Black Friday, travel expenses, and Holiday shopping have me thinking about how I wish I would have planned better, financially, for this time of year. Not to mention that my son, husband and I all have birthdays in November and December. Oh, and our anniversary is in December too. That means, presents, flights (we live half way across the country from my part of the family), car registrations, anniversary celebrations (what’s that?), and birthday parties all have to be paid for, and I would rather not run up the credit card bills.
While I do try to be frugal, these expenses still add up. So, here comes the confessions part…..I didn’t work all of these costs into the budget. Not this year. I wish I could say that x amount of dollars from each paycheck goes towards a ‘Christmas Present’ fund or a ’emergency dog expense’ fund. I could have used that one a couple months ago when my dog needed surgery. No, my husband’s (and my small) paycheck get deposited directly into our checking account. At that point, I set some bills to be paid. Some come out automatically, and we are left with a number sitting in checking….apparently waiting to be spent. We have a cushion in savings that we rarely touch, and if we do, we replenish it with funds from the next paycheck. But, this time of year, I feel like we are playing ‘catch-up’ and we are doing much more borrowing from our cushion and less replenishing with our next paycheck. I would LOVE to get this under control with a great financial game plan for 2013. In fact, it is going to be my theme/resolution for 2013…get better control of our finances!
We are doing some things right. We have one modest car payment. We bought a house in a much lower price bracket than we qualified for, and our mortgage payment is actually lower than the rent we were paying. We buy many items used. I use coupons and shop sales for almost all of our groceries. We don’t buy furniture or big screen tv’s on credit. We pay our bills on time. But, If there is money in our account, we inevitably find some way to spend it. A soda at the gas station here, a chai tea latte there, and more recently, a trip to Lowes to get something for the house…it all adds up.
A few months ago, I made the classic list of all of our expenditures, and then lined that up with the money we bring in each month. I even went as far as taking out cash to pay for groceries, hubby’s lunches, and some spending money for each of us. It worked great. I just wasn’t diligent in keeping it going. I have done a bit of research and found this blog with an idea for a financial fast. We’re going to implement most of her ideas in January. I like the idea of starting off the year with a clean financial slate. Start fresh.
I’ll save my personal goals for our family budget for another day (since I haven’t quite completed my list yet!) Help me out. What should I implement in 2013 to become more financially responsible and get a really good hold on my family’s finances?