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?