"B" is for "Budget"
I want to feel more financially secure. I'll be honest and say I haven't sat down to do a budget after my divorce, I think mainly because my brain was barely functioning as it was. Then, a few months ago my computer class instructor assigned us to make a budget in Excel so we could practice formulas, etc. She wanted it to be a "REAL" budget. I didn't want to do mine. I didn't want to see how poor I was, I suppose. Big-D let me use his.
However, one of my goals this year has been to become more financially "aware" so that perhaps I can become more financially "stable". Besides, I've been wanting a new vehicle for so long. The one I have is now 13 years old. I am grateful that it still runs and gets me where I need to go. But I am tired of expensive/unpredictable maintenance issues. And I think any road trips are out this year.
That being said, I finally decided to sit down and come face to face with my money. After all, I argued, it can't be THAT bad, right? I mean, I've already cut the TV/Dish service. I can count on 1 hand how many times we ate out at a restaurant as a family this entire past year. We are blessed (?) to qualify for reduced lunches at my kids' schools. I don't work far from home so our fuel expenses aren't nearly as bad as they could be. Nevertheless, here are my findings.
I have $16 left at the end of each month, and that doesn't account for ANY other expenses such as prescriptions, unplanned Dr. visits, school activities (science fairs, field trip, class fees, etc.), birthdays, haircuts, clothes/shoes, oil changes, annual car registration and other car maintenance, entertainment, or anything else that I might not have thought of. I know that crying doesn't help, nevertheless I can't seem to stop.
I have thought about what to cut out, cuz things are only going to get worse. I have increased the amount I contribute to my Flex Spending so I can use pre-tax dollars to pay for my middle child's braces. I know that is going to cost more than $16 a month. I simply refuse to cut out my tithes and offerings; it's not even up for discussion. I debated cutting my internet. However -- I am in school and all of my classes are ONLINE. Not to mention my children often use the internet for homework. In fact, last year I even had to upgrade to a faster high-speed connection just to support my online class requirements. I thought about cutting our cell phones. However, as a single mom I can't tell you how important it is for me to have that connection with my kids. I have however, dropped our shared minutes plan from 1400 a month to 700. So, we'll be doing a lot more texting/emailing from our phones. Sorry, if you don't have verizon or are not in my top 10, I'll have to text you. I considered cutting my home phone. But what about when just the two younger ones are home after school? What if they have to call me? or worse -- 911? Can't cut the power or the gas or the water/sewer/garbage service. I don't live in a fancy place and my rent for the dumpy-dilapidated house I *do* live in is less than I can find for a 3 bedroom apartment. I know, cuz I've been looking.
Big-D suggested perhaps I move to a trailer park to save money! Could I do that? I'm not sure just yet. I guess I'd have to eat a lot of humble pie first. And I am not trying to put down mobile homes or anything. I am just picturing living verrrrrry close to the next home and lack of privacy, and of course the stigma associated with it. I mean, my parents' first home was a single wide, but it was on their own land and not in a park. It's just that in my experience in real estate, when it comes to mobile homes there is one thing I have noticed... Once people move in, they never seem to move out. Big-D does point out, however, that I'd probably have a lot of good bloggy-finds at the trailer park. (I am all of a sudden picturing Joy from "My Name is Earl." Joy: Yeah, and I'll be butt naked behind the trailer waiting for my hot tub.)
Anyway, I already skip my meds until I absolutely need them so I am not having to pay for refills each month. I try to stay home to save on gas. This past year I cut my grocery bill in half from the previous year. I am just not sure I can cut any more there. I have considered not going to my chiropractor each month. That'd save $20. I have thought about getting a second job. But I can't quite figure out when. I mean, I already work 1 full time job and then I have 3/4 time school and of course three kids. My gym membership was paid in full for two whole years last Feb. It was a gift to myself with my tax return money. So, I can't cut that out. The dumb thing is, with school I barely have time to go to the gym. I guess what I am saying is if I can hardly find the time for an hour or two a day at the gym, where am I going to find time to work a second job?
The thought then occurred to me that perhaps I should look for a different primary job. But I have no degree yet. And my experience in other fields are very much in the past or non-existent all together. Nonetheless, I started looking. And I am sure none of you will find this the least bit surprising... but there aren't many jobs out there. And the ones that are, I am not qualified to do. And the ones that I am qualified to do, do not pay even close to what I am already making.
I considered moving home. The cost of living is a little less, but the job market is worse than here. Plus, my kids say that if I move, they will not come with me; their lives are here.
The trailer park is starting to look good right about now...