automatically, I have instead held back and shopped around for the best deals (for household purchases, not Fun Dollar purchases. We only just "turned on" the Fun Dollars budget again this week.) Shopping around was a luxury not really afforded before. In Cottonwood, there was Wal-Mart, JC Penny, Home Depot, and several local eateries worth frequenting. In Sedona, there was Beall's Outlet, Goodwill, and a Gap Outlet, with several other local places worth checking out for shopping/eating. If we wanted any more options outside of what I just listed, we had to drive 45 minutes to Flagstaff. That's where Marshall's, Target, Old Navy, the Mall, Kohl's, etc. were all located. Since it took a day's worth of commitment to go shopping at these places, I had to have an actual need to drive that far to justify the cost of travel. I would have to feed myself while I was out all day. I would have to have a list long enough to make the trip worth my while, thereby making spending almost a necessity just to get variety.
Here in Phoenix, the variety is all just minutes away. I can drive down the street to Bed, Bath and Beyond to check the price of sheets for our new bed, then walk next door to compare the prices at Marshall's. If I don't like what I see, it's not a big deal, because I haven't wasted an entire day just driving to these places to check on prices. I can turn right around and drive to Target or Ross today, tomorrow, or the next day because they are only seven minutes away. (Which is exactly what I did yesterday.) I am no longer limited by time and distance. They have become my allies.
Before, when we needed to do more extended shopping outside of the Sedona area, we would have to pack snacks, or plan a cheap meal out (usually at Taco Bell.) Now, we have a home right in the middle of everything. We can go shopping in one area, head home for a snack, then go right back out to another part of town. It's no longer a gamble for the kids getting hungry, or me needing a little pick-me-up. I can accomplish much of what I need to do during the hours that Carrick is at school. I can run some laundry, go out shopping, come back home to do dishes, and still have time to relax while Lily naps before picking up Carrick. I don't have to spend a majority of my day in the car driving to accomplish what I need to get done, thereby maximizing the time I spend with one kiddo at home.
I am really looking forward to the next few months of spending my Fun Dollars. It is going to be a whole new adventure! (By the way, did any of you see the new tagline for Fun Dollars? It's now "Adventures in Spending".) I am super-excited to track and observe my spending habits in this new environment. New challenges, new "wants", new stores and eateries all beckon for me to come and be a part of this spending adventure!
Plate of Orange and Teriyaki Chicken at Panda Express- $7.00
Balance this pay cycle- $93.00