Monday, December 30, 2013

Typical End of the Year Feelings

Oh December we meet again. A mere 2 days until another new year. I find myself at the end of the year always wondering where the time went? What did I really accomplish this year? But most importantly, I want the next year to be better. I haven't been very good at accomplishing this the past few years. I have mostly been content to stay where I am physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually, etc etc etc. I don't want to be like that. I want to change and make myself better. I want to not be content with what is but be happy with what I have. When I actually write it like that it sounds strange and maybe like those two things don't even fit together. But I want them to. One thing that I have been able to make progress on is in our financial life. Though we haven't stuck strictly to a budget we have been able to cut spending significantly and even start savings. There have been a couple times when we had to use savings for various things but for the most part we have at least a little money in there. In 2014 we are going to do a few things differently which I will talk about in another post probably. But other than finances I feel kind of stuck. We started trying for a baby in September and I was doing really well tracking my cycles and paying attention to ovulation signs and then after a couple months I got frustrated and sad. I know there are many women out there who struggle with infertility and I feel bad saying I got frustrated after a couple months (my best friend tried for 2ish years before they got pregnant with their miracle). But it is how I feel. And so we decided to just not try and not prevent which in reality is still trying I suppose. I guess this was more my decision than hubby's. I stopped tracking just watching for a late period. They have been late a couple times and I got all hopeful and then was crushed seeing the negative test. I never thought I would be like that I thought I would be content with what happens but it makes me worried that something is wrong (even though I know on a logical level this is very unlikely at this point, it has only been 3 cycles of trying, a drop in the bucket for people who have struggled with infertility). I repeat I know that we are just starting and these things can take time but my impatience seems to really shine through in this aspect of life.

Christmas has come and gone. I started this post before Christmas and have yet to finish it. I have these jumbles of thoughts in my head about where I want to be at this time next year and what I need to do to get there. I want to be on our way to being debt free. I think that is definitely #1. It is something that has weighed heavily on me for the last half of this year and I am delving even deeper in the new year. Getting organized for that, celebrating Christmas with family and just mentally preparing for that ball drop is what occupies my time as the year comes to a close. It may seem strange I have to mentally prepare for a ball drop but each year it makes me feel more and more like a failure. Which I know I am not. The last few years I haven't made resolutions partly because I didn't want to let myself down and partly because quite frankly I was lazy and didn't want to try and achieve anything. That is sad but true. This year I still don't necessarily want to make New Years resolutions but I want to have goals to strive for throughout the year. I need to re-prioritize my life. My main goals this year are going to be financial but I also want to take baby steps in other areas. I want to start exercising, make more time for friends and family, and start volunteering. I want to do good in the world and take more time to try new things and things that I enjoy. I want to organize my house and get rid of clutter, seeing as we don't have a little one on the way might as well make time to better prepare my home for a little one when the time comes. I have so many ideas, it is hard to pin them down into a list. I have created a list of financial goals for the year so I will include those here but hoping to create lists for the other things I want to do as well at some point in January. Running out of time to finish it before the 1st but it will be done.

2014 Financial Goals
  • Have $1000 in Emergency Fund
  • Save $1000 for Vegas Vacation in July
  • Save $1000 for new car fund (currently 1 car family as Matt's car is once again overheating)
  • Pay off both of our credit cards (Combined balance of $4551.96 as of the end of this month)
  • After credit cards are paid off, make more than the minimum payment on all other debt.
  • Do not accumulate more debt (this one depends if we have to buy a new car)
  • Tithe 5% by the end of the year (Starting January at 1%)
I plan on posting about our new way of handling finances hopefully this weekend and sharing actually how much debt we have eek! Scary but I need to be accountable even if it is to the unknown blog world (and the couple of friends who read this). Well I need to head to work (yes at McDonalds once again as we have only one car)

Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nov 2013 Financials and New Years Resolutions

In the name of accountability and starting a new way of living financially I wanted to share some of the numbers from November for our budget. One of my resolutions for the New Year is going to be analyzing our financials at the end of each month to figure out where we are messing up and can improve. Making the budget for December, I realized how much tighter things are going to actually be around here and Matt finally realized it too. We went to the movies today and sadly it may be the only fun thing we get to go out and do that costs money this month. Thankfully December is a month of family get-togethers, meals, and general fun in our families. Yes most of that happens at the end of the month but anticipating it is half the fun. This year on Christmas Eve for the 25th year in a row (yes that is my whole life) I will gather with my Mom's side of the family for Mass and dinner and presents. There are no longer any small children but somehow we still have a night filled with laughter and joy and with a little one on the way it once again feels magical. Matt and I get to wake up on Christmas morning with our 2 kitties and our (overgrown puppy) dog and then go to my parents for cinnamon rolls, hot chocolate, presents and comfortable happiness. We will also spend the weekend before celebrating with Matt's parents and brother and sister, the weekend after celebrating with the extended family on my mom's side and with my dad's family, and the following weekend with Matt's extended family on his dad's side. So much family in so little time. I love it. Couldn't ask for anything better. To let go of the old year and bring in the new one surrounded by these awesome people God blessed me with in this life.

Here are the numbers(bear with me on the formatting, too lazy to do a screenshot but still wanted a table):
total spent



groceriesdining outgasMisc

Now let me point out that we have other categories in our budget, these are just the monthly variable ones that we struggled with the most. 

The thing is for the most part, we have cut way back on groceries, so still being close to $200 over kind of shocked me. But hopefully the groceries I bought at the end of November will mostly last until a couple weeks into December and we can make up for it. Because of this overage though I did add a $50 dollar cushion for December. Here is a look back at grocery spending the last few months:
October: $406.51 (again could be higher as I fell off the wagon at the end of this month)
September: $441.64
August: $455.69

Dining out is also something we have cut way back on. Lets take a look back:
October: $215.78 (fell off the tracking wagon at the end of that month so it may have been higher). 
September: $323.07
August: $388.51

Gas. What can I say, we didn't really plan very well obviously. My husband and I both commute ~30 miles to work, so ~60 miles round trip, 5 days a week. As I mentioned before though we have started car pooling when possible to cut back on miles. This is one of our categories that is hard to cut because we have to work. For December I added $110 to this category. Another look back:
October: $491.40 (probably higher as I fell off tracking wagon, may have to figure out closer to actual numbers as this is a pretty big discrepancy)
September: $579.10
August: $736.46

Misc. This is where we put all that random stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else. Stops at the gas station, newspapers, cash for Matt for work snacks and other stuff. This is a category where Matt does a little bit more spending than I do. I drink coffee from home in the morning and normally eat something for breakfast as well. Many times Matt doesn't think about caffeine or food until he is out the door so he will stop. He used to do it without even thinking but now that I have shown him how much money it actually is, he gets cash out and uses that until it is gone, normally a week to a week and a half. This has helped tremendously as evidenced by these numbers:
October: $188.45
September: $825.51 (Note: This is when I was just expense tracking and so many more categories are probably included that I have since further divided using Pear Budget. Goes for the next two months as well)
August: $530.81
July: $353.19

I guess what it all comes down to is for us the budget thing is definitely still a work in a progress. The last couple months when I set it up I thought I would be at least close to what we would actually do and that hasn't happened so much. So I keep starting over. For December I have changed some of the numbers and categories. I lumped stuff into a smaller amount of categories for the variable expenses as well.  Here is what the December Budget looks like:

Regular Expenses=$ Spent Per Month
student loan=$330.00
credit card=$145.00
car payment=$251.00

Irregular Expenses=$ Spent Per Month

Variable Expenses=$ Spent Per Month
dining out=$25.00
car gas=$500.00