I've made an interesting discovery as of late, hoping I'm staying within my budget is different from actually staying within my budget . The thing that really bugs me though is I have nothing to show for my lack of budgeting--no fancy clothes, no jewelry, no new electronics, and no expensive dates (unless you think $1.06 on a redbox movie is expensive). I've been continually baffled by the fact that it feels like we're scrimping and saving but somehow we're also living pay check to pay check some months. Noah and I even went cash based for a while, but didn't seem to get anywhere because I was always "borrowing" money from one category to use on another (for instance, if I saw a box of Jello pudding pops smiling at me in the freezer section, I wouldn't hesitate to borrow money from the car maintenance envelope and add the piece of happiness to my basket).
Knowledge is power though. Now that I know I have to actively follow my budget, I've actually been sticking to it and guess what--we're not worried about making it to the next pay check now. And I have to say that the fun of spending money on a whim has been mostly replaced by the challenge of staying within a certain dollar amount in my budget categories, the toughest one to keep: food.
We're back to cash now, but this time around I'm only pulling it out for the week not the month, and only if I need it.
You can now see me at the grocery store carrying my husbands gigantic TI-86, weighing produce and adding up totals to be sure I'm within budget. I've also become the cashier's biggest fear because I know how much I'm supposed to be paying for everything in my cart and I make sure I get that price (unless it rings up for less in which case I just grin thinking of where I can spend that extra 35 cents).
This week, I had a whole $9.00 left over after all the grocery shopping was done, you know what that means? Family luncheon at Wendy's (dollar menu only)!
Added bonus: Noah is a happier husband and who knows, maybe we'll even make it to Europe next year after all.