Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mini-breakdown, now coming out the other side...

I had such motivation a few weeks ago. I wanted to get back on track with my weight loss and use you all as way to be accountable. It failed. I wanted to explain why.

For the past 6 months we have been lucky enough to be getting commission checks from one of Hubby's old jobs. We did not know how much they would be every month, or when they would stop coming. We had been doing well with paying the bills and rent, but we relied on that money too much. We had several emergencies that made those checks a Godsend. We came to rely on them too much, so when they stopped we were not prepared.

When you are wondering where you are going to come up with rent money, nothing else matters. Everything else on your plate slides off into the trash. I was so stressed out that everything salty, sweet and greasy found its way into my mouth. I found myself on the couch, crying and barely able to get up to go get my oldest from school. Dramatic Much?!?!? Yes, but that was where I was at.

What did I do to come out of it?

1. I forgave myself. I forgave myself for not keeping on a strict budget. I forgave myself for not saving more money. I told myself that I am only human. We all make mistakes. The key is, to forgive yourself and move on.

2. I had to admit failure and pull some money out of savings to get pay rent. I hated doing this, but in reality the pain of doing so helped to solidify the determination to not let it happen again.

3. I sat down immediately and came up with a system to get spending in control. This meant coming up with a realistic budget. Anyone can set up a budget, but it takes being realistic and following it that matters. I had been setting up a budget for months, but failed in following it.

4. I decided that I needed to make myself review the finances every day. I had an old ledger that lists all of your expense types (rent, food, gas, utilities, etc); with a column for every day of the week. I told myself that every time I spent anything, I would log it in that journal. I decided that as soon as I got up in the morning (after breakfast), I would log anything I spent the day before. I would check the checking account to make sure I was on the same page. You may ask why I don't use my check register. When you are spending cash, that doesn't reflect what you are actually spending on different items. I would take out a chunk of cash for food and gas, but I didn't know where it was actually going. My goal is to use this log to make a better budget the following month. It will also give me a visual on where I need to reign things in my spending.

5. I set up the calender that hangs on our wall. It is a dry erase calendar, so I can update it every month. What I did was to sit down with the bills. I listed the bill, amount and due date in the bottom notes section. Then in the box for that date, I put "cable due", "rent due", etc. As I pay them I will mark that it was paid.  This will give my husband and idea on what is due and when it was paid. I also went through my daughters school announcements to see what financial commitments I had for her. This month she had pictures, PTA dues, and a Scholastic book fair. In the past we could never do these things because we didn't plan for them. Not anymore!

6. Each payday, before I spend any money on anything else, I will pay the bills due that pay period. The problem I was having was that I would go shopping first. I would overspend, or the week would get away from me and then something wouldn't get paid so it would roll into the next week. Then we wouldn't have enough to pay the next weeks bills on top of the previous weeks bills. It would roll and roll on like this until the end of the month when we were "screwed". I hate to admit this, but if more people knew that other's are having the same issues, maybe I can help get them make the changes they need to make too.

7. After I pay the bills, I will take what is left and subtract my food, gas, odds n ends budget. What ever is left over will go into our short term savings account. This will help us to make sure we have rent money at the end of the month.

To wrap it up, we have started this month on a really good standing. I have regained control and feel more relaxed. I have heard time and time again that when your "house" is in disorder, everything else is too.

That brings me back to my weight loss journey. I read a really good blog post (http://thecouponproject.com/how-i-am-losing-weight-without-dieting-or-breaking-my-budget/) It helped me to realize that it isn't about diets or fads. It isn't about setting a goal with an end date. It is about getting active. Calories in and out. You can read the post to see what you get out of it, as it might be different than what I did. My personal weight loss journey will continue. For now I am focusing on trying to keep my finances in order. Get active. Enjoy life. I will share my successes as they happen. Maybe one day when I the finances are completely under control I will get more serious about the weight issues. For now I have to focus on one thing.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to share your journey. I love hearing them.