It turns out I’m human. I make mistakes. I don’t always practice what I preach around here.
After my talk with Suze Orman, I sat down and really looked at all of our accounts. It had been awhile since I really looked at the big picture.
I saw a pattern that was occurring that scared me. It made me hyperventilate a little. While we’re still debt-free except for the mortgage, we’ve been drawing on our savings account at twice the rate that we’ve been putting money into it.
And it’s been going on for awhile. And no, I’m NOT proud of it. It sickens me to think that we could so easily drain down our savings.
Whenever I find myself in a situation like this (which thankfully is not often), I stop and do some soul-searching. It’s important to find out the reasons for slipping so that we can get back on the right track.
I realized that I was flying solo. While I often stress that you need to be a team when it comes to personal finances, my husband and I weren’t really working as a team. I have had total control over our money and most of the decisions on how to spend it. While he’s been content with that, I’m not. I need a checks and balance system. I need him to know the state of our finances and to be a strong advocate for our long-term goals.
I got cocky when it came to our finances. After several years of careful budgeting, I decided I didn’t need to track every penny we spent. Well… guess what? It’s pretty easy to lose track of your money when you’re not paying attention. A friend of mine recently asked for advice on budget tracking software. I gave her a few ideas, but later I realized how ironic (and moronic!) it was that I was giving her that advice when I wasn’t following a budget myself. The irony of writing this blog was not lost on me, either.
I became addicted to bargain hunting. I spent a lot of time shopping for bargains – to stockpile food and toiletry items that were on sale and to prepare for our clothing needs for next winter. I told myself that it was okay because I was only spending $2 or $5 or $10 on something we would use in the future, but the truth is that I became addicted to the deals. But all those expenditures start adding up to a very low checking account balance.
I was living in the moment. I lost site of our long-term goals. I was more concerned with what cereal was on sale this week and where I could find the cheapest cuts of meat to add to our freezer than I was about our savings goals.
So I’ve given myself the ol’ kick in the seat of the pants. We cannot continue to spend like we’ve been or we’ll have nothing to show for our income.
My husband and I are going to have a date to talk about money. We’re going to have our very own “State of the Union” so to speak when it comes to our personal finances. We’re going to see where we are and to share our ideas of where we’d like to be. We are going to be on the same page and play for the same team. We’ll follow some of the advice in the book “Get Financially Naked” and we’ll make our personal finances a regular topic of discussion.
We will start tracking our spending again. It will probably be a very simple paper-pencil method to start, but it is better than nothing. We need to find the sources of the money bleeding so we can stop it.
I will be very careful about bargain hunting. In fact, I’ll budget for it. A line item that is designated for bargain hunting will allow me to save on things we need, while still keeping it at a responsible level.
I remind myself that running on the road to good personal financial health is a marathon, not a sprint. While we may stumble, it is the true winners who can pick themselves back up and keep going.