Sunday 21 January 2018

budgeting - frustrating this family since 2014


A piggy bank on a white surface
The end is in sight people, the longest, poorest month is drawing to a close. This time next week I'll be out doing something with the kids that costs actual money instead of sitting at home colouring and trying to come up with yet another "inventive" pasta dish for dinner. We'll be living the high life, visiting cafes like rich folk!

I've mentioned budgeting here a few of times over the last couple of years and every time I do I get questions about it. As it's early in a shiny new year I thought it might be the right time to share how we do it....

Badly. That's how we do it friends, really frickin badly! Things never, EVER end up as we have planned and there always seems to be money that just evaporates into thin air. But at least we try I guess, and I think we do know where we're going wrong and have decided to make a big effort to get on top of it this year.

I say "we", like it isn't a stone cold fact that it's me and my crippling FOMO that's derailing us!

Budgeting first became a major thing for us when I was at the end of my maternity leave with Max. My official leave was over so there wasn't any money coming in on my end, and we were trying to decide if it was possible for me to give up my full time job. That first month we downloaded a free budget template online and filled it in, and while we've moved on to our own spreadsheets (Gavin) and notebooks (Me) we still use the same basic idea that we started with.

Which is......that you note all your incomings (wages, children's allowance etc) and outgoings (direct debits, bills to pay every month) and then you assign amounts to things like entertainment, clothes etc out of what's left, with the idea being that you know where all your money is going ahead of time, so there are no surprises and no accidental overspending.


    Image result for budgeting meme

It doesn't work, or at least it doesn't for us, and after two years of 
being constantly surprised that we're broke again at the end of every month it's time to try something different. 

I'm surprised, Gavin is merely resigned. The man knows me. And I say "broke" when I mean "don't have the money to run around enjoying ourselves on days out all the time but all the essentials are covered". I know how privileged we are, believe me.

So this month we're going to try using cash only for the day to day stuff. No cards getting whipped out to pay for lattes and covert trips to Penney's. If I can actually see my money diminishing maybe I'll be able to control myself! 

I'm also going to try and shop for things like clothes and homewares a hell of a lot less, both to try and save money and to just cut down on the amount of crap that sits around taking up space and not being used in this house! Honestly, this month I've cleared out the playroom, our clothes and the linen cupboard and the amount of stuff I gathered up for the charity shop is crazy. And I do this every six months!!!!! It's such a waste, from a money standpoint definitely but also from a bloody environmental one. I need to start giving myself time to think before I make purchases, and I practiced that last week by going to Ikea with my sister in law and not buying a SINGLE thing!! Yep, that's right, nothing, nada, zip. And honestly, it felt amazing, and I now know exactly what I'm going to buy when I make my next trip because I got to take a look, come home and consider. I can do this people!!

So that's the plan, purchase less, make the purchases we do make more considered, and stop buying things before we can really afford them just because it's convenient or I feel like we'll miss out. Ikea was a perfect example of this, because we are planning on buying quite a few items from there, so it would have been easy to buy them when I was there with my sister in law and she was already getting a lot of stuff delivered, but no, the stuff we want won't really be needed for another month or two, and it's more important right now to fill our emergency fund back up.

Look at me being all mature and crap. 

So that's the plan folks, no more jumping the gun in this house when it comes to spending money. I'm a grown ass woman, this shouldn't be so hard!

How do you guys budget? Any tips? I need help people, for real!!

**** edit: Since I posted this I've had people asking me where they can find actual information on budgeting, how to get started, helpful tools, you know, basically something that wasn't just me rambling on about my own situation! The reason I didn't go into specifics was because, well, obviously what I'm doing isn't working out that well, and I wouldn't like to be all preachy about how to go about it when I haven't even gotten to grips with it myself. Having said that though, the thing that started me off on a quest to get control of my money was a book I read a few years ago called The Total Money Makeover by a guy called Dave Ramsey, (Kindle edition here) and if you don't know where to start you could really do worse than picking up that book. His advice is straightforward and easy to follow, and he talks you through everything from getting out of debt all the way up to investing (some glorious day that will be me dammit!!). 

When we first started we went to his website and downloaded a free prinatable budget form that we filled out every month. If you might find that helpful it's here. I moved on to just a notebook dedicated to budgets(like this one)  when I got to know exactly what categories we did and didn't need anymore as I just found it tidier and better for carrying around, but I have recently seen this new Japanese budgeting system called a Kakeibo that I really want to try out. I think I need to have my budget on me all the time in order to track purchases, otherwise I "forget" to list things, so maybe having this pretty little book will encourage me to carry it, and USE it!! But then, buying pretty notebooks when a regular old pen and paper will do is the kind of attitude that got me here in the first place so maybe not. And before you all start telling me about the great budgeting apps out there, I'm a pen and paper woman all the way I'm afraid :)

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