Three months of confusion
As I mentioned in my last post, we had more money than we should’ve at the end of this financial month.
The month before that I failed to notice that Social Security sent us two payments. I saw the amount while scrolling through transactions, and I guess when I saw it again I thought my eyes had just accidentally skipped back up the page. I assume, anyway.
Then the month before that we also had more money than expected. There were a few factors that caused us to spend less, but later I realized the main issue was a duplicate transaction. Home repair necessitated a $937 withdrawal from savings. I somehow managed to do it twice.
Mixed through all that has been an increasing difficulty keeping up with day-to-day expenses.
Back when we first got the Sapphire card, I transferred money as soon we charged purchases. At worst, I went through at the end of the day and made the appropriate transfers. Lately, I’ve been lucky to do it every other day. In fact, I’ve been averaging about every third day. Yikes.
I’m doing a bit better the past week, but if it doesn’t get back to normal soon, I’ll need to switch us back to debit. Even if it means missing out on those sweet, sweet rewards points.
In other words, the last few months have made me feel utterly out of control with our money. We’re hanging in there, but by the skin of our teeth. Actually, the skin of the skin.
The only reason I’m not freaking out more is that so far things have gone our way.
A couple of months ago I did the math and determined we’d have just barely enough to pay the $12,400 for Tim’s dentures. I thought we might even have to take $300 to $500 out of the emergency fund. We’ll actually have about $3,000 left over — barring any more of life’s little surprises.
That’s a pretty big boon — but it’s also a pretty scary disconnect between projection and reality.
Granted, I thought we’d be paying for them on September 8th, whereas it looks like he’ll finally be getting those suckers on October 20th (please, [deity]). And that lag meant a few things coming in that I hadn’t accounted for: some ad revenue, a sponsored post, some book income, the refund on my FinCon ticket (from winning the Financial Health essay contest), a particularly large month of saved savings and a bit of overtime.
Even so, my estimate was way off, which makes me very nervous. I long ago accepted that our health problems make expenses difficult to plan for. But those weren’t even being taken into account. I just got it very, very wrong.
I can do better
There’s this recurring guilt/frustration/embarrassment of being a PF blogger who’s so utterly out of whack with/control of her finances. I know I should do better.
Then again, I’m a very strong advocate against using the would “should.” And a recurring theme on this blog is accepting a certain amount of gloriously imperfect personal finance.
So for now I’m just going to ride it out through the end of the year. I’ll do my best, but I’m not going to make any more predictionssumptions because being so wrong is, frankly, exhausting.
Assuming things keep going confusingly positively, I’ll try to make the best of how utterly lost I am. It means we may be in a good enough place at the end of the year (especially if, as usual, I get a bonus) to max out our IRA. We might even be able to open a SEP — especially because Mom’s going to be sending us around $1,600 at the end of the year.*
Or more things will implode financially, and I’ll have to make plans accordingly. At this point, who the hell knows?
I’m just going to wait for it to be late December. At that point, I’ll know if I’m getting a bonus, if I’m getting a raise and where our bank accounts stand. At that point, I can prioritize and budget for the new year. (I’d dearly love to have us maxing out a SEP by age 40.)
And hey, maybe I’ll actually stay on top of things in 2017. Dare to dream.
Have you guys gone through periods where you can’t reconcile reality with your projections? (Hopefully, in a good way.)
*Her half of my dad’s pension, which started back in April. She’s passing it along to me for two reasons. 1) She figures it’s like awarding me damages for the pain and suffering he caused. 2) She likes that in some small way he’ll be unwittingly/unwillingly helping me have a good life.