Setting up a Budget Part One: Getting Started


Lately, I am all about living intentionally. A few years ago I had fallen in a rut of work, dinner, tv during the week, and going with the flow on the weekends. This was not working for me in so many ways. Practically, I was always unprepared for everything. No water bottles at the soccer game, nothing to bring for lunch, so I was spending extra money at work, a messy house when people stopped by. Personally, I was wasting so much time on things that didn’t really matter to me. I actually spent time channel surfing and settling on shows I didn’t really care about, and in that same time frame, I didn’t do crafts or writing because I was convinced I just didn’t have time for that. Professionally, I was finding that I wasn’t as organized or proactive as I used to be, which is disastrous for a project manager. My life was a mess.

Over the last year or so, I have been trying to change all that. The first thing I did was go to the doctor to get a prescription for my Attention Deficit issues. The problems I was having with completing tasks or organizing my life were beyond normal, and I could remember having them all my life. I actually had a wide range of coping skills that helped some, but not all the way. I could master one or two areas of my life for a while, but when I would try to add something else, one of the original balls would fall. See the brilliant chart at the beginning of this Hyerbole and a Half post (heck, read the whole thing! It’s all brilliant!) for a completely accurate portrayal of the first 20 or so years of my adulthood. It is a really funny story (at least in Allie’s hands), but an exhausting way to live life. Other people manage to do things. So, I went off to the doctor, and she totally agreed that medication might help me. I was excited, my life would be in order!

That night, I broke my hand, :(.

No matter, after surgery and physical therapy, I got on board with my life organizing path. I started menu planning. I do laundry regularly now. I started recording the TV shows that I wanted to watch. If I skipped over them too many times when choosing what to watch, I erased them. Now that I don’t watch as much tv, I am much more picky about what I watch. I am caught up on most tasks at work. I crochet. I am able to take the kids to special events they are interested in, or do other fun things with them. I started writing for Gaming Angels. Life still isn’t perfect, but it is more manageable. I do more of the things that I want to do, the things that are important to me.

Now that I am starting to feel that I have some basic organization under control, I am feeling the need to do something about my finances. They are not in terrible shape–I am contributing to my 401K to get the company match, I don’t carry credit card debt–but they are not in good shape exactly, either. My savings account is so anemic I almost might not even bother to keep it. I am constantly coming to the end of my fiscal month with barely enough money to limp along to the next paycheck. Then, when I get paid, I have built up shopping needs, so I go out and spend just a bit too much money.

This is ridiculous, because I make pretty good money. Not wealthy money, but more than enough to get by, save some money and have a few extras. It is true that my mortgage payment is high, but there is no doubt in my mind that my paycheck-to-paycheck living is solely due to the fact that I am just not paying attention to where my money goes. I am coasting along, not doing what I want to do with my money because I am not being intentional. I am committing now to working up a real budget. I wrote out all of my recurring bills, and I am looking at what I can do to reduce those. I don’t think we actually need 400 Uverse channels for instance, and it is past time to cancel the Consumer Reports account I got when I was researching a car purchase nearly three years ago. There are a few other changes I can make, too.

Once I am done with that, I am going to work on setting up a monthly amount to budget for other categories, like groceries, eating out/going out with friends, kids allowance, books, household items, gas, and whatever else we need to get. I want to start saving as much as possible. My first goal will be a much bigger emergency fund. I also want to start a vacation fund, so that we can go on a vacation that doesn’t necessarily involve camping. Not that we are going to stop camping; I just want to do something else, too.

This will be a work in progress, but I feel better about at least starting to focus on this. All of my organization up to this point has put me in a position to be more successful here, too. I have good habits for bringing my lunch to work, and cooking at home, for instance. I am building on what I already have done to make my life even more what I want it to be.

2 responses »

    • Well, I am mostly just thinking about the budget at this point. And, actually, setting up a budget is not that much of a problem for me. Following it, on the other hand….

      I love HAAH too. Such a funny site! But that particular one is so eerily true for me, it’s what I call painfully funny, 😉 .

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