I wrote up a budget last night – something I have been avoiding doing for years, only to see the glaringly obvious reality of why our debt (not counting mortgage) is not really dwindling. Add in our plate renewals, unpaid parking tickets and a couple other overdue bills and the numbers didn’t add up. I made a colour-coordinated spreadsheet (because when the stress of negative numbers gets me wound up, highlighting specific expenses specific colours seems to help) and then handed the computer over to Steve who wiggled them all around and somehow made it work.
It’s not just the making of the budget that intimidates me, but the following of the budget. I don’t buy any big things, but it’s become glaringly obvious that I am the one overspending. We didn’t make a lot of cuts, because I really don’t want to set ourselves up for failure – plus I don’t know what else to cut. Our cells are in contract, we don’t have cable (NetFlix, baby), and Steve brings bagged lunches most days. It doesn’t help that he drives 45 minutes each way to work five times a week or that my school is 35 minutes away, but aside from up and moving, there’s nothing to be done about that.
I’m thinking of going old school envelope style, to train myself for the first few months. I *never* have cash on me, so getting in the habit of bringing gas/grocery money along with me will be the biggest change. I think it will keep me more accountable, though. And spending money. I’ve already decided I’ll withdraw my monthly amount and only use cash. The one downside about our “play” money is that it also will be used to pay for kids clothes/shoes. I’m the one who buys that stuff (as opposed to Steve), so I told him he’s going to have to chip in from now on. He’s more frugal than I am (in regards to clothes for the kids, anyway) so even though I feel like I’m required to get “approval” before I buy things, it will also keep me on track.
How do you manage your money? Do you use cash? How do you stay on track? I’m a little overwhelmed by the fact that it’s going to take us most likely, over a year to pay off the credit card and I need encouragement!