Overspent with 5 days to go!

If you had asked me last week, I would have giddily told that this month I would come in under budget. There would have been light behind my eyes. I might have danced.

As of this morning, that is not happening. I’m overbudget. Wamp wamp. The good news is that I purposefully budget with a buffer. My budget is set lower than what I bring in each month. The bad news is that I’m pretty sure I’m surpassing that one too.

The lesson I am learning every month is that I suck at budgets. Looks like it’s time to get back to writing down all my purchases neurotically again. A month without led to another accidental overspend.

Putting my serious pants on right now.

Roll call: How do you budget? Are you a 50/20/30 girl? Cash only? What works, people?

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Travel SNAFU & Temptation

So I took a work trip to the MidWest on Tuesday. I was invited to participate on a panel. I thought I would just fly in and out so I could minimize the dent to our office’s travel budget. Boy was I freaking wrong.

My flight home was supposed to be last night at 7:30. Thanks to the Winter PAX (whatever that is), I’m here until Friday at 1:30pm. Not only is this rather inconvenient on all fronts, it’s creating some seriously difficult temptation. I want to go shopping at book stores and yarn stores. I want to go eat all the delicious foods. But my budget for February is tight. Super tight. And after January’s epic fail, I’m determined to get back on track.

So here I am, in my hotel room, reading books & watching the olympics, trying to not spend any money that isn’t completely necessary.

Thank goodness I was smart enough to bring 2 books and rent 2 movies from iTunes before I left!

How are you surviving the Winter PAX?

Penny wise and Pound(cake) Foolish

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted. Why? Health stuff. I won’t bore you by complaining about it here. But it’s been pretty emotionally debilitating, so I have been spending my nights watching too much Scandal and eating my feelings.

Today, I did both something positive for my budget and something negative.

The Positive!

I maintenanced my vaccum cleaner. Thrilling, no? I really wanted a new one, but then thought that would be incredibly wasteful. So I took it apart, cleaned all the filters and hoses, de-haired the roller-brush thing, and put in back together. All it cost was 1 hour of my time.

The Negative. 😦

I spent. And spent. First, I bought replacement parts for the vaccum. Though $30 for parts is better than $150 for a new one, it was still an unplanned and unbudgeted expense. Then, I bought flowers for Valentines for my best friend (it’s a 10 year long tradition that I refuse to give up on). It was (of course) unbudgeted. How do I forget every year that I do this? Anyway, I have added it to my irregular expense account. So now, I set aside $5/month. Then, I ordered new glasses. A budgeted expense, but a painful and expensive one. But my eyes need it. And then, I went to Target and bought a bunch of stuff that I needed but hadn’t budgeted for as well as somethings I did not need but bought anyway. I did go in with a list to minimize extraneous purchases. But that candle and box of Luna bars where NOT on the list…

The lesson I learned is never shop (or let yourself anywhere near your credit card) when living in pity party land. The result are spending spurts that put dents in the budget.

What are your spending triggers? What do you splurge on at Target? How do you stop yourself for pity-shopping? (No really. Tell me. I clearly need help.)

Who is “Dow Jones”, and what the heck is he doing with my money?

I have been in “aggressive debt repayment” mode for just over one year. And during this time, I have read a fair amount of posts about personal finance. However, every time I see one about investing, I skip it. I feel like my spending and debt need to be better controlled before I can consider staring down the barrel of investing strategies. Some may argue that is foolish, since it’s information I’ll need eventually. But I respectfully disagree. My brain can’t work on effectively creating good spending habits while also trying to understand the minutia that is the stock market. Or so I thought.

I just happened upon this post over at Narrow Bridge Finance. It was like a light going on! My problem isn’t with learning about investing. It’s about investment writing. NBF just explained to me the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And I understood it. I didn’t fall asleep. I didn’t get distracted. I was focused the whole time because Derek is a really good writer! 

Dear Derek,

Please write an investment book for people like me who glaze over at the mere mention of the work “dividend”.

