I feel like this poor piggy bank lately. I feel like AJ and I have fallen off the wagon in regards to our finances, and that we are getting swallowed up by all kinds of things. I wish that there was one thing that I could point to to blame all this on, but there isn't other than just plain life and want. Even with a budget we have been slacking in controlling our money. Thus it really does feel like we are being controlled by our money.
I know that I am the largest part of this problem, I am having problems with the WANT disease. I will admit it isn't a want for large ticket or expensive things, it is a want problem of things that I normally deny myself - clothing, accessories, and personal nice things (girly smelling body soaps and ladies shaving cream). I have bought more clothes, more pretty shoes/ sandals, and more purses/ tote bags in the last couple of months that I have bought for me in the last two years. I will say that most of these things have either been on major clearance, sale, or from thrift stores or ebay. I think there have been maybe three things I paid full price for, but even those were around $15-20. I did hit a sale at Bath and Body Works and bought stuff when it was buy 1 get 2 free, but they also sent me a coupon for $10 off any purchase over $30 (it helped make the purchase even cheaper).
Another problem that has gotten us off track is traveling. We spent the last four weekends traveling. It has been great, but at the same time it has really hurt our budget. We had saved up the money to be able to travel, so it wasn't a scramble to pay for any of it, but it did cause a shift in course of action. The traveling has also lead to more eating out (which I didn't account for) on the days leading up to the going out of town and the days following it. I forgot to take into account how tired traveling makes me, and that grocery shopping and cooking aren't something I really want to do afterwards.
Food is another problem in our house! The more I learn about food the more difficult it makes it to go grocery shopping. We try not to buy any or very little pre-packaged/ processed food. I know that makes it sound like it should cost less not doing that but right now it isn't. Namely because what packaged food we are buying it more expensive because it is either organic or specialized. I find it frustrating that foods with fewer chemicals are more expensive!
I think the final money eater lately is our continuing desire to work on the house. We have so many things that we still want to do and most of them cost money. We are always on the look out for things that will work in the way we want them to, and so when we find something we generally buy it. Even though it is normally a sale item (or as-is from IKEA) or from a thrift store it is still an outgo of money.
I want to get us back on track. It really frustrates me that a year and a half ago we were totally debt free, and now we are not. We now have the house and a car payment. The house payment I am sort of ok with, because otherwise at this point we would be paying rent, and the house makes me so much happier than living in any apartment. The car payment frustrates me greatly. We didn't want to have to do it, but my poor old Saturn didn't leave us with much choice last year when it decided to kill the transmission. Yes, we could have bought a cheaper car (we got a three year old Toyota Corolla), but we wanted something that I could drive for another 10 years without any major issues and because my car is our traveling car. We also knew that sometime soon we are going to have to replace AJ's car, and using all of our cash for one or other would leave us with payments some how.
We also got hit by some major medical bills this year, or rather we got hit by them in the first quarter of the year instead of slowly having them over the course of the year. I am thankful to have the HSA we have because that has really helped, but having one bill be the total of our deductible for the year was a hard hit.
I know that I need to go back to step 1 and get back on a plan. I am trying to do that! I know that I am trying to attack to many things in our lives to really make traction on anything. When I look at our budget that hits me in the face every time. It is the same way we are handling projects in our house. We have too many things going on to be able to complete anything. Even though I know this is a problem I am not sure how to fix it. Yes, theoretically I could stop dividing our savings into different categories, but having multiple SINK accounts makes it easier when things need to be paid like the HOA bill.
My plan is to spend the rest of June getting ready for July. I am going back and reading The Complete Tightwad Gazette, The Millionaire Next Door, The Total Money Makeover, Financial Peace Revisited, and probably Sink Reflections. I need to get my barrings and discipline back. I need to re-spark my intensity that was there to get us out of debt in the first place. I know this is a possible goal, and I know AJ and I can do it without taking all the extra jobs we did last time. We just need to be more creative and focused. We have more resources than we did, but we need to use them.
I know I need to do more bulk cooking so that we always have something healthy to eat in the freezers. I know I need to revisit my frugal websites and sites that show how to make real food on a budget. I know I need to start shopping around at different stores again. I know that if we are going to pay to have the newspaper delivered I need to cut the coupons for things that we use. I know that we need to rebuild our clothes line so that I can use it instead of the dryer. I know that I need to remake our envelopes and use them correctly. I know that I need to stay out of stores unless it is a specific shopping day. I know that we need to sell some of the stuff that is sitting in the garage waiting to go on craigslist.
Therefore, these are on my plan. I know what I want for our life, and I am going to re-institute the discipline to get there! It might sound crazy, but I am going to squeeze every penny until it screams, and every nickle will have a name and know where it belongs! Next year at this time, our piggy bank will not be broken and I will have a better sense of control and peace!
Thus, I am starting our planning over, and we are jumping back on to the wagon!
Blake: There is only one thing worse than being young & deeply in debt:
being old & deeply in debt. Generation Y - Start a plan today!
The theme of this year for me is all about journeys and have a real plan for my life.