We all know I’ve talked about finances here. Like, a lot. The last time I brought it up was in a “new school year goals” post here. Been doing okay with most of that stuff, but finances? Nerp.
For some weird reason beyond my realm of thinking, I can’t figure out why it’s been such a challenge for me. I helped Dave get his finances into at least a reasonable schedule when we were first dating, and he has since grabbed the bull by the horns and whipped his finances into such great shape, I’m so amazed and proud of him. So, the fact that I couldn’t kick-start myself disappoints me. And the more we disappoint ourselves, the more we’re down on ourselves and can’t find the motivation to fix the problem, am I right?
Hmm. Guess I answered my question right there. That’s why I’ve been stuck.
So, anyhoo, I’ve been a complete non-budgeter. If I tried writing down every purchase, it only stuck for, like, a week…tops. Much like dieting, I’m not a great “do it all at once, take all the joy of life away” person. Nope. Don’t work that way. Plus, the whole “write down every single purchase” thing? Not me. At least I know myself, right?
Since we know that doesn’t work, that’s not what we’ve done. Instead, in a strange role reversal that he’s had great joy doing (I felt the same way when I helped him; we like getting each other on track and comfortable rather than overwhelmed! It’s what we do), I printed off my checking transactions for the past couple of months, jotted down what each item was (some were obvious, others not s’much), and handed them over to Dave.
He made note of the main monthly bills that have a set date (mortgage, car, car insurance, washer/dryer payment, etc), the “important” necessities which may have more variable dates/amounts (groceries and gas), then determined what was left and where my moolah was going.
Allowing about $60 a month to be taken out in cash ($30 every paycheck) means that I can buy what I like, no questions asked, makes it feel a little less bare-bones and a little roomier. We also figure we’ll each pay for a meal out once a month. I requested this mostly because cooking, day in and day out, can be a pain, so it’s nice to be treated — even if just to a pizza — now and then. Not weekly. Not daily. But occasionally.
I’m also going to start taking out $200 every two weeks specifically for groceries and see how we do. This is the hardest part, for sure. Budgeting my food spending is the biggest, most stressful area because I know what we eat and we’ve pretty much pared it down to getting just what we need…which comes in nowhere near $100 a week. But, I hope to get creative, use what we have in our freezer/cupboards and hopefully will be able to stretch it. Aldi will also help tremendously with this.
So, other than that, we’re putting an allotted amount into my savings (which has depleted) and my Christmas club (‘cuz it’d be nice not to have a tough time getting through the holiday seasons this year). While I’m not going to be religiously checking my checking (ha!) everyday like Dave does, I’ll be doing it ever couple of days and looking at the “calendar” to determine what’s coming out and when. Oh, and I’m filling out a form to take to my bank to change the date of my car payment so that my two big payments are spread throughout the month more.
Exciting stuff today, folks. Ex-citing, I tell ya. But, it’s nice to at least get my $%&@ together enough that I know where every cent goes — and where it’s allowed to go.
So, what about you guys? How do you budget? Do you write every expense and check the math? Or are you a bare minimum type like me?