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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Confessions of Self-Righteous Budgeter

Oh Dave Ramsey. How you haunt me.

Last time I posted about the Leipprandt family finances, I was embracing the brokeness and finding joy in the journey. That was September.

In October we got some not so exciting news about our health insurance premiums going up. As in UP. UP UP.

In November, for the first time since beginning this journey back in 2007, I realized that our outgo was going to be more than our income. Not by too terribly much, around $200 or so. Without cutting back our comfortable lifestyle (Tivo, eating out, spur-of-the-moment $2 Buck Chuck purchases) we were going to have a negative cash flow month. I did realize at the time that in the grand scheme of things, this was a rich person's predicament. A few small sacrifices and we'd make our budget without issue.

But you might also recall that I was 8 months pregnant in November. And I had an 18 month old. Who had a double ear infection. Who was not napping. Poor poor me.

It was too stressful, this budgeting thing, knowing that the numbers weren't going to add up the way I wanted them to. So I punted. I didn't pull cash out, we just used our debit cards. (No big deal right?) And then I didn't actualize the budget. (Why was I doing that anyway? It's not like there wasn't still money in the checking account.)

And November turned into December, then January and now February.

For months now we haven't been living on a budget. We've been swiping our debit card at will, secure in the knowledge that Chick-fil-A and Target can't possibly break the bank. Right?

We've been fortunate, the checking account hasn't been overdrawn. But we haven't been putting money into our Roth IRAs or the Squirt's college fund either, because I haven't known how much we had available to put away. So Saturday night we sat down at the computer with a bottle of wine (as any good budget conversation should begin) and took a hard look at the dirty truth. There's not enough money right now to go into all of our neat little categories.

Come March we begin anew. Cold hard cash from the ATM, little white envelopes and everything.

Because I know it's worth it. This Dave Ramsey thing is like losing weight. First you have to do the REALLY hard work - the strict diet, the brutal exercise. And then you start seeing your progress and it doesn't seem so very hard anymore. And then you reach your goal and you discover you LIKE working out and you FEEL BETTER when you eat your vegetables. So you keep it up.

And that's when you know you're free. You're free to have cake when you want it without feeling guilty. You're free to skip a day or a week of working out, because the healthy habits are ingrained now. You're not falling off the bandwagon without getting back on.

So we're jumping back on that wagon. Anyone want to join us?

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