Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Growing Pains

A wise friend recently shared a very good quote with me:

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret." John Rohn.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right. And not only will everyone suffer from one of these two pains, the pain of regret is always WAY worse than the pain of exercising a little self discipline. In fact, discipline is more like discomfort, really. While regret carries with it the crushing weight of wishing forever that you could go back and do things differently. I can think of almost no pain that is worse than the pain of regret.

So, ya, this quote really struck a chord with me. We were talking about budgeting at the time, and I told her how ashamed I was that Big Daddy and I never save. We should. We can. But we don't. Mostly because we have never made a plan to save. And no matter how much he earns, we seem to spend exactly that much. And I knew, could sense in my bones the way you sense upcoming snow, that the day will come when we will need money in savings and won't have it if we don't change something. Soon.

So with a particularly tight month coming up, we finally sat down yesterday and made a budget. We went through 2 months of bank statements so we could get a feel for what we spent our money on, created an Excel spread sheet to categorize everything, then we started deciding what things we could eliminate and what things we could whittle down. And you know what? After about an hour and a half, we had managed to reduce our monthly spending by 43%!!!! Can you imagine?! Not all of it was things we can permanantly get rid of. There were a few bills we'd been paying way more than the minimum. So we'll only pay the minimum this month when things are tight and then go back to bigger payments next month. And there were a few bills we could defer, but only this once. And there were a few incidentals that won't occur this month. But a lot of what we were able to reduce was frivelous spending: clothes, eating out, home decor and housewares, entertainment, etc.

This upcoming month will be tight. I'm taking all the money alloted for groceries, dates/babysitting, "blow mone," etc., and putting it in envelopes. And I won't go out without them. Everything will be paid for, CASH, with those envelopes. So when the money is gone, it's gone. And then we will just do without.

Making the budget was tough. Owning up to our spending was tough. Putting strict spending limits on ourselves was tough. Not spending anything not allowed will be really tough. Keeping track of the money will be tough. But you know what? It feels good. It feels really, really good. And I know whatever pains we experience this month will be nothing compared to the pains we would have felt if we just let ourselves overspend, go into debt, bounce checks, and get upside down. The weight I feel lifted off my shoulders, knowing we'll make it this month, is absolutely FREEING.

I think I'd like to do this every month. We might allow ourselve an adjustment in how much we can spend on a few things--groceries, eating out, etc.-- when the months are more plentiful, but we can take a good portion of the extra is earned those months and put it aside for emergencies, vacations, rainy days, etc. Yep. This feels really really good.

p.s. If you don't budget, but want to start, I recommend these Dave Ramsey worksheets to help you get started. Dave Ramsey Monthly Cash Flow pdf


Kristina P. said...

I can so relate. We spend way more than we need to. We still save a little, but sometimes, when I realize how much we spend on eating out and entertainment, it's ridiculous.

Megan said...

Oh how I love Dave ramsey and his total money makeover. Saving really is a hard necessity.

Mrs. O said...

I can bear my testimony of the envelope system - it works! It's probably something we need to go back to, since lately I'm pretending we have a money tree out back.

Alyssa said...

I'm a big fan of budgeting though I am not very good at strictly doing it for myself. And honestly, one of the things I secretly love about being single is that no one sees how much I spend on, oh, say shoes.

rae said...

Good job; great quote!

Mia said...

I can totally bear my testimony about budgeting too! We have a record of every transaction since we got married. We sit down together twice a month to budget, find out if we are on track or not and readjust depending on the needs of the month. The family finances are too big of a responsibility for one partner to be the sole budgeter/purchase tracker/planner/saver. I love our budget and the freedom it gives us. I really believe that it has been really good for our partnership to do this together. Really I could go on and on. Love a budget :)

Cristo said...

My mind is boggled whenever I read that someone is making the "minimum payment" on anything other than a mortgage.

In my opinion, if it isn't a house, you don't buy it until you can pay for the whole thing up front. That includes cars. The only reason that I exclude a house from this rule is because (theoretically) a house appreciates in value, and therefore is worth going into debt in order to purchase.

Part of the reason why there's inflation is because people buy things on credit. Things that they could not afford but for that credit. It's pretty sick.

Omgirl said...

Well, Christian, MY mind is boggled whenever someone goes to a complete stranger's blog, leaves a nasty, judgemental comment, and then hides behind the anonymity of having no blogger profile.

I may not have perfect finances, but at least I'm brave enough to put my life out there and not hide in cyberspace like a coward.