Budgeting for Reality

Screenshot 2018-06-30 20.46.22

Contending with reality, as I faced headlong in my last post, I think I’m off to a good start for July 2018. I’ve got the budget nailed down to the penny, including the big chunk of change for one my loved one to go into treatment plus money for fall college tuition for two kids.

I barely recognize myself — I’ve got money in the bank to pay for things now. I don’t need to put a thing on a credit card. The money is in the bank. I can write a check. What a concept.

Shocking — until now, even though we make a quarter million dollars a year, we never had anything in the bank. It was always a scramble at the start of every month to put as much as possible toward paying off previous months’ — and year’s — debts. So there was nothing much available to pay for the coming month’s expenses.  How stupid is that?

I’ve got two master’s degrees and a PhD  — but somehow I never got a basic education on handling money.

Thankfully now, having woken up,  I am wiser. At the start of the month I set aside what I realistically need for the coming month (mortgage, utilities, food, insurance, car loans, parent load, minimum credit card payment), plus whatever I need to set aside for coming college costs, and only then do I allocate money toward my debt snowball. I then put as much as I can that is left over toward paying off debt. The difference now is that I don’t have to use a credit card for a thing.

Tbis morning, I withdrew $1200 cash from the bank to cover the coming month’s groceries for the family of four and the pocket money for the two of us. I then went shopping for at Aldi where three huge bags of pantry staples that should last the month cost me $42. Okay, not organic, but how amazing is this??? Then I went to the little organic shop to get some specialty things and that cost $35 for five items. I’m going to rethink specialty stuff, like maybe I’ll make my own seitan. Then later I went to the regular grocery store for Peet’s coffee and some other basics I can’t get at Aldi’s, and that cost about $78. I also went to the liquor store and used some of my pocket money to buy a case of wine.

So all told that’s a big outlay for one day, but I’ve found that this is the best way to start the month. There will be fewer runs to the grocery store, more cooking at home, more staying on budget.

And I’m still looking at getting out of credit card debt within one year, paying off car and parent loan by January 2020, and maybe even paying off the house by January 2025.

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Image: Pierre Koenig’s  Case Study House #21

 

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