Big Spender

I have a confession to make: I'm bad at managing money. It's true that I'm good at finding bargains and I'm good at finding discounts and sales. The problem is that I'm also really good at spending money. I have a "budget" and keep track of where every penny goes. My checkbook is always balanced and I usually have no credit card debt. The problem is that I spend everything I get. Looking at my budget for this year, I've spent my entire income each month, and usually even a little bit more than that. I have little in savings, and when we get extra money we tend to spend it instead of saving it.

There are some legitimate issues we have as far as budgeting. For most of our marriage our income has really fluctuated. We've often had periods of lower cash flow, like this summer when I wasn't employed. Those are problematic because what we tend to do is to build up savings during good times and then blow it during lean times. Or, even worse, use the credit card during lean times and then pay it off instead of saving when we do have money. We also have had a very low income for our entire marriage thus far, and when we've started making more we have increased our expenses right along with our income. Some of this is reasonable based on our family size, but some is not.

Which brings me to why I was thinking about this today. I've been wanting some new casual shoes to replace the ones I have. So I noticed that JC Penney was having "the biggest sale ever" and decided to go have a look. I did buy some shoes, but I also bought some new clothes too. I've realized that I have a tendency to base my shopping on what I'm going to save rather than what I'm going to spend. And saving thirty dollars isn't that great when you have to spend fifty to do it. So I think I need to try figuring out some budgeting categories and actually stick with them. I hate having limits, but I think I need to do this. I also don't shop for clothes very often, like every six months or so, so I'm not sure if I should have a monthly limit or something quarterly. I think I will also try to work on not thinking about stuff. I spend a lot of time thinking about what will happen once I buy stuff (new clothes, new dishes, new books, etc). Generally the actual shopping experience is a bit of let-down. Well, except our new car. Six months later we have no regrets. So these are my new financial goals: 1. Think about "stuff" less often 2. Don't spend more than my income each month.

Comments

Courtney said…
I totally struggle with this too. We are always kicking ourselves for not being smarter with our money when things were more stable. And I can't stop thinking about all the fun stuff I want. I used to focus on how much I would save on things (especially at Costco!), but if it ends up being more than you would originally spend, it isn't worth it. I am working on really deciphering between needs and wants.
Desmama said…
This is a challenge for me too that has really come to a fore lately with the economy hitting hard--everything is costing more and we're realizing that if we want to aggressively save something every month, we've got to cut back. It's been tough, but I've been surprisingly (for me) up for the challenge.

I really don't like to handle the finances in our house, but if I'm given a certain amount for, say, groceries, I've been happy with how I've been able to stretch it and make it work. It's been a confidence-builder, I must confess. And believe me, no one is more surprised than I am that I can actually make it work and have some left over even out of the budgeted amount for food storage and fun extras.

All that to say good luck and I know the challenge. Just like your last post. ;)
This is such an echo of my own self. How can we be making triple the money than when we were first married and still run 10% short every month?

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