It’s working!

Ever since we’ve gotten plans in place to start our Total Money Makeover, I feel like I’ve been in waiting mode. Although we’re putting things like the envelope system into practice now, I’ve been anxious to begin our first whole month of our budget, to get the emergency fund fully in place, and to start whipping through our loans. Then, we prepared our March 15 budget. Ouch.

Bills this month are really high. It’s lucky that we spent so many months trying to be a month ahead on our bills, because that extra cash is getting put to work! We’re paying for 6 months of car insurance, license and registration fees, half a membership to a CSA, an extra high internet bill since we just switched companies, a marriage conference, and a mortgage payment’s worth of taxes to the feds. I’m excited about two of those things. I’ll let you guess which ones.

I forgot our high internet bill on our first budget and then didn’t know how I was going to make things balance. We would have needed to get rid of all of our entertainment spending (which isn’t much) and money for household items and/or clothes. I knew that our state tax return should be coming soon, and was praying that God would work things out before the month began.

I think God delights in waiting until things look truly dismal and swooping in from out of nowhere to save the day in ways that only He can. He is totally doing that right now. And I am thankful! Here’s what he’s doing.

  • Our state tax return was deposited into our account earlier this week, taking care of the internet bill we needed to cover and allowing us to save a little next month.
  • We got our $75 check in the  mail from BP that we forgot to order the first time we closed our account.
  • I’m working about 40 hours over the 9 days of Spring Break and bringing in the big bucks.
  • The Feds sent us a notice in the mail saying that they’ve accepted our amendment to our 2008 taxes and will be sending us our First Time Homebuyer’s tax credit sometime in the next two weeks! (We weren’t expecting this till June because reports we’ve heard said things were moving really slowly. When you’re$ 7 trillion in debt like we are, it feels great to hear that you’re going to get a gigantic check in two weeks. Oh wait. We’re not $7 trillion in debt. The people giving us this money are. That’s weird.)
  • My sister sold me her old camera for $10! (Actually, she owed me $8 for groceries, so it only took $2 out of my pocket!) So, once I buy batteries, I can include pictures in my posts again!
  • I found out about an education-related summer job and applied for it.

So, instead of having to scrape by on a bare bones budget like we thought, we’ll get to pay all of our bills like normal, finish our emergency fund, pay off our car (which is good since we just rolled through 100,000 miles!), pay off a small student loan, and put the rest toward another debt!

I’ve also been discouraged by our budget. I felt like we weren’t saving enough money to put toward debt each month. I stared and stared at our budget template, trying to figure out what we could reduce or do without. There’s really not much left, unless we stop eating or flake out on commitments. But today, my negative perspective changed.

I got done with a work meeting early and was planning to hang out at Capanna while Dexter finished roasting. I stopped at Petco on the way to buy dogfood for Fitz. There’s a Gordman’s in the same parking lot as the Petco, and I decided to go in. Don’t worry–I had a plan. I checked in my special FPU envelope system wallet to see how much “household supplies / random useful neccessities” money I had left. I went in looking for a small cookie scoop. (My small one broke a long time ago, and I like making small cookies because then I feel like I’m eating more and hopefully don’t eat as much.) I went straight for the kitchen section, but they didn’t have what I wanted. I inherited my mother’s shopping skills, so I had to peruse a little more. They had porcelain travel mugs like this (dishwasher safe!) and water bottles, which I’ve been thinking about buying for a while. They were a bargain, and I was tempted to get out my debit card and just adjust next month’s budget later. They also had something that I thought would be a great gift for my mother-in-law (sorry, Linda, I’m not spilling the beans here). Then, I found these awesome canister things that I was SURE would solve all of my disorganized pantry problems. But, instead of buying these things and hoping Dexter would agree it was a good idea, I walked out of the store empty-handed and told him about what I saw.

It was kind of a bummer not to buy any of my “great finds,” but I felt really good about making sure I consulted Dexter about changing the plan. Also, I will probably decide not to buy most of the things I saw, so that is money saved. If I do buy them, I now have time to think of how many to get, what sized canisters will make the best use of the space in my pantry, and details like that. It’s good to remind myself that I can go back to the store later after I’ve had time to really think about making a purchase. If we decided we really needed those travel mugs, we could even decide to take some older, non-dishwasher safe travel mugs to sell at Stuff Etc. and wait till we get money from our sales there to buy new travel mugs. If I had decided to buy everything I “thought would be beneficial” on my debit card, I could have spent $91. But I didn’t, because $91 is more than $14, and $14 is how much I had. (I feel like that’s something Dave Ramsey would say.) It was an encouragement to realize that even though I felt like my budget template wasn’t going to produce the amazing results I thought it should, my improvement in sticking to my budget is making a bigger difference than I imagined!

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3 thoughts on “It’s working!

  1. Sounds to me like the enjoyment you got from sticking to your plan is actually greater than the net enjoyment (Weeee-new-stuff-factor minus feeling-a-little-guilty-factor = net enjoyment)of all that stuff! Good for you! I think what I hear from you is that you are “getting real” about your finances. (I can empathize a bit b/c I’m “getting real” about what I eat.) It can be a humbling, uncomfortable process. But the pay offs are big! Just because one doesn’t choose to see the truth (about any situation) doesn’t mean that it stops being true. Good for you guys for being honest. The splurges you DO choose will be real and not an illusion, as will the longer term results of paying down your debt.

  2. Pingback: Total Money Makeover Update « Mrs. Dexter

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