Sincerely,

WillKnitForBooks

Another LearnVest Gem

LearnVest has done it again! They have written another article that makes me feel motivated and like my financial situation is not as bleak as I think it is. They also managed to do so while pointing out that much of my money problems stem from toxic money thoughts.

I am pretty certain I have heard myself utter all of these at some point. Even the one about paying for school.

Time to reframe some thinking!

Hives! Hives! I have burned your bridges!

Fun Fact! (Actually, Fun Rant!) I have an autoimmune disorder. My body attacked my thyroid, and now it under functions. It’s slowly on it’s way to not functioning at all. The great part of this process is all the symptoms that pop up out of nowhere that doctor’s keep telling me A.) I’m imagining or B.) are part of said autoimmune disorder and are fundamentally things I have to learn to live with. It’s super fun…..

Today, the new symptom of the week is hives. I had a bad bout of them last spring, which lead to my initial diagnosis as hypothyroidic. They resolved 3 months later, after trying almost every drug in the book. My doctor and I attributed it to the thyroid medication I started. It was a welcomed relief to shave my legs again.

Welp. They came back. With a vengeance.  I have never been this itchy in my life. EVER.

Having hives makes me feel pretty desperate. Desperate for a quick fix. Desperate for resolution. Desperate for a way of understanding what my body is trying to tell me so that I can understand what it needs to heal. This typically leads me through a few phases.

  1. The phase where I give modern medicine a shot in hell.
  2. The phase where, becoming disillusioned with modern medicine’s inability to fix me, I turn to integrative medicine.
  3. The phase where the sheer cost of integrative medicine becomes so overwhelming, I have panic attacks (and my hives get worse).
  4. The phase where I decide I can do it myself, and start researching DIY integrative fixes to my problem on the internet, including dietary changes.
  5. The phase where I take on some monumental very strict dietary change. And it lasts about 3 days.
  6. The phase where I give up and accept that I’ll be itchy for ever. Then, I eat a donut.

These phases are pretty cyclic, though the speed of the cycle varies. I’ve cycled through all of them in one day (like today!). I’ve also taken a month to get there. The lesson I learn every time is that my health problems are expensive, financially and emotionally. The traditional doctors aren’t free. The integrative doctor’s aren’t covered by insurance. The searching and living in the unknown is stressful, which makes the symptoms worse! Everything has an upfront cost that I can’t pay because every last dime I have has been funneled to debt repayment. My debt is now the thing standing between me and fighting chance of not itching. Those gourmet donuts every weekend aren’t sounding quite so appealing anymore….

So it’s time to tell the cycle to go suck an egg. It’s time for life style changes. Big ones. But not to be implemented immediately. Nor all at once. But rather change to be taken one step at a time in an effort to find balance. Physical balance. Hormonal balance. Emotional balance. Financial balance. There has to be a way. So I’ve just got to find it!

This may all sound defeatist and sad and pathetic. But as I sit here trying to distract myself from the incessant pulse of itchy flesh right between my shoulder blades and I try to figure out how I might be able to pull off $3,000 worth of blood work and $1,000 worth of supplements from the latest snake-oil purveyor, I realize that my situation will never change. This is my life now. It’s not what I intended. It’s what I was dealt. And it’s not changing. So I have to face facts and learn to deal. It’s tough love, at it’s finest.

Ok. Rant over. Back to work!

Debt Repayment, I love you. But you’re bringing me down.

Listen to this while reading:

I was gifted some money for Christmas (thank you, family!). Being a tried and true and dedicated debt repay-er, I earmarked every dollar to my top priority CC. And yesterday, the checks cleared, and money was sent to the CC company. This morning, I checked my balance, and it was lower (as expected). But instead of feeling joy and exuberance and motivation to continue to kick debt’s ass, I felt bummed. Because the balance is still super high.

This is the part of debt repayment that sucks the most. You make a big stride. But it’s still not even close to what it needs to be. And you’ve given up manicures and new shoes and book binges for so long that you begin to not even recognize yourself. And you think, “will this ever end????”

That’s where I’m at today.