Tuesday, January 19, 2010

“It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it.”

Budgeting must rank amongst my top 3 least favorite things in the world. I dislike it SO MUCH, in fact, that it may actually take all THREE spots, all by itself. I loathe it.

Part of it, I'm sure, comes from the fact that I just despise not having as MUCH money as I used to. It irritates me.

I grew up with parents who had no concept of budgets. At all. If payday was a Friday, we'd be eating steak on Saturday, and down to pancakes (homemade) with no syrup by Thursday. My mom couldn't cook, so. That should tell you how appealing that was.

At some point, we were swimming in cash. We bought what we wanted, went on trips where we wanted, and it was super fun. Seriously, like... super fun.

And I realized one day, that, y'know, I could cut back my "Coach bag of the month" frenzy, and maybe build an emergency fund.

So I consulted some people much smarter and FAR more disciplined than I, and started making some plans. It turned out to be a good thing I did, because a few months later I threw a tantrum at my job and walked.the.hell.out. (note, I do not suggest doing this.)

Fortunately, I had managed to sock away about three months of living expenses. Unfortunately, it took me six months to find a job. A job that was out of state, btw. And, awesome. So in the end, it worked out.

Even my handbag-habit helped out in the end... I re-sold some of my bags to pay bills. This little beauty? She made me a mortgage payment.
Anyway. It's been an adjustment going back to having to watch what I spend. It's annoying. I know there are some people out there who ENJOY this type of thing. I'm certainly NOT one of them.

The last 6 months or so have been rough. I moved the fam cross country, The H was unemployed for three months, catching up on things once he GOT employed. It's been tight. And, pretty tragic.

But, and here's the Awesome, the last 4 weeks, I've at LEAST made the week come in under budget!

I've done a few things to really get this under control lately.
1. Cut cable. It's been about 2 1/2 weeks now, and all is well. Somehow, we have pulled through so far. I'm pretty sure, any day now, #3 will stop asking for "Her Noggin". Sorry, Ni Hao, but you had to go.
2. Library Cards - we can literally hit up the local Barnes and Noble or Borders every weekend. Additionally, 1 & 2 each have book reports every 4 weeks. Oh, and, #1 has a research paper on monsoons (she picked it. She's weird that way.), and needs some books as reference.
3. I'm eating at home and packing lunches. I know this *sounds* pretty much like common sense, but... honestly. I'm a working mom with three kids. There were plenty of nights and lunches where it was just easier to pick up something. This way is easier, healthier, AND I feel better about what my kids are inhaling :)
4. I just stopped buying STUFF. Yep. Just stopped buying stuff. I make my game plan, pick up those things, and get my heiny out of there before I lose my mind.
5. Paying bills first. I know, stupid that this even has to be a consideration. I've been making payments, withdrawing "X" amount of cash, and leaving the debit card at home. And that cash... that's it until the next pay day, end of story.
6. Starbucks. Sigh. My beloved Starbucks has become a once-a-week treat. And, even that day I sometimes cut out if the line is too long. I was assisted by Starbucks cutting the super awesome Caramel Brulee Latte. Punks.
7. Selling some extra STUFF. I listed some stuff that I was decluttering on Craigslist, like my Garmin Forerunner, and a KitchenAid that I bought 2 years ago and used once. I didn't make much, but I did make some, and cleared out some extra space.

This frugalness is also paying off in other ways. I'm eating healthier again, and because I'm shopping sales, a lot of our produce is local and in season. I'm pretty stoked about that. I'm getting more creative with our meal planning again, which I think is fun. I'm learning new recipes to use what we have on hand, instead of making a trip to the store to pick up a "few" things (which invariably turns into 5 bags of junk). Or, even worse, just packing it in and going out. In the last week, I've mastered a Sloppy Joes recipe, as well as one for Bourbon Chicken... both were pretty awesome, and someday when I'm not busy panicking because I don't know if anyone will eat this, I'll share those.

In ADDITION to silly things, like having electricity and water, there are other benefits.... like the eating better has inspired me to hit the gym with at least some regularity. The kids are reading more. As a whole, we are interacting more as a family than we did before when we had cable. Oh, AND! I got to re-watch the Alias DVD's I have. Heart Vaughn!
Don't get me wrong, I'm still really not digging this "frugalness" yet. I'd REALLY like to be able to go out and replace the fucktons of MAC I just ran out of... alas, it is being "worked into" the budget, and will happen over the next few weeks. And these are SMALL victories... like, when I say "under budget", I mean my bills are paid and I have $5 left in my account. But... I told someone the other day, the small victories eventually add up to the BIG victories, so don't overlook them. My $5 might be teeny compared to what you've got, but. It's $5 more than I had 2 months ago, so I'm pretty stoked.


Fataliya said...

Heather! I :wub: you! I SO need to budget,and yet....I haven't done it yet. I might go back to that mint.com website and maybe sign up. *sigh* I dunno. Bleh. I HATE not having a savings.

BTW, I'm jealous that you even HAD that Louis! I LOVE that bag!

Snork Maiden said...

Mint.com? What is mean Mint.com? Budgets are awesome. Next time I get a real job, I will definately start one. Sigh. Congrats on the whole cable thing!!

Anonymous said...

Dont forget to budget my spring break week of awesome!


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