I have a budget that I look at and tweak constantly. I track every dime I spend with my debit card on Mint.com and I try my best to track every cash dollar I spend on there as well. So, why is it ever since my company switched to a bi-weekly payroll system, I’m having an extremely difficult time staying afloat financially? And now with a looming cut in child support payments and taking on new financial responsibilities how on Earth am I supposed to survive?
It seems that there are two issues I face and one can’t really be resolved without first resolving the other. I have a problem with spending. Now, it’s not a huge ugly monster of a problem. The majority of the credit card debt I have was accumulated over a year ago before my separation, not after as usually happens. I make very few purchases with credit cards and do so seldomly. I’m not behind on any of my bills. My problem is with the leftover money, the money I’m supposed to use for those hard to nail down expenses like groceries, gas, clothing, restaurants, and other such things.
I’ve tried a few different systems to get this together but can’t seem to really nail it down. One of the most touted methods is, for instance, the envelope system. The envelope system and I can’t seem to click. For one, I have a really hard time tracking my spending this way. But the other problem is that I burn through cash too easily. It flies through my fingers! And then, when I’ve burned through all of the cash in my envelopes and my gas tank is on Empty, I pull out the debit card and draw on the overdraft line of credit to pull out enough cash to fuel me until the next payday. Thankfully, my Electric Orange checking account with ING has very low rates on the line of credit and the line of credit itself is tiny so my fees for using it never amount to more than a dollar for a month.
Today, I spent a couple of hours re-examining my financial system and brainstorming ideas on how I can make this work. It seems that adjusting my bi-weekly salary to monthly amounts and then budgeting off that has wreaked havoc on me. It just allows too much wiggle room for compulsive spending. So, instead of continuing with that system, I’ve gone ahead and scrapped it and am moving forward with a monthly budgeting system that works with what my actual income will be that month versus what it would come out to monthly if I was saving chunks of my paychecks the proper way. What this means is most of the time, I will have lean but doable months. And then twice a year I get an extra paycheck except I can’t just go ahead and throw the whole thing somewhere (aka savings, debt, etc.) because there are bills with due dates.
I thought about spending some time now and trying to budget ahead for July but every time I’ve done this in the past, it’s turned out to be a complete time-waster. So, this time I’m going to wait until June is coming to close before I address the situation. So basically the first way I’m addressing compulsive spending (again) is attempting to draw up a budget that works (again). Now, for the rest of it I’m sort of stumped. I absolutely love tracking my spending on Mint. However, this makes it hard for me to really grasp how much money I actually have left from the particular pay cycle I’m on for a particular category. I don’t know why but seeing it on the monitor doesn’t make it click in reality for me. On the other hand, I’m fearful of having cash on hand. First of all, I have a harder time tracking spending. Second of all, I usually go through it too quickly. I’m inclined to go ahead and try moving to cash only and leaving my debit card at home. I think this will help me further understand what I’ve got is what I’ve got. If I don’t have the debit card on me I might also become more fearful of spending too much too quickly.
Thoughts? Personal experiences with this tricky little monster? This has been especially frustrating because I don’t feel completely overwhelmed by this. As a matter of fact I feel like the resolution to getting all of this under control is right there floating just inches above my grasp and that’s what drives me crazy.