Wednesday, December 30, 2009

ahh ... money

A year ago, I would have said that I HATED having a budget; what I really meant is that it was hard for me to stick to a budget and not be consumed by it. I knew it was good for me (blah, blah, blah) but it was hard for me to find a system that worked, and I had tried.

Over the first part of this year, it became clear to me that I wasn't "in control" of my finances. Sure, I made more than I spent but that wasn't on purpose, it was just how it worked out (probably mainly 'cuz I dislike shopping). I knew I wanted a better sense of where my money was going and how I could save more. I was getting motivated. Then, I got engaged and was planning our wedding (and how to pay for it) and my roommate, who's rent was going directly into my savings, was going overseas for several months. I had heard of Dave Ramsey ... my brother is crazy about him and over a weeks time, several friends began talking about the envelope budget system.

In June, I started with the envelopes and took a good look at Ramsey's baby steps. The first few months of the envelopes were difficult, I'm not going to lie, but I did learn how to shop better and less and I adjusted the budget once to make things a little easier. Now I am very close to being back to what I had intended to spend each month when I started over the summer. It is really helpful for me not to be consumed by where the money goes (counting receipts and whatnot) but instead, knowing I have a certain amount for each category a month, or week as I mentally separated my grocery budget into a weekly amount.

I was able to make my goal for savings, which I now think was too conservative but I did make it. I also ended up saving money from the envelopes, which really surprised me. This money went into a "honeymoon fund" and that envelope is now bulging. I am not sure what exactly we will use it for, but I an sure it will be fun. For this coming year, I am going to be more specific - maybe have it be a Christmas presents fund or for a special occassion.

For this coming year, I want to make larger goals. I think it was good for me to start small, now I know exactly how much money I have to play around with and where it all goes. And I am motivated to make larger changes. It is good for me to realize how my attitude has changed towards money and that makes me excited to see what comes next.

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