money notes

Posted: February 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

At the beginning of the year, I blogged here about my two words of focus for 2015:  DISCIPLINE and INTENTION.  Awhile after that, I blogged about the making of a financial plan and goals for the year.  It’s great to have big ideas and make plans and schemes, but a lifetime of doing that and then just flat not following through makes me know:  we have to stay after this, if it is succeed.

I had made a notebook with each page representing a paycheck period.  Each page listed which bills were expected to come out on which dates (since almost all of our bills are set up to pay automatically, without prompting from us), as well as categories for other spending, with budget amounts.  The goal is to mark each blll off as it is paid, and to record each expenditure under the correct heading – things like food, gas, household, bunny stuff, medical, etc.

We had done great about keeping receipts and tossing them all in the same spot on the dining room table for the last two paychecks; we had NOT done great about stopping to record stuff on the correct pages.  So yesterday I took all the receipts, along with printouts from all banking accounts for the last 2 pay periods, and did a reconciliation of sorts.  It was kind of tedious and quickly showed me ways I can improve the notebook pages, which won’t be hard since I only made up pages through February thus far (I figured rightly that working the system would show me the flaws in that system).

Some of the news we discovered was good.  Bills going out on time.  At or under budget on gasoline. During the current period, since we have been on a “spending fast” with others in our church, the “eating out” expense is at rock bottom.  But other news was…well…appalling.  We have been inexcusably over budget in some areas – areas that I thought we were doing pretty well.  Most especially the category that is groceries, supplements, and household items (yes, we have that all under one umbrella right now.)

Some of it needs further examination.  For instance, I use the “Subscribe and Save” feature of Amazon for some things we use regularly, like body wash and dish soap and a whole slough of supplements; this was a month when a number things came in bulk that we only get once every 3 months.  To some extent, the first six months or so of this system will be tracking and testing and waiting to see how things average out over a longer period of time.  It’s okay to go egregiously over budget occasionally, if in doing so it saves money in the bigger picture, I’m thinking.  But AM I saving money in the bigger picture?  That’s what remains to be seen.

I do think it is worthwhile, in view of how badly over budget we are, to re-evaluate the extent of our use of supplements.  We will be talking through and thinking through what we need and what we are just doing because it seems like a good idea.  For instance, I am generally anemic, so I need iron (though I think my mom said after 50 that’s not a good idea, so I’ll need to study up in the next year or so on that.)  I have been Vitamin D deficient in the past, to the extent that I was going home from work early each day to go straight to bed for the night around 3 PM, so I want to stick with the Vitamin D.  The spirulina sincerely helps with my arthritis pain – when I run out, the pain is so much worse.  The supplement can be the difference between me being able to work out or not.  Gotta keep that.  The primrose oil for sure keeps me from committing a murder during PMS oversensitivity days – for the sake of humanity, I will keep getting it.  I have two more supplements coming that look promising for the arthritis pain – chorella and curcumin – we’ll see how they go.  I’m inclined to keep the fish oil, because of the history of heart disease in my family.  Other stuff, we may drop, like the one that is calcium, magnesium, and zinc, and perhaps the multivitamin, and for sure the tart cherry pills, which do NOT seem to help me a bit with the arthritis, though some report great success with them.

In the end, though, we’ll see.  Maybe the budget I made for food is just too low for buying healthy food and supplements.  I raised my kids on processed junk and for sure one can eat for almost nothing, in that mode.  If you just need calories, I can tell you all about how to do that on the cheap.  A regular supply of fresh veggies and various seeds and nuts and whole grains…it ain’t cheap.  We do save money on meat, since we don’t buy it (other than the occasional package of bacon – you can flavor a whole pot of greens with a few pieces of it, so a little goes a long way) – we just eat meat when we are out – mostly when we eat lunch at work.  But healthy food is still expensive, even without meat included.  So maybe I’ll just need to up the grocery budget.  We’ll see.  Can’t know without tracking closely and evaluating carefully.

DISCIPLINE and INTENTION.  It’s all in there.  It ain’t glamorous.  It ain’t fun.  But it does feel good, knowing what’s up.  And I do have great hope for running a tight ship eventually, once we get a good handle on what we’re currently doing.

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