I basically set my finances on fire this week. Not the good fire. More like my finances feel like they're a dumpster fire. After weeks of tracking and assessment, smart steps toward goals, visioning, reflecting, manifesting ... I had a hard week where each day I felt a step behind, where Baby UIO wouldn't sleep through the night, where no chores got done, where groceries spoiled and takeout was ordered.
Friends, I've failed. I can't even show a screenshot this week because I tracked nothing. I'm reasonably certain I walked right up to the budget line with an impulsive cheesecake purchase and an eBay "buy now" click on a shirt I wanted. I could have crossed it ordering in dinner because we didn't grocery shop for two weekends straight. Depending on if that Amazon order of toddler items can be canceled, I could have left it way behind. You know what? Those purchases didn't even feel that great. I was tired, stressed, vaguely dissatisfied and gave in to the thought that spending to feed my immediate wants would change my longterm state. As anyone who has eaten their feelings or indulged in retail therapy can tell you - it doesn't. Instead, I was left vaguely dissatisfied and more than a little shame-filled.
This might have been the point in another month where I'd quit. Budgeting isn't for me. Finance tracking is too hard. We make enough money to not have to worry about money, so why try to constrain ourselves? Who needs FI anyways?
Not this time.
I was dissatisfied not because I wasn't doing what I was supposed to do but because I didn't do what I had set out to do. I knew what I had earmarked that money for, and instead of spending (or investing) against that goal, I spent on something that mattered less. I was disappointed in myself.
The shame was harder to diagnose - how can I not follow a simple budget? People do it all the time! How can I feel like I don't have *enough* when my discretionary spend budget is more than some people have for necessities? It's important to name that feeling, and to not hide it - I'm going to hold myself to a (trite) truism - it's only shameful if I don't learn from it.
"The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere." - Barack Obama (source)
So, how do I improve?
So with that, I'm dusting myself off and trying again. Here's to getting back on the wagon.
halfway through the month.
Now, I'm down to $198 for the month. Yikes. This past week, I decided to buy a last minute plane ticket to a dear friend's citizenship ceremony. I'm very excited for my friend, and the nature of the event (only scheduled two weeks out) meant that I had to wait on buying the ticket.
While I've gotten a handle on the book clutter (hello sellbackyourbook.com!) from the adults in our family, I'm still a sucker for board books for baby UIO. I ended up getting a few unique books at our local independent bookstore. I discovered the TouchThinkLearn series and baby UIO has been fascinated by 123 because of the textures and holes - I'd consider that a big win! I'll now be on the hunt for others in the series.
I've realized in the two weeks I've been doing this challenge that I need some better parameters - or not even a challenge at all! The point of restricting "discretionary" spends was to be more thoughtful about impulse purchases and things I didn't need - meals out, drinks at happy hour, clothing. What I've found is that my major costs aren't from those areas - they're from spontaneous big ticket items - show tickets, flights, additional hours of childcare, etc. I need to build up a few more months of tracking to understand what is "typical" and I also need to have a different fund for "fun" - perhaps a monthly discretionary closer to $500, but an annual plane tickets budget. I would love suggestions for what has worked for you!
I'll fully retro on this at the end of the month - but for now, going to try to meet this goal!
Blog posts are all by Mrs. Us in Orlando unless otherwise noted. A former military kid, she's glad to have landed in the sunshine state and enjoys year-round summer sports, making every book a "beach read", waterside walks with the fam, and iced lattes.