Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Budget Woes

I'm starting to feel like a broken record.  I already feel like a complete failure.  And I'm REALLY starting to get so very discouraged.  I cannot seem to get this whole budget thing figured out.  I mean, I have a budget.  I just can't seem to stay within my budget each month.  I'm learning as I go and sometimes learning comes with some painful mistakes along the way.  I get that.  I also recognize that alot of the success or failure of my budget adherence is totally within my control.  If only I felt like I had any control and we might be getting somewhere. 

Before this month, I would start out at the beginning of each month with a renewed vigor for sticking to my budget.  I would always start out with the "This month is my month" attitude.  I was ready to tackle that budget monster once and for all and show it who was boss.  I would dutifully keep all my receipts in a handy and neat (okay, maybe not entirely neat) fashion and I would record them into my budget at the end of the month.  And then I would cry.  Sometimes that ugly "can't catch your breath" type sobbing.  Yeah, it wasn't a pretty sight.  It never failed that I was shocked at how miserably I had done that month.  At the end of last year, I analyzed my process a little bit and realized that I was lacking any sort of record keeping throughout the month.  I mean, if in the middle of the month I was already over my budget or getting close to being over my budget in some areas, then that would be an indicator that I needed to reign it in a bit.  As much as I hated to admit it, I needed to become more intimate with my budget.  We needed to have regular dates.  At least twice a month.  So, I instituted that this month.  And it didn't go so well.  Let's just say that if it had been a blind date, I would have texted my best friend and asked her to come up with some bogus emergency so that I could run away and never look back.  It is that bad.  It's only the middle of the month and I'm already painfully over my budet in some areas or the forecasting isn't looking so pretty. 

With almost two full weeks left in the month, here's how some areas of my budget look currently:

Gas (the kind that feeds your car): I'm already over budget ($250 for the month) by $21.17.  And I fill up at least weekly just to get back and forth to work, school, and home.  Not good.

Gas (the kind that heats your house): I have a budget of $50/month for gas.  This amount worked perfectly in the summer when my gas bills were consistently under $50 (and coincidentally, it was summer when I created my budget).  I recently went on the budget billing plan because I noticed that my gas bill was steadily increasing each month.  I was floored when the utilities rep told me that my budget amount is $98.00/month.  That's almost double my budget!  I asked her why it was so much and she read off my winter bills for last year.  Apparently, they were so high last winter that I blocked it out of my memory with the highest one being right under $300.  Yeah, that would have given me a heart attack this winter.  So, now I've got to figure out how to double my budget for that area.

Eating Out: I'm already over my budget ($50) by $57.09.  Part of this I attribute to the fact that we were out of town last weekend.  I managed to make meals at the house that we were at all weekend but didn't account very well for the meals that we would have to eat while traveling.  Another reason is because it was Tyler's father's birthday yesterday and we all went out to dinner last night.  My treat. Still, it's within my control and I've let it get out of hand.  Ugh. 

. . .and those are just the areas that have their own categories on my budget.  There's a whole host of entries from the "here and there" shopping that I've done over the month.  I have found alot of great deals on clothes and shoes for Tyler this month so I've snapped them up.  It's going to save me money in the long run but it's certainly not helping me get out of debt now.  In my defense to some of this extra spending is that to try to avoid overbuying clothes for future seasons for Tyler, I did make a list of what I have already and what I think I'll need (not want, but need) and I've done fairly well at sticking to that list.  If I find a cute shirt on clearance, it doesn't matter if it's only $2.50.  That's money that I shouldn't spend just because it's on sale if he doesn't need it.  But I digress, the extra spending this month, regardless of how good a deal it might be, isn't helping to get me out of credit card debt.  Which seems to be piling on and on.  AARRGGH! 

Why can't I just figure out a way to be independently wealthy so I don't have to worry so much about the little wrenches that get thrown into my budget?  How do you do it. . .how do you handle the wrenches or just sticking to a budget to begin with? 


  1. Hey Aryn! I just came across your blog and I'm a new follower. So, I totally understand your budget/debt/money frustration. A few years ago my husband and I found ourself in a mess financially. We ended up with several debts - credit card, school loans, cars - and wondering why we couldn't make ends meet. We knew we needed to get out of the mess and didn't know what to do. We came across a website - and it changed our lives - I promise this is not a weird advertisement for this guy, and you may have already heard of him but honestly, his website and book helped us so much.
    He basically uses baby steps to get out of debt - baby step one - building a savings of $1,000. Baby Step two - getting rid of your smallest debt - and so on. Once you have one debt paid off, you snowball that payment into the next. This totally worked for us - we put every extra penny into paying off debt. It was so hard but soooooo worth it.
    He also has a rule that you don't use credit cards - ever. We haven't used a credit card in 3 years. We are cash only people. So our budget goes like this - We have a bills budget and a weekly budget. We average high on all of our bills - like gas (then the extra not spent will go towards debt). We use the cash envelope system for our weekly budget - ours being broken down into: Food, Gas, Extra, Fun. We put the allocated cash in the envelope each week and only spend that cash. Any leftover at the end of the week goes towards debt or savings - whatever you are working on. This method has worked wonders for us bc we can see just exactly what we have to spend so when I walk into a store I know I can't overspend. Anyway, I know this is a lot but I want to say don't get discouraged - you can get out of debt and figure out your budget. Just stick with it, take baby steps and good luck! Take Care!

    1. Thanks, Remodeled Life! I have heard of Dave Ramsey before and have actually been stalking his books at the library. Still waiting for them to get returned as they seem to be a really hot item! I've had several friends who have been very successful with following his plan so I'm going to at least look into it. I appreciate the referral and the support. Oh yeah, and for following my little bloggie baby here! I love yours and am a new follower, too! :-)

  2. Jesse handles our budget, but I still have to follow it. It helps to have 2 incomes, but it is still hard to do. We spend $50 a week in groceries (no wiggle room)and $100 a month on fun (like going out to dinner) when we run out we runt out and that's it. We'll eat Ramen at home on a Saturday night if the money is gone. You have to approach the budget like a do or die iron curtain. Even if those clothes are on sale and will save money in the long run, if you don't have it in the present then too bad.

    Good luck! It sucks!

    1. You're right, Ashley. . .I fear that I'm going to have to start approaching my budget that way and seeing if it makes a difference in my spending. I recognize that I probably need to relook at my budget if I'm consistently going over in areas that I really can't control that much (like utilities or gas for the car--gotta at least get back and forth to work and school!) but there's just SO LITTLE (read: none) wiggle room in my budget since I'm only on one income. And it's stretched as it is. So, I guess in those areas that I can control (like eating out or buying clothes), I just flat out have to buckle down and "make it work".

  3. This is something that i struggle with every month we are the worlds worst for not saving enoughif we have it extra we spend it :( I used to pretend we didn't.have money and we were saving like crazy now I may as well flush 10 down the toilet a day I just spend too much on tea from.our favorote drive thru and the dollar aisle at target. Ugh. Maybe we should do a bloggerco budget challenge for Feb?!

  4. the.mrs. you are a GENIUS!!!! Maybe we should do that! A Blogger Budget challenge! Let me noodle (i.e. think) on it a bit and I'll post some details. Those bloggers that want to join can do so and post it on their blogs as well. Hmm. . .let's get the creative juices flowing, ladies! :-)


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