Nearly three months into the year and I’m really happy with how my budgeting is going.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s certainly not perfect, and I’m definitely not completely “living on last month’s income” as YNAB instructs. But I’m getting there.
The big difference? I’m planning for the future. I’ve prioritized setting aside money each month for my big annual bills, like property taxes and insurance bills. So even though I feel like I’m still spending too much (and I am), my account balances are growing in preparation for those upcoming bills. So I’m focusing on the positives and figuring out better ways to continue my planning ahead. It’s really a great feeling. Of course, when those big bills come and I have to make those large payments and see the account balances plummet again, it will be a sad moment, but one I’ve prepared for.
For me, a big change has been that I have to be very careful about my immediate spending. Instant gratification is awesome. And online shopping is easy. Sales sites are tempting. The little things do add up, and they add up quickly.
One thing I need to do that I haven’t been is to specifically set aside some fun money each month. Money that can be spent on whatever I want. If I decide I want to buy a song on iTunes or a clown punching bag for the office (it was a discussion this week), if the fun money is there, I can buy it. Oddly enough, I spend more time debating a purchase that’s under $5 than I do a $20 purchase. I need to figure that one out. I guess I’ve spent so much time worrying about the little things that I’ve stopped focusing on the big picture.
As the weather starts to get nicer (though we had snow flurries to celebrate the beginning of spring), I’m spending more time outside and realizing that I need to be putting some money into my house. There are a number of projects that have been on my list since I bought my house five years ago that I still haven’t gotten to. It’s well past time. Some of them are going to be a bit expensive, others are just going to take a bit of work on my part but hopefully not too much money. Either way, it’s time to start setting aside money for home improvements and get moving on it.
All in all, I’m really pleased with my budgeting. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a work in progress and it’s really going well. Budgeting is really about planning ahead and rolling with the punches.
How do you feel about your budget? Does it make you happy or does it fill you with dread? Do you feel like you’re making progress in your financial goals, whether that be saving for a specific purchase or paying off your debt? Whatever you do, don’t let the negative feelings creep in. Keep plugging away and keep working at it. Every dollar you save gets you one dollar closer to your goal.