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Budgeting – Getting Organized

cash

Recently, speaking with some of my co-workers about budgeting and getting debt-free, the statement was made to me “we aren’t even ready to start a budget.” My question is if you are in financial straights, how can you not budget??? Believe me it is hard — very hard to get started, but to get on the right financial path it is absolutely necessary.  The very first thing you have to do to be successful is do a reality check with yourself about what you really owe.  Remember — no debt is good debt, no matter what you may have heard.

Three years ago, when I sat down and looked at my world — I was shocked.  I didn’t think I was doing too bad in life. I had just gone through a divorce and had a little more credit card than normal. I also had a surgery a few months before and had some doctor bills. But they were on a payment plan and I was not having any trouble making the payments.  I had a car loan (for a brand new car), but everyone has car loans — right???  When I sat down and put all of the outstanding balances together, along with the monthly payments — I was dumbfounded.  I was $40,000 in debt (with no house debt).  How in the world did it happen.  All my life I felt I was living within my means, making payments on time, had good credit — where did I get astray.

Let me say, it was easy to say it was because of the divorce.  It is because of all the extra expenses I have had recently.  Everyone has debt. I’m doing fine.  But it wasn’t — I was $40,000 in debt and 50 years old.  I decided now – not later, was the time to fix this problem.

The first thing I did was get organized and look at what I really “needed” to spend in a month.  I then split this into two parts.  I get paid two times a month, so at the top of the page I wrote what my income was and then subtracted everything due in the first of the month pay period.  I then took what was left over on paper and added it to my income for the end of the month and subtracted everything I needed to pay the second half of the month.  The first thing I noticed was the amount of money I had left over.  Part of this is likely because I forgot a bill here or there.

The bigger part is because I was not controlling my money and it was dribbling out of my hands without even noticing.  What I did to really help myself get on track is write down everything I spent — no matter how small the amount.  I also switched to cash for my “allowance” which includes eating lunch out, personal care, stuff I just want — those type of things.  Before this exercise I rarely had cash — it was easy to just pull out the debit or credit card.  I also switched to paying cash for groceries. I was very disciplined — if I ran out of cash — I couldn’t spend any more money.

It was amazing to see where all of my cash was going, looking back over the years I was really not very good with money (even when I thought I was great).  By controlling exactly how much I was giving myself to spend, I was really able to get a handle on all of those little drips in my cash.  Even though I am now debt-free, I still manage my cash the same way.

After doing this for a month, I was ready to really budget — and really start the journey to debt-free.

No More Excuses

No Excuses2

With the beginning of the last half of the year, I decided this is a time to recommit to several things important in my life. I am very much like many other people in it is easy to make an excuse for why, why, why. One of the things I have let go to the wayside is this blog. I have made the decision I am going to write what is in my heart and if you enjoy reading what I write it is a good day for both of us. I have also made a recommitment to get healthy and lose some weight. This post will be mostly about this decision, what I am doing and why I really don’t have an excuse to not make myself healthier.

My story started five years ago when I was a year away from my 50th birthday. My kids were grown and I really wasn’t happy with my life. The day before my 49th birthday me and my husband of almost 30 years decided to part our ways. I moved from a long commute to 2 miles from work. The first few months I floundered a bit, but found my footing.

I then made the decision it was time to get healthier. I worked very hard and lost 25 pounds (yeah me). I turned 50 to great celebration and three weeks later met the man of my dreams. At first, I kept up with the exercise and even though I wasn’t always eating great, I did it enough it wasn’t a big deal. Then as I got deeper in the relationship, I began to find excuses for us not to work out. Instead many evenings, we would go eat somewhere. As we all know eating out is never as healthy as cooking at home.

Then I decided to marry this man of my dreams and move 50 miles from my day job. Now I was really able to make excuses (I get home too late, I’m too tired, it has been a long day…on and on and on). So here I am 4 hours later and have regained every pound I lost.

Then — the worst thing ever happened. My dear father died rather suddenly and all at once mortality became a real thing. So at the beginning of the new half of this year, my dear husband and I decided we were really going to get healthy.

So you may be asking yourself — what exactly does this have to do with being frugal. Well over the next few weeks, I will tell you exactly how I am losing weight and getting healthier without adding any more to our budget. Just like the exercise and eating right — this post is to get me back on the right track of doing something I love — writing about what is important to me and how to do it as cost-effectively as possible.

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