Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Guess what? Money doesn't grow on trees.

I have the excuses:

  1. I have way less "free" time (with "free" meaning without Mateo around) than I had before.

  2. I'm tired.

  3. As long as checks aren't bouncing, we're good.

  4. I can't go through the piles of receipts, I just can't, I can't.

Well, it's finally time to come to the realization that we are, in fact, in debt. And I need to get on the ball and get us rolling on a budget again. I mean, every one's in debt, right? It's nothing to be ashamed of. How else would we have a condo? Or put Mateo in daycare? And with how the economy is today, we have no choice but to keep the condo, which means Mateo has to be in daycare.

When I was much, much younger, I was much, much wiser with my money. I think it's because I never had to consider another person, or two people plus two cats, in my money situation. I saved money. Hoarded money. And when I moved in with my husband, he was footing a lot of the bills and I was contributing when I could. We hardly went out. We hardly ate out. We watched every penny, dime, dust bunny, and we did as best we could.

When I got my corporate job, right out of college, I went a little nuts on buying stuff. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I got on this really odd Beanie Baby kick along with Boyds bears and random Laurel Burch cat things. I think it was my midlife crisis come early because I spent so many years not spending and not having money, and now, all of a sudden, I felt like the richest person on earth!

At some point I realized we were getting no where fast. I put my husband and I on a budget, socked away a lot of money for, well, something unknown, and we were doing really well. We still went out and had fun, but we weren't being excessive.

Then we bought our condo, and a huge chunk of our savings and our monthly money simply....vanished. We were still doing okay, nothing really to worry about, following a strict budget, and managing some fun here and there.

And then, the biggest cost of our life showed up: our son. When I got pregnant, I was immensely tired all the time and lacked any sort of motivation to do anything relatively productive except stuff food down my throat. I spent many hours sitting on the couch, dozing off, incubating my wee one while our two cats snuggled up against my big body.

This time in my life, I can honestly say, was when it all when to poo. My husband started fretting over the piles and piles of receipts I wasn't doing a thing with and requested I show him how Quicken works. I did, but then he never really took over the money duty. So I did what I could when I could muster the brain power and energy (because you all know it takes a lot of energy to tippity type numbers into accounting software, puleeze), I would go through the receipts, pay the bills, and make sure we weren't missing anything and had enough money.

When I actually had Mateo, I would deal with the money as I could, usually when he was passed out, sleeping his new life away. It was hard to do anything for any length of time, but I managed.

Then I went back to work, and it took me months and months to get into any sort of routine. I would have to say that it's taken me little less than year. I look back on the past year and feel like it was the most chaotic year of my life; trying to manage work, life, baby turning slowly into toddler, husband, family, friends, and anything I just wanted to do for myself (write, read, draw, be creative - some how, some way, however I could manage) was hard. Very hard. Like lose your brain hard.

Luckily I didn't lose my brain, although I cracked a few times.

Now that I've got things settled with Mateo and chores and work and I feel like I might possibly be accomplishing something besides raising the happiest little goofball on earth, I have realized the one thing I haven't done is taken a good look at our finances, created a budget that will allow us to pay off credit card debt, pay our mortgage, utilities and other bills, plus allow us to buy clothes when needed (and I'm not talking about Mateo, that boy will ALWAYS have clothes, even if I have to run around in holey shirts for the rest of my life), do some fun extra things here and there, and, most importantly, eat.

After going through the huge pile of receipts, and not even looking at the lovely breakdown of where our money has gone courtesy of Quicken, I have realized this: We eat way too much. WAY TOO MUCH. Not just groceries, which has seriously gotten out of hand, but eating out due to weird situations or late nights. I'm afraid to figure out how much we spend on food per month because I know half of that is completely unnecessary.

While this may seems stupid to most, I'm buying a book on budgeting to help me get my head on straight, figure out how to pay debt and save, while still living a life we all will be happy with.

So today, July 29, 2008, is the day I realized money doesn't grow on trees. Again. Because I was raised to know this fact. And I did know it once upon a time. But somewhere, when I lost a bit of myself and my sanity when I began incubating my wee one, I lost the realization that some day, if we keep it up, we might not be as okay financially as we are now.

And yes, dear sis, I did look into the Utah school thing, and yes, I will be figuring that into everything as well because I'll be darned if my Mateo doesn't go to Harvard too.

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