03 January 2013

budget's not a bad word

One of my friends texted yesterday and asked what I was up to.  I sent her this picture.

While the kids played Sorry and watched TV and played video games for too long, I spent a good portion of James' work day in our room yesterday tweaking our 2013 budget and creating our 2013 binder.  I entered the majority of our 2012 tax info into our handy dandy spreadsheet, too.

Oh, yeah.  And I finally compared what I SPENT on a little happy to what I brought in.  It'll come as no surprise to you that the small business that I ran for two months in 2012 didn't turn a profit.  But here's the cool thing:  it wasn't a washout.  I was SHOCKED when I added up all of the invoices, and so grateful.  I have lots and lots of room for improvement, but once I got over the fact that a profit didn't magically appear on the spreadsheet, I was really proud of what we accomplished in just a couple of months!  I've learned a lot, but I have a long way to go, I know.  And yes, I'm enjoying a few more days of vacation before I turn the press on again and break out the Silhouette.  :)

I've talked here before about our previous organization and budgeting issues.  Friends, I hear a lot of y'all talking about needing to be more organized and needing a budget.  May I speak frankly?  A budget and an organization system are MUSTS if you want to be in control of your money.  Trust me, this comes from someone who had no clue about money until just a few years ago.  I used to think "budget" was an obscene word, because I always related "budget" with "it's not IN the budget."  That's not necessarily what budget means.  We started budgeting as part of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, and that made an immediate difference in our finances.  It was like a whole new world--instead of spending until we decided to pay bills, we spent everything on paper before it even hit the bank, and determined HOW MUCH we would spend on everything.  To start, I had to go back over months and months and track how much we spent on groceries, gas, restaurants, clothes, etc...that was eye-opening.  I hate to admit that I couldn't have told you how much we brought in each month, much less how much our basic bills were.  Honestly, we got paid and we shopped hard and when we felt like we'd spent "enough" we'd pay bills.  Yeah, great plan.  Trust me, bill paying was a day of reckoning at our house that was a negative experience for YEARS.  I haven't missed that one bit.  Until we put it all on paper, I couldn't have told you what came out of our bank account automatically, when the gym took out their part or how much, how much we paid for insurance, anything.

Budget doesn't mean not having money, friends--it means that you know what's coming in, what's going out, and when.  A budget puts you in control, if you do it right.  And it's not nearly as hard as it sounds, if both partners are ready to work together.  This really isn't a commercial for Dave Ramsey, but his wisdom changed our lives.  And not to be overdramatic, but he changed our kids' lives, too, y'all--we're not rich, but we're not poor, either--and we don't spend all of our time worrying about money or fighting over it.  Check out his website, there are tons of free downloads and great articles to read.  And if you want to spend $20, buy this great book to get started (although most of y'all are tenacious enough to get started using the free info from his website):


Hmm...not where I thought this post was going, but I guess I needed to tell y'all about budgeting.  :)

So, here's our 2013 binder, that's tweaked a bit from the 2012 binder, which is way better than the 2011 binder was...every year it gets easier, y'all.  That spiral on top is a tweak, too.  We do our budget by our paychecks, so we have 1st of the month bills and middle of the month bills.  I used to print out the sheets and keep them in the binder, but what I found was that I wanted to make notes, etc. and sometimes checks didn't clear during the 2 weeks of the current budget and I needed to carry stuff over...so I started taping or stapling the budget sheets into the spiral notebook on the left hand side, and on the right hand side I make notes as we go through the two weeks so I know what checks are out, etc.  I also paperclip bills to the correct budget sheet, which helps me keep track of stuff like car registration, medical bills, etc. until I pay them.  Once I pay them they go into the binder, but I've found that keeping everything in one place means I don't accidentally forget bills.

Now, it doesn't mean I don't lose checks on my desk sometimes...I may have paid rent two weeks late a few months ago because I had the check ready to go in an envelope several days early...and then laid a stack of paper on top of it.  :/  Yep, I try to be organized but I still can find ways to screw it up.

I was sweating the 2012 binder--it's been pretty full for a couple of months.  But, it looks like it's gonna hold everything...fingers crossed James' 2012 invoices will fit in there.  :)  This binder is what I use to put together our tax spreadsheet, so I've learned over the past few years that the better I organize our binder as I go, the quicker it is to get organized for the accountant.  Again, that used to be a really unpleasant few days as we scrambled to remember what we bought, if we got contacts, where our medical bills went...we just weren't organized.  It's a lesson we've learned over and over...we have to have a plan for our finances, and stick to the plan...and we have to take the time to stay organized as we go.  Every bill gets paid and then goes into the binder, period.  For a system to work, you have to work at it.  I'm sure there's a cute saying...but I'm still working on my first cup of coffee.

So there it is.  My Christmas tree is still up, but we have a budget planned through June.  (Sooo looking forward to the daycare raise we'll be getting!)  We're ready for 2013 and our 2012 is just about wrapped up.  What's next for us?  More of the same.  :)  We hope to take our kids on a pretty amazing trip before the 2013-14 school year, so now we have to find that $$.  I'm not gonna lie, sometimes I miss our Discover card.  :)  But I don't miss the stomachaches and guilt and regrets!

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