Budget Wrestling

Budget is a four letter word in my psyche. I hate budgets. I hate them because I fail them every single time. The only budget I appeared to have had a mediocum of success with so far has been the DON’T YOU DARE BUY A THING budget. And even that one I passed with a C+. I’ve tried so many different types, strategies, methods, etc. that I’m just nauseated beyond belief. I’ve tried super strict perfectly defined budgets. I’ve tried looser methods where I had this much for these things and that much for “everything else”. I’ve tried no budgets. The point is each month I’m nervous about how much money I have, what I can buy, what I can’t, etc. I try and plan but it’s a big failure too– how did I forget two friends’ birthdays were this month and my car’s registration was due? I knew these things were happening but I forgot to budget them.

Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m not a disaster. I don’t use credit to supplement my spending. Well, not outside my $165 ING overdraft line of credit which penalizes me with super low interest, not transaction fees (I ❤ ING). I am steadily paying my debt down with the debt snowball method. I have a 401k (which should kick back up again next month, yay). But I just can’t seem to get to a comfortable spot with money.

And I should. Between my job’s income and the child support payments I receive, I am on the way to the average annual household income that “gives you the most joy for your buck.” To reach the cap, I need to increase my income by about 20%. And maybe that’s why I feel like I’m close to getting my money the way I want it but it’s not there just yet. Maybe I have about 80% of it under control.

My biggest frustration is that it feels as if there is just no steadiness in my expenses. Ok, that’s not true– there is a portion of my expenses that are steady. It’s the same amount every month, give or take a couple bucks. Those are my sane expenses and are hardly a cause for alarm. It’s the other stuff though that I struggle with. It’s groceries, clothing, gas, doctors, medicines, diapers, field trips, after school activities, registration fees, supplies, oil changes, birthdays, holidays, car repairs, and so on and so forth.

In a way, this is all my own doing. Given how long it’s been that I decided to wake up and wrestle with my finances, I should have a clear picture of my life with three kids and what it entails financially. But, I’ve been pretty scattered about tracking my spending. Have I pounded this into your head dear readers? Are you learning how tracking your spending is probably the single most important step in healthy fiscal living?

Anyways, I’m on my way now to see if I can make some sense of my Mint mess and my Excel method and smash together about one year’s worth of expenses give or take. And then, I think I’m going to see if I can’t figure out some sort of budget or SOMETHING. For a Friday, I’m quite cranky.

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