Went on my checking account this morning. I had a really busy weekend with the little man's birthday and all. Didn't deposit mom and sister's checks for gifts I purchased for them and whoops! Overwithdrawn in the checking account. Grrrrr...part of the problem was DH bought gas and didn't know exactly how much and also an automatic payment went through that I forgot to take into account. But most importantly, I dropped the ball. Dammit! And the fees will be coming too! Minor setback.
Archive for January, 2008
This has absolutely nothing to do with finances, however, it is burning a hole in my brain.
My four year old received a Leapster from my brother for his birthday. I am very anti-video games, especially for very young children like my son. I know in my heart that my brother shopped long and hard for a good gift and chose the Leapster especially for my son. Do I go against the grain of my laurels and allow my son to play with it? Do you think he'll become addicted to it and stop playing with all of his other toys altogether?
I am paranoid and fearful.
Well, for two solid weeks I have kept an accurate checkbook register. Daily, I pop online to check my balance and check it against my checkbook register. It's working out very well. What it is truly showing me, however, is how much money I/we waste on stupid little crap like a run to Walgreens for Vaseline and Chloraseptic tablets for my strep throat. Or how about $13.07 for sleep diapers (we need to begin going to bed without those...goals goals goals). And then there's the "left the house without a lunch because I didn't think I'd eat one I'm so sick and throat hurts so bad" but then I end up going to Subway for lunch because I'm famished and OH they serve SOUP too! Sigh. I'm a work in progress. At least I know exactly how much money I have in my account and how much I'm working with in the next week. It feels much better being aware rather than being completely oblivious and hoping my account doesn't hit zero before the following Friday.
I am not sure if any of you have experienced this as it seems that most of the readership of this web site is relatively serious about finances, but the weeks, even months, after Christmas historically have been wraught with worry and a lack of cash. For the first time in six years, thanks to a very simple excel spreadsheet, I budgeted our money and we did not over extend ourselves this year. I'm so happy about this fact that I could click my heels together and run through the neighborhood proclaiming the joys of a budget.
A little background: the six years on my own--that is outside of my parents' house--have been tumultuous financially. I believe that the largest of it is due to depression. One's finances are very similar to one's house--if you don't keep either clean, it symbolizes a distaste you have for yourself. Also, although I love my parents very much, I blame them for not giving me more direct instruction in the ways of my finances. However, I do remember days when I first opened a checking account when I was diligent about recording everything.
That said, one of my goals for this year, in addition to staying above water, paying off debt, and saving something, is to keep a good checkbook ledger. I have been notoriously poor at this. Year after year, I try, but fail to implement it properly or for a long enough period of time for it to remind me of how little we actually have in the account and how we really couldn't afford the expenditures at Wal-Mart (don't we all go a little shop happy at Wal-Mart?).
In addition to better accounting practices, I am also going to try to write strict lists of what is needed each week and use that to guide purchases at the grocery store. One tip that I read years ago is to set up a system of envelopes in which you store the amount of cash you have budgeted for specific expenditures. I, for example, will have two envelopes. In the first, I will put $120 which I have budgeted for gas (two week period). In the second, I will put $400 which I have budgeted for groceries. Whatever is not spent out of those envelopes for those two weeks will be placed into savings.
Needless to say, I have full knowledge that I have wasted thousands upon thousands of dollars over the last six years. It sickens me to think about it, however, I look to the future. Someone out there, please keep me honest this year.