Budgeting is a relatively new revelation for me. I got sick of feeling like I was constantly depriving myself and yet never getting ahead. Any and every purchase was tinged with the guilt of “I can’t afford this.” I felt like I barely spent anything and couldn’t figure out where the money went. For years my husband I withdrew however much money we needed from our joint chequing account (neither of us exactly sure how much the other was spending) and barely made rent. The last week of every month was painfully lean as we tried to cobble together enough to keep a roof over our heads.
So last fall I drew up a budget. Well, first I bought the Pocket Idiots Guide: Living On A Budgetbecause I didn’t know quite where to start. It is pretty straightforward, but sometimes you just want somebody — some writer — to say “Start here.” We’re still not doing everything exactly by the book, so to speak. We have some debt to tackle rather than putting aside a rainy day fund, for example. We also have some needs to be met that cannot really wait for us to strictly be able to afford them. Like we couldn’t wait to pay off our debt before purchasing a car, a dishwasher and an air conditioner. (Trust me. The second baby plus trying to find the time to work from home made those things pretty damn necessary.) But the real miracle is that we found a way to pay for them. Knowing how much money we have left to spend after all the necessities are accounted for actually makes me feel richer. It’s okay for us to go out for dinner because I know that the essentials are taken care of. By putting most of my spending money on my credit card I get to pay down my balance when I come under budget, too. So I’m spending more freely and saving money — unreal. [Read more…]