Friday, May 31, 2013

Back to Basics Budget

I tutor students in the evenings in order to help pay our bills.  *B* doesn't make enough for me to stay home without it, but we have a small overage when I tutor.  Rather than being prudent, we were using the extra cash for fun things or miscellaneous expenses:  a dinner out here, a coffee there, a store-bought gift for a friend's baby shower, that kind of thing.  Eighty-five percent of the time, the purchase is food related.  In the summers, my tutoring drops off significantly (though not completely).  As of this week, my tutoring drops from 4 days a week to 2, and I just hit a scary realization:

We can't technically make our bills this month.  

I've been ignoring our budget for far too long, and somehow (though not really somehow, I'm the one who did it), we've wracked up a moderate credit card bill.

We tried swearing off these miscellaneous purchases completely.  We've tried setting goals like "if we don't go out to eat this month, we can get this very modestly priced item that we've wanted."  (The item in question is a mason jar sealing attachment for my FoodSaver that costs less than $10.)  We've tried giving ourselves a very small budget of $20 a month to allow for a few splurges.  But it always ends up that our willpower fails us.

I really have no idea what I'm going to do.  We need to find the power to loose the hold our temptations have on us.  We need to plan ahead - rather than stopping for dinner at 6 pm because we ran errands at 3:30 pm, we should have had food with us, eaten beforehand, or *gasp* waited the twenty minutes to drive home and thirty minutes to get some good food on the table.  (That was tonight.)

Going out to eat needs to be something we just DON'T THINK ABOUT anymore. 

The other part of my problem:


Rather than admitting that I can't afford something, I'll find a way to "make it work".  We buy it anyway, then I realize later that there is no way to make it work if it means shorting your mortgage. My mom was (is) the same way.  She would buy things (mostly food) in the exact same way, and then she and my dad would have a huge argument when he found out what she was doing.  While *B* and I don't have arguments about it, I feel massively guilty.

Rather than making a gift, printing up some baby related IOU cards, or admitting to a friend that I couldn't afford a baby shower gift for her, *B* and I bought a $50 gift from her registry.  My thinking was that I know she spent at least that much - probably more - on the gift she gave us.  But she and her husband make at least twice what we do a year, and we all know it.  Since she's such a good friend, wouldn't I think she'd understand that we're on a tight budget?

It seems what we need are a little humility, some honesty (with ourselves and others), and creativity.  Starting tomorrow (June 1st), things are going to be different because they HAVE to be different.

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