Daily Archives: August 18, 2011

Fixin’ it…

This week I’ve had a thought in the back of my mind that it would be really nice to surprise Brad with a date on Wednesday night. I figured Thursday night he would want to be with Zoe, seeing as he’s going to be away from her for 9 whole seemingly never ending days. {At least that’s the vibe that I’m picking up from him} In my mind I was going to have a babysitter all lined up, surprise him at work, and whisk him off to a romantic dinner and maybe a movie {read: probably Cracker Barrel and The Help}. It was going to be glorious. He was going to be thrilled, if not by the movie choice, at least for the pleasure of my full and undivided attention for a few hours. And then I got the phone call…and my plans went straight out the window. Rather than zoning out at a movie, we would be fully focused on our bank account and a spreadsheet.

That’s right, I said a spreadsheet. Me, the girl who failed Statistics twice was going to get up close and personal with Excel. We kept the babysitter {thanks Janet!} and headed off to Panera, meanwhile a friend of ours was creating a template for us. When she called to walk me through the template, I literally couldn’t believe my eyes, she rocked my freaking socks off! Let me just suggest that if you find yourself swimming in the deep end trying to keep your head above the water find somebody who knows what they’re doing with Excel. Brad and I put the “budget meeting” to the side as we enjoyed dinner together. When the plates were cleared, we looked at each other and both said at the same time, “What do we do now?”. Honestly, the only thing I can say about that is that it’s really nice to have somebody in your boat with you in moments like that. We declared the “meeting” a frustration free zone, agreed that we would make no excuses for past decisions, and that we would not place blame…no matter how clear the blame may be. And with that…we dug in.

The first step was to figure out where the heck the money went, so we sorted through our bank statement line by line. Brad called out numbers while I made lists. When everything was sorted out and added up I was speechless. Those little $2 here and $10 there add up to hundreds of dollars every month. The biggest money pit? Eating Out. What?!?!?! If you had asked me I would have told you that we eat out as a family maybe once a week, and that Zoe and I eat lunch out and about a few times a week. I couldn’t have been more wrong. If we cut out {or even cut back} on eating out, we can put over $300 a month into savings. Are you kidding me???? After we could pick our jaws up off the table we apologized to each other for spending our money foolishly, and then called for intermission, and left to pick up Zoe.

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After she was tucked in for the night and a few chores around the house were completed we reconvened on the couch. It was time for the spreadsheets. I’m not an Excel junkie by any stretch of the imagination, but even I had to sit back and stare at the beauty of the spreadsheets that our friend created. Here…look at them!

budget 1
budget 2
budget 3
budget 4

Don’t let them scare you. They’re actually pretty easy to figure out. Almost every single page feeds into another page, some of the spreadsheets I’ll work with more than the others. The last one, the spending detail spreadsheet, it has a drop down box of the categories of spending. How cool is that? And then once I pick that category it adds it to my actual budget spent on the budget page, and then totals up my percentages per month so that I can see the average. That might be a little greek to you, like it was for me, but trust me on this one…this spreadsheet is sexy.

On top of the spreadsheet we are going to be doing the cash in envelopes system. We’re pretty sure that part of our problem is that a debit card feels a little bit like imaginary money, and the reality of what we’re spending isn’t prominent. So, to fix this, we’re pulling out money every week and portioning it off into envelopes. When we spend money we will put the receipt into the envelope and then later that day enter it onto the spreadsheet. I know that it seems like a whole lot of work right now, and to be honest, it is, BUT it will keep us accountable…and that’s worth the work. We decided that for the first month…which will be September…we are going to talk about it every evening. Again, that’s way more work than we’ll be doing in the future, but our muscles are weak in this department, and we need to strengthen them. Eventually, we’ll still be doing both the spreadsheet and the envelopes, but the spreadsheet will be done bi-monthly and the envelopes will be our day to day budget. Does that make sense?

Our true budget doesn’t start til September {or actually next Thursday when Brad gets paid}, in the meantime, we’re just going to make conscious decisions about our spending, I’m only spending the cash I saved for the trip while I’m in Michigan, and Brad…well, he’s not that big of a spender anyways. I am by far the weaker link.

So, thanks for coming along on this journey with me of fixing all the kinks in my system. =) Your support means the world to me.

Happy Thursday Ya’ll!

ps…If you’re wondering…I haven’t packed a darn thing for the trip and we leave in less than 24 hrs. Like a t-shirt I saw yesterday, “I put the ‘pro’ in procrastinate”…