And now, on with the first post for 2014. Enjoy!
Budgets are for newbies. When you are just starting to use a budget, it helps you see more clearly. You write down things you may otherwise forget. All of this helps you when you feel overwhelmed. Budgets are good for people who are just getting to know their personal finances.
But over time, you get used to the routine activities of managing your money: pay bills first, keep spending down, pump up your savings account. Watch out for those irregular expenses like taxes in April, gift money for Christmas, and paying the car insurance. Yaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwn. Trust me, once you’ve done this for a couple of months, you’ll be able to do it in your sleep.
Now – three years after my financial turnaround – I have a very different approach to budgeting. Instead of doing a budget at the beginning of the month, I do something else. Our “budget” is no longer a budget but rather a spending report. I collect all receipts throughout the month (my husband does the same for me) and at the end of the month, I total them.
Our “budget”/spending report has only three categories so it’s really straightforward and easy to use. ONE, I write down big purchases separately – like when we bought him that cool winter jacket or when we bought a door. (Remember: buying cheap stuff ends up expensive!) TWO, I write down gas and car expenses separately. And THREE, everything else goes into the “daily spending” category, which includes groceries, coffees, and miscelanious items like lightbulbs, socks, and just little stuff like that.
I like that better than a budget because while a budget is just a plan, this is actually real data. Which means it’s 100% accurate.
Of course, the reason we can make this work without a budget is because we’ve made a habit to watch our spending pretty carefully. (I even got over the wholemy-husband-spends-too-much-money thing.) Thanks to the everyday little choices that we make that save us money, we are able to make one bigger purchase each month without worrying whether we can afford it or not.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS: NO RESOLUTIONS
I hate plans. After all, it’s the results that matter, not how you get there. Which is why I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions. That would require planning! And how can I plan for something I’ve never done before?
For example, if I was doing New Year’s resolutions, one of them would be to take good care of my daughter. Awesome! But how do I “plan” for that since I will be a first-time mom and I don’t know anything about taking care of a baby? (I never had a chance to be around babies when I was little. Or older. Or ever! I’m a single child – no siblings – and all my cousins live far far away.)
For me, things never go according to plan. I planned to attract more readers to my blog by writing The Formula for Getting Rich. Instead, one of my most popular posts apparently is How to plan a wedding in 3 months. Go figure.
Another New Year’s resolution could have been, I’d like my husband and I to earn more money. That’s too vague for a resolution, so let’s narrow it down.
One possible way to achieve that would be for me to start teaching dance again, but I have no idea how that’s gonna work out with a baby in the house. And what about when I go back to work once the baby is 6 months? Will I be able to handle all this? I mean, last year it was hard enough that I couldn’t spend much time with my husband because he works in shifts and our schedules don’t match. And now we’re throwing a baby in the picture? Makes me dizzy just thinking about it.
We also want to explore some other ways to make more money which will, again, suck out time. Will we have that time? Will we be able to handle not seeing each other? Wouldn’t that feel weird, especially now that we’ll have a child and we’re both crazy about spedinging time with her, together?
I would also like to start working out so I can get back in the shape I was before getting pregnant. I haven’t put on much weight – about 10 kilos (20 pounds) – but I feel I’ve lost muscle tone. But I’m not going to make a plan about getting in shape. I’m going to have this as a goal, and try different approaches – see what works best. Like, I could work out at home, or I could do running outside, or I could go to a gym. Who knows! It’s the results that matter, not how you get there.
MY HUSBAND IS MY ROCK
You know, I tend to get those freak-out episodes where I freak out about stuff that hasn’t happened yet. Yeah. I want to have all the answers right now. So I run different scenarios in my head, trying to be prepared for each possible situation.
Which is impossible.
That’s where my husband comes in. He tells me that everything’s going to be okay and that things have a way of working themselves out. I used to dismiss that kind of talk because, well, how could he know? And you can’t just sit around doing nothing and hope for things to “work themselves out,” can you?
But actually, he’s right. You just need to have faith and keep an optimistic outlook on life, trust in yourself and your abilities. Be brave! Try new ways towards your goal if the way you’ve taken so far isn’t working. I guess sometimes, we just need a little reassurance.
So plans? Resolutions? Budgets? Not for me, thanks. I’m fine with just setting a goal and then going with the flow.
Because in nature, the species with the best chance of survival are actually NOT the strongest or the fastest.
It’s those who can adapt.