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Archive for April, 2013

Kids, Cancer and Other Unknowns

April 1st, 2013 at 06:48 pm

Wow! Tracking spending has really opened my eyes to how much it costs to live and where the money goes. We are in about the third month of this and it is going very well, except that I have had a couple of realizations of which I was never aware when I was spending like a drunken sailor:

1) When it comes to my kids, I can really overspend. For instance, I just returned from a weekend of moving our oldest son from Nashville to KC. He is 30 years old but I ended up buying him about $600 worth of decor items for his new apartment. His bday is coming up in May and I said I would buy him more decor items then. I have decided, though, that I have spent enough and I am going to limit him to $100 more for his bday. It will be hard to do that because I want him to live in beautiful surroundings, but he will have to buy some of that stuff if he wants it.

2) LIFE HAPPENS (good things). I am realizing the number of bdays, weddings, graduations that happen in our lives and how expensive they really are. Except for giving to family, bday gifts are really kind of silly in that at our ages, 54 and 55, all of our friends really have what they need and want and my adding yet another small bday gift to their lives doesn't really do all that much. I HAD budgeted $100 a month for gifts. Boy was I ever wrong!!! It really should be 3-4 times that!!

3) LIFE HAPPENS (bad things). A couple of weeks ago we learned that one of hubby's old college buddies has stage 4 liver cancer. This is, of course, terrible news but it also means we plan to fly to Florida in May to visit with this friend. That is an unexpected couple of flights, meals out, etc. we did not anticipate. That could be $1000 even if we economize. Ouch!!

UPSIDE! There is an upside to the above. In the past when I was living in the "financial haze" I would have been spending lots on myself AND spending on the unexpected items without really realizing how much I was spending. I would have just thrown it all on the charge card and then sweated bullets the next month to pay it all off.

Now, I have been spending almost nothing on myself because I really realize how much these "extras" are costing. Also, we no longer use a charge card at all so I don't have the monthly fear of looking at and paying that bill. That feels very good.

I am curious if these EXTRAS do subside in a few months. In our defense, we have had lots of extra expenses with our younger son's marriage, our older son's move to KC and our friend's unfortunate diagnosis. Hopefully, this summer we will see a return to more "normal" spending. OR maybe it is an ILLUSION that spending is ever normal!

Even with the above, we HAVE been meeting our monthly budget/savings goals. When we have an unexpected expense I pull the funds from one of the other categories we didn't spend in that month. For example, I have $200 a month in clothing budget and we may pull needed funds from that category. It is called a zero balanced budget and keeps us from spending more than we had budgeted for.

Thank you for listening. This process is helping me a lot.