Between the craziness of the holidays, the craziness of having a new house, and my own, general craziness, finances have gotten out of hand.
We’re not running around throwing money in the air — usually we’re throwing it at fast food windows or plumbers or other fun things — but I want us to get on a firm plan for savings. We need a car repairs/replacement fund and we need an emergency fund.
You know, the little things.
Unfortunately, things will be somewhat muddled until the dreaded tax bill is settled. The replacement 1099 is winging its way to me via USPS. Once that arrives, I can check my numbers and then send off both returns (S-corp and personal). But that still puts our tax return out somewhere in April. Blech.
Still, it’s time to put our house in order — and I’m not just talking about home repairs.
So, it’s back to basics.
We’re starting small — mainly because previous, bigger efforts to organize have sputtered and died. So: small, sustainable steps.
For example, some people swear by Mint and Quicken. I’ve tried both, and I just can’t keep up with them. So, instead I’m going truly old school: envelopes.
I marked five envelopes for our main categories of spending: groceries, car expenses, dining out (including fast food), snacks and Magic the Gathering. We stick our receipts in those at the end of each day, and we’ll tally it all up at the end of the month.
Some of the numbers will probably shock us, but mainly it will give us a better idea of where our money is going.
Once we know that, we can start nudging our spending into more appropriate amounts. And, next month, I want us to actually keep a running tally on the back of each envelope. That will help us stay more aware of our spending throughout the month.
Ideally, yes, we’d do both this month. I am going to try to tally things up as we go. But I’m trying to keep our goals small and achievable because we depressives are fantastic at setting ourselves up for failure… and then flogging ourselves for our shortcomings.
In the meantime, Tim and I will each set a (very) small goal for ourselves for the week. I figure if we start with just one week, it will seem less onerous.
So, this week, Tim and I will resolve to always bring drinks with us to Magic events. This may mean that we sometimes have to stop by the grocery store on the way to a tournament — though I’ll look into stocking up — but it’s still better than paying $1 a pop (so to speak) when we need to wet our whistles.
It’s a little embarrassing to have to start so small, but I would rather have sustainable growth than spurts of achievement followed by embarrassing lapses.
In other words, we’re going back to basics — just… slowly.