Nobody likes that dreadful “B” word: budget. It’s no fun, and needing one can imply carelessness and irresponsibility. We’re adults so we’re obviously responsible, right? Well, friends, I’ll confess that I am a shopaholic. We have a space issue where we live and on more than one occasion, I have drained the bank account with my“just for funsies” purchases.
I have blamed everything from clinging to hold habits from my single days to rebelling against the way I was raised. The bottom line is that I impulse buy and the instant gratification of getting something new is my drug. Do I love all of my purchases? Most of the time, yes, they bring me joy (in reference to the konmari method). Do my child and I need any more clothes? She definitely does not. I guess I could look for some pants that fit, but I could also just keep up with leg shaving and wear bandage dresses and skirts.
The option of online shopping is terrible for someone like me. It’s fairly easy to keep me out of a store and I’ve gotten better about trolling some websites on a regular basis, but to stay offline and not be able to check all the sales going on in various Facebook groups is really hard for me. Yes, I could turn off the notifications, but then I’d miss out on things. I know, it’s warped thinking–that’s why I’ve started to follow a budget.
To get started, I printed out our bank statement for the last three months and made up a coding system with highlighters. There were categories like “necessities,” which included daycare, groceries, and the mortgage. Then there was “my fun spending” and “his fun spending.” At the time, in one month, I had spent nearly one thousand dollars on fun spending, mostly on clothes. Do I have a job that I need to dress up for? Yes, but my closet is already packed pretty tight, and I’d already done a Konmari-ish clean out and still had plenty to wear. His fun spending was closer to one hundred a month and it was mostly gas station purchases on drinks and snacks to and from work.
We had a few discussions (some heated) and came up with a reasonable amount that I could spend on fun stuff each month. I can break it down however I want, but if I go over, it comes out of the next month’s amount. Guess how I’m doing? Sadly, I’m already into next month’s spending and we’re barely halfway through through this month. This is by far, the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do in my life. Putting limits on myself and stopping to think if I really need or even really want what I’m buying is making me slow down to a pace I have probably never even thought at before. We both fly by the seat of our pants and oftentimes have fun doing it, but trying to slow down will have its benefits, too.
Thinking of all of the things that would be meaningful to do as a family or even planning for some what-ifs and college for our daughter – those things will have lasting impact. Clothes won’t. If you’re in the same boat I’m in, it’s worth it to sit down with those bank statements and see where money is really going every month. It’s scary how fast and how much we can spend, and it’s depressing to put limitations on yourself, but looking at the bigger picture makes me think it will be worth it. In the meantime, old habits die hard.