Monday, January 12, 2009

Mama Monday #47.1

Theme: Order

I've aware - as I'm sure you are - that my regularly scheduled posts seem to be coming later and later into each given day. Seems like life is taking over and this blog is being pushed down the list of Things To Do.

With this new year, I'm desperately trying to maintain some semblance of order. That, or create order where once some was lacking (or was completely nonexistent.) What with my registering for the abcte study course and exams (I did it! I registered and am on my way to teacher certification!) and the several hours of reading and studying I'll need to do each week for the next several months in order to pass said exams, not to mention my regular tutoring schedule (which seems to be filling up nicely) and just plain being a mom and wife (a mom and wife who tries to at least keep the dishes clean, the laundry done and the floors vacuumed, in addition to doing her part to maintain a generally happy family) - well... my (full time) unemployed self sure has a lot of things to employ into her ever busy life!

(Insert what seems to be, but really is completely not, a seamless and witty segue into the next topic of discussion. Something that, ideally, includes the word "order"... about money... and stuff...)

Last year at this time Hubby and I were all about paying off debt and only spending money we actually have (i.e. - no credit card purchases of any kind). And, for the most part, we did succeed in that department.

Sure, my springtime unemployment shocker did a number on us, not least of which was crushing my enthusiasm for keeping a weekly chart of monies coming in vs. monies spent (This is a state of emergency, people! I need to spend my time job searching, not recording data every time Hubby or I decides to buy a snack out of the vending machine! We no longer have the small change needed to make such purchases, anyway! Money calendar - be gone with you!). And we are certainly guilty of taking extra out of savings from time to time (read: at least once a month) to cover unforeseen but necessary expenditures (car repairs, our new health insurance plans, etc...). Then, of course, we shopped a good deal at Target, where Hubby has a store credit card. We shopped there to put off payments we couldn't make on the spot, but the balances were always paid off each month (until Christmas. {cough, cough, ahem}.) Plus the original plan was to pay more than minimum amounts to our credit cards each month. But, yeah - not so much. Minimum amounts rule!

Still. I say we did done good under the lousy given circumstances. You don't agree? Hmmm... So we'll agree to disagree, then...

But now? Since the start of 2009? I - yes I, the queen of not-ever-wanting-a-thing-and-definitely-never-wanting-to-spend-money-on-myself - have already purchased, on a store's credit card I just got, a few pairs of pants for myself (I need new pants, people! I held out as long as I could. And my small sized/petite self cannot for the life of her find too many opportunities in the real world to find such pants! Virtual shopping was the only way, I swear!) and, on my no interested credit card, the price of my abcte course and exams. But that's for my future! A better, more fulfilling future! That too, I argue, had to be done.

And, what is it? January 12th? Yeah. Oh well. We're starting the year out with a bang, I guess. At least it's a well dressed, career enhancing bang. Heh heh. 

Still. Our mortgage payments are going up this year. And, thanks to Christmas, our credit cards did end up getting used just a bit - enough to make minimum payments more than a little higher each month. And that "deferred" payment I was so proud of myself for making for a few Christmas gifts? Well, guess what, Slappy? I best be paying that off real soon too, or else the interest rate on those purchases will be unfathomably high. As for Target, like I said, after Christmas they, too, would love to see more of our money than ever before.

Hubby and I need, NEED to sit ourselves down and put our finances in order - as best we can. Where can we make sacrifices? (Uh, can anyone say "no multiple trips to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts each week?" Hubby?) Where can we cut costs? Where can we find extra (ha!) money? How can we achieve greater income while not fooling ourselves that doing so allows us to spend a bit more freely during that timeframe? 

Dude. I know. I know! Discipline! Hasn't anyone ever taught us financial discipline?! Uh.... kinda, I suppose. Yes... We, uh... we're just so ingrained to live our lives from week to week that if one week seems totally comfortable and great, well then... we have enough money to go out to dinner or buy a new treat of some sort, don't we?! Yes!.... oh, no. Nope. We really shouldn't have done that. Uh uh.

And that right there? That's all me. I'm the one who knows if a week feels really tight or is comfortably loose. I am the one who makes judgement calls that bonus treats can or can't be made at a given time. Then, two weeks later - I see it. Why'd we spend our money there when we need to spend our money here? That was dumb. I've learned my lesson.

Then - nope. Same thing happens again the next time. It's an endless trap. Cockiness leads to frivolous spending leads to financial worrying. Yuck. And double yuck.

So. There you have it. Hubby stops for coffee way more than he should (but it's only $4 or so each time! That's hardly anything! - Yeah, well it all ads up, ya know?) And I allow us to spend, every once in awhile, on bigger treats - either because one or the other of us is stressed, celebrating, or just plain nagging - that I later find out (again and again and again) was really not a good idea at all. (Hello?! Now how are we going to pay this bill?! Or this one?!) 

Yup. Looks like Hubby and I better order up a big ol' helping of GET A CLUE pie. And then, while we're at it, stop eating so much dang pie! Pie is hardly ever - if ever - necessary! We don't need no stinkin' pie... to eat!

Not that I want everyone out there restating or further pointing out the stupidness that Hubby and I have been living, but... if you do have any money saving tips or ways to scrimp or sacrifice without really feeling the loss so much... well, then... have at it! Today is National Delurking Day, after all. So what better reason to finally make yourself known to me than to inform me of some simple and painless ways to make finances more manageable and in order? 

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? 

(Oh, and by the way. I already know about Suze Orman and her free, downloadable book at Been there, done that. Now I just have to read - and use! - it!)

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