Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Debt Diet

Budgets are scary. You know why? Because when you put all the numbers down on paper (or in Excel, like I did), you wonder how in the heck you have been paying your bills. I've never made a budget before. Not beyond, writing down my bills and guessing I had enough to pay them. But, with the new year, comes better intentions.

Remember the getting out of debt and dieting comparison? They're pretty similar to me. I would like to diet and lose weight, but I really like to eat. And I always have an excuse to not start. Like, I'll wait until after the holidays, or I'll start Monday, or when the Pepsi and Oreos are all out of the house. I guess you could say, I lack the motivation. Don't we all? Same thing for getting out of debt. I mean to, but I just don't get around to it. I have excuses for that too. I'll wait until after the holidays, or I'll start Monday, or after I write this next paper. Or after I buy a new coat. Okay, not really. I can almost always talk myself out of spending money.

So, we're going cold turkey here. I have created a budget of our income and monthly expenses, and we have agreed to not buy anything in January that is non essential. Which is harder than you think. Because my husband, while he wouldn't admit it, likes to spend money and live like there is always tomorrow to pay the bills. For instance, knowing I had already mentioned a spending freeze for January, and despite the pork chops defrosted in the fridge, on December 31, dear husband says "I'm going to get Chinese food and stop by McD's for the kids." I think he missed the point of a spending "freeze".

And, I'm a cheater. I have already cheated and we're only one week in. But, I did get $25 for Christmas so that $100 worth of Xmas decor that I bought at 75% off for $25 was technically, not out of the budget. Not to mention what a bargain it was. I do an ornament exchange every year and already got all those ornaments for next Christmas for cheap. Ignore that last sentence if you get one.
The high chair that I found on Craigs*list for $30 was bought with Tess's Christmas card money. And the new coat that Tatum desperately needed....... gift card.

We don't seem to live paycheck to paycheck and the money to pay things always seem to be there. But, I would like to keep better tabs on our money, hence, the actual budget. And since that budget shows us being over every month based on my minimum hours, we will continue to stick with the spending freeze for January. (I didn't count the extra hours I usually work since they are not guaranteed.) I'll keep you posted and let you know how things go.

For some better ideas to crawl out of debt, visit Bossy's Poverty Party


Kristin said...

I have been living on a budget for about 6 months now. I does get easier.

MeadowLark said...

I hope this goes well. I'd like to pretend that we live on a budget, but we don't. Although we've paid off $15,000 worth of debt this year (mortgages and student loans are included - wouldn't that suck if it were all credit card debt? Yikes~!)

Hang in there... it is an eye opener to see where it all goes.

Libby@Thrifty Victorian Home said...

I know what you mean about wondering how you make ends meet when you actually write down the #s. We've always been fine too, but I hope to really watch where every penny goes this year.