I decided at the beginning of the year to start balancing my bank account.
See, I can't be trusted with mainstream credit cards (the kind not attached to a cash funded account). I've had them before and quickly spiraled out of control. After 2 years of hard work I paid off the not small balance and kept the card but literally froze it in my sisters freezer.
Then things got tight, full time college student part time worker and expensive gas. Pretty soon, that little red card and I got to be tight again. Too tight.
A windfall occurred after much wailing and gnashing of teeth and I was able to pay off everything. My credit card, my car, some small personal loans and I was free and clear except my growing student loans.
I stayed that way until I bought my house a few years back, but even now the only debt I have is student loans and my mortgage.
This means if I want something it has to be cash. Which is good and really freakin annoying at the same time. But I've been playing it close to the wire and spending all I have all the time. I hear that with a house that isn't really a great idea because you know...things happen to houses. (my current prayer is for storm damage to my roof so insurance will replace it instead of me saving a daunting amount of money for a new roof in 3 years)
But I always feel like my money just flies out of my hands, there's just so much fun stuff to spend money on and so I spend it.
The first (huge) step for me was cutting out satellite. I just didn't watch enough TV anymore and as long as Pete was on board that would save $85/month. Every other recurring monthly bill is mostly a "need". I mean, I could go to a prepaid basic phone but I am on the go a lot and feel I can justify the smart phone bill I have, especially now that Pete and I are on a shared plan. But other than that my recurring bills are, student loans, electric, water, and basic gas, food expenses.
Now I'm working to track how much I spend on what to see what I'm wasting my money on and y'all....I'm mortified to say it's food.
Not even good food. Convenient food, bad food choices etc.
I considered giving up not giving things up for lent to give up eating outside of homes for lent (that sentence was intentionally confusing)
But in the next few weeks I have several dinner/lunch meetings and a mini family vacation that will involve eating out a lot. I mean, I could probably still do it, but well....it would be super hard and I would cheat so I'm just going to not do it. (Because when things are hard I just don't do them....I mean I'm in THERAPY people, let's not pretend to be surprised at my crazy)
However, the point of this post is simple. I have gone from not balancing my check book at all to balancing it almost every day. I earn way to much money for a single/no dependent person to make budgeting this hard. So far, it's working in small amounts of money accumulating in my savings account and bills consistently being paid on time for the first time in way to long. Hopefully I don't get bored/distracted/depressed/discouraged and quit, because it's nice to know what I have to spend and what I don't for a change.