Thursday, July 31, 2014

August Project

The house (my "investment property" - a description that makes me laugh bitterly) has been refinanced, which frees up a bit of cash to put into reserves for repairs a few months down the road (and it sure does have some "deferred maintenance" issues). The refi was long overdue, but I'm now in that delusional "Whoo hoo, this will make my financial life all better!" mode. I need to snap out of it. I'm still earning over $20k less than I was earning before the Great Recession took down my employer and sent me and millions like me on a downwardly-mobile trajectory (that's a topic for another day.) While I am muddling along, my financial house is not in order.

I never had to live on a strict budget. I've always functioned on a sort of intuitive budget - my paychecks went into the bank, I put the max into a 401K, and just lived on the rest, without thinking too hard. (I don't have a 401K on this job, so now I have to budget to put what I can spare into an IRA.) The money to do what I needed to do was usually available. I'm a fairly low maintenance minimalist type in my old age and gave up recreational shopping years ago, so my lax approach to managing my finances worked for me. Not so much now - now, it's my paycheck that has become minimalist. Now, I can't do what I want to do on the modest paychecks plunking into my bank account every two weeks. I know I need better control over my money, and I need a budget.

I've been Kindle-borrowing books on frugal living, etc. for months now, looking for advice, inspiration, tools I could actually use, and finally stumbled upon The Four Week Financial Turnaround.

For me, budgeting is like counting calories - I know it's a good thing to do, a necessary part of achieving a weight loss goal, but I resist it at some core level of my personality. I feel very tired and depressed at the thought of tracking everything, it's boring and annoying and...gaaah. But somehow, this guy's approach seems less painful, and feels like something I can do. I read the entire book, start to finish, and really like the approach to getting organized and putting a budget system in place. I've been stashing the incoming bills in a folder on my desk, I've started organizing my financial information, and I'm inspired to get my financial shit together. I've picked August 1 as my start date.

So, July was the month I developed a personal yoga practice and made it part of my day. August will be the month I get my financial affairs in balance.


caroline aka FiberTribe said...

I've had to do the same thing. I've found YNAB (You Need a Budget) software very helpful. Rachael Herron (Yarn-a-go-go) put me on to it. You can read a short synopsis of the 4 guiding principles for free. If it's something you'd like, hit me up for an intro and I get a whopping $6 bucks and you get the same off the software. I think. Anyway, good luck with it. It has been easier than I expected though I was filled with dread at the outset. Now to tackle the insufficient inflow, eh? ack.

Catherine said...

I've heard great things about YNAB software! If I decide to go with it, I'll hit you up. The most painful part is gathering all the information and organizing it no matter what method you use, but going forward, that software looks really good!