You know that feeling? The feeling when you look at your credit card statement for the first time in a while? That feeling of, “What have I done?” When your stomach drops or you can feel your heart in your throat? Well, I’m feeling it for sure. Whether its panic or guilt – I’m in the thick of it. Anyone who knows me even a little bit would say that I am frugal or even cheap, so why did I majorly fail with finances in January?
I could make excuses for family emergencies, not having enough time, or being stressed out, but let’s get real. Why did I beef it so hard with spending last month?
Right now, I am not as brave as Mark & Lauren G in sharing the real numbers in my budget, however I think I can dive deep enough without math to figure things out by simply starting with positive changes we made in our finances and budgeting and then moving on to other not-so-positive decisions.
In December, I read The Automatic Millionaire, which prompted me to ensure we were overpaying our mortgage (which we were) – so no change there. The book also urged me to bump up my 401k contribution. Tyler’s was already at 12%, but mine was only at 4% (so that I could get my employer’s match). I have since increased my contribution to 10%, thus increasing retirement savings and decreasing regular take-home pay. While this is a positive change, and it’s not too significant, it is worth mentioning. I still need to shift my mindset. I am paying myself first, so its OK if I don’t have as much extra at the very end.
Speaking of shifting mindsets, I still have a hard time with our student loan strategy. Tyler makes sure to significantly overpay (and sometimes more than double) these every month – working on Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball principle. This is a good thing! But I need my brain to realize that, while we are doing what we need to, it may mean less savings in the end (temporarily).
Now that the positive changes have been mentioned, it’s time for some real talk. I have had trouble nailing down my “latte factor,” but I think that’s because it changes all of the time – a Diet Coke here, some clearance home decor there – it all adds up!
I have failed at budgets many a time before, so this time, I’m going to retro-actively categorize all January spending to see where I went over. Its going to be painful. I am hoping this will help me get a grip on what happened and help me identify areas where to cut back.
Its time for Frugal February! Looking forward to bringing less into my life, identifying where I can improve, and slowly building up that bank account balance!
Have you been in this position before? How did you crawl out from your guilt-filled spending spree?