Without divulging too much of my personal information, I’ve decided to start hammering down on my ability to budget.
I live quite comfortably, have great credit, etc etc, but suddenly moving from a 2-income household to a 1-income household was a bit of a shock to my pocketbook over the past 10 months and I’ve decided I’m no longer going to use the 1-income household as a crutch, but will accept it and do whatever I can to be fully independent.
In order to do so, I’ve set 2 goals for myself, both of which I hope to accomplish over the next 9-12 months:
- Pay off all outstanding debt
- Be able to buy a condo/house
This doesn’t mean I actually will be buying a place, but I want to be in a position where I can. I’ve been a homeowner since I was 22, so to move to renting at 29/30 is a really unsettling feeling. I feel like where I live isn’t mine and I’d love to feel more comfortable where I am and where I live.
In order to accomplish these two goals, I’ve started using Wave.
Wave is an online based free (free!) software that tracks all spending in my bank accounts and credit card. I can also set up budgets, so I’ll be alerted if my spending in a certain area exceeds (or is nearing) my budget.
For whatever reason, my family never really taught me much about budgeting and it’s not really taught in school (and I’m an accountant, yes, I see the irony) so I did some Googling to determine the optimum ranges for spending, saving, etc. Based upon my budget, I’m well within these ranges. Yay!
- Housing – 35% of take home pay
- Vehicle – 15% of take home pay
- Life – 25% of take home pay (includes groceries, clothing, etc)
- Debt – 15% of take home pay
- Savings – 10% of take home pay
I analyzed my spending over the summer and determined the number one area where I tend to overspend is food. Not really even eating out, just food/grocery spending, and I certainly don’t need to. This is an area I need to work on balancing my needs and my wants. For example, I don’t need the $6 cheese, but I sure as heck want the $6 cheese 🙂 Sorry taste buds, no more $6 cheese for you (unless someone wants to bring/send me $6 cheese!).
In addition to my monthly budget, I’ve also done a month by month budget for myself starting mid-September through to the end of April. Based upon this (and assuming everything goes as planned!) I will be debt free by the end of April. I really want this for myself – I’ve even considering completely cancelling my cable package in order to save more money (but then I think of the Olympics and don’t want to) since I have Netflix and will keep my internet connection.
I’m also crossing my fingers I’m able to increase my income related to my contract work, as 100% of those earnings go to 1) pay off debt and 2) my savings account, so the more work I’m able to do, the more I can directly benefit from it. I’ve submitted applications for additional work, now I just need to say a prayer and cross my fingers something happens.
I’ll also give myself 10% of any contract income as fun spending money so I don’t feel like it’s all for nothing. This will go toward my Starbucks Card, Sephora, BBW, shoes, clothes, etc so I feel like I’m able to have a bit of fun 🙂
Thoughts like “I can’t afford it” – especially when we actually do have the resources – place our power outside of ourselves. We feel acted upon and forlorn, rather than feeling like a proactive person who is capable of making choices aligned with our best interests.
Just because we choose to say “no” to something, doesn’t mean that we “can’t.”
What a wonderfully powerful way to reframe things. I love it.
I must admit I’ve been feeling shameful about my current situation. It’s hard to not call myself “stupid” or to tell myself I “know better” but I know shaming myself isn’t productive and merely puts me in a cycle of sadness and results in more spending. I’ve been working really hard on reframing, not shaming myself, accepting where I am (which is much easier said than done) and choosing to move forward without shame.
Like many things I’ll face in my life, I can allow this to define me, or I can take it as a learning experience (even if sometimes these experiences are hard) and move forward. I refuse to let this define me and I refuse to be in this place in a year. I also realize how very blessed I am that with careful budgeting and spending (as unfun as it might be) I’ll be debt free in a year, I fully realize a lot of people don’t have that luxury.
After writing this post, I received some books in the mail, one of them being Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup (her mother is Christiane Northrup, who some people may remember from her Oprah days).
Now, I’m only 1.5 chapters into the book, so I can’t offer a review of the book quite yet, but I can say that I do love some of what she has to say. I’m going to save my thoughts on the book as a whole until I’m finished, but I like that Kate struggled with money and she’s come out on the other side, that’s a refreshing point of view for me.