Looking back.

In January, this year, I posted This Post about how I was going to do our budget and finances for 2012.  I still like the plan, and it did work for a while. I know now though, the biggest reason it didn't work, was that I was totally in denial.

When I had the little drama with the Paypal donate button post a few weeks ago, I thin it finally made me see.  All along I knew I had a problem, but I kept rationalizing *everything* I did.  I'd be upset with my self later when I'd overspent and totally destroyed the budget I'd set up... I blamed it on my "depression self" and set about trying to redo the budget and kept making empty promised to myself not to let it happen again.  It was all a lie.  I know down deep, I kept thinking it was really okay... everything would work out,  it wasn't really all that bad of a problem. 

The thing is... is it's a huge problem.  In fact, I know in my heart that my problem is why we're 42 and don't have a real house and a couple of good vehicles, and our kids are always told "No, we really can't afford that school trip or those new clothes."  Yes, we had it hard for several years, but really, we've both had really fabulous jobs for 5 years now.  If I hadn't been spending the money we make now faster than we were making it,  then we simply would not be in the position we're in now.  I know that.

Just as importantly, my husband knows it and is facing it with me.  I'm sure he's known all along too, but for some reason we both just turned a blind eye to it. Maybe he knew spending money made me happy, and he just wanted me to be happy. Ironically, what we've both discovered is how happy we are seeing money in the bank and knowing that when we pay a bill, the money is there and then there's actually some left over.  We've lived paycheck to paycheck and even worse, overdraft to overdraft for so long, we simply didn't know how to live any other way. 

That's why I totally blew it the first part of this year.  We were finally making a lot of money (relative to what we're used to), and we didn't have a ton of cash advances to pay back or any huge medical bills over our heads. At first, we were good.  We knew we wanted a treadmill to get healthy easier, and we budgeted and found a good deal and got it on layaway... we built up an emergency fund... but before it was even time to start shopping for my daughter's wedding, I was getting impatient.  I'd gotten used to that extra money in my pocket, and I wanted more... so I spent money budgeted for the wedding on other things I felt I needed for the house, things I rationalized I'd lived without for so long, I was due something nice. This continued, til the wedding was fast approaching and I didn't have the money for the last payment on the dress, the table and chair rentals, the food...  The IMPORTANT STUFF!  I'd probably spent $200-$300 or more on other stuff that in the end didn't even matter. So cash advances came to the rescue of the wedding... but I still didn't change my habits.  Now the extra money I did have to spend how I wanted was supposed to go to pay off the cash advances... but I still felt like I deserved to have that money in my pocket.  I earned it.  My husband worked hard for it.  The thing is, the bill collectors felt they needed some too.  So that brings me to now.

No longer do I feel like I *deserve* to spend money on anything.  Instead I have learned to be grateful for any little money we do get .  If I get an extra day on my paycheck, I say a prayer of thank you.  I was actually thankful to get a check for our anniversary from C's grandparents.  I was worried about finding the money to pay the internet bill so I could still make it to work every day - and their check was the exact amount I needed to make the full payment. In the past, I'd stick the check in my purse and forget about depositing it, spend the money on credit cards anyway and finally get it in the bank probably a day or two late. I can clearly remember that happening on more than one occasion.

Like I posted before this one, we are really doing well on the sticking to the budget now.  Where in the past I'd stop even looking at the budget book after I paid a couple bills... now I have it with me every time we go out to run errands.  I am always double-checking it, and I am so happy when we finally get everything for the week checked off as paid or done.

The kids aren't quite as on board with the cutting back yet.  I haven't cut out TV yet as it is a big thing in this house.  There are so many shows as a family they all sit around and watch when I'm at work - not garbage shows either, but like educational science and nature shows plus a few reality shows - so it's staying for now.  They have lost their phone minutes and all extra snacks for lunches, no more allowances, so yeah they're not thrilled.  But we've told them it's not forever.  Allowances will come back, but maybe not phones.  $40 a month per kid so they can have unlimited texts has really got to stop unless their allowance goes on the phones directly.  It will be up to them. Spending money, or phone minutes... oh it's so hard to be a teenager... hah.  I've personally been without a cell phone for almost 2 months now. You learn to live without them.

So, while this post is mostly rehashing other recent posts,  I find myself needing to talk these things out... typing my thoughts helps me organize them and see where we really are. I know in that post I linked to above, that I wanted it to work... I was desperate for it to really work this time.  I'd failed so many times before.  But I can remember knowing in my heart I was doomed to fail again if I didn't change my ways.

I just pray to God that this lesson I've learned will stick with me this time.  By October of 2013, I want to be posting about how we finally made it... I finally overcame my addiction to shopping and feeling of self entitlement and had instead become obsessed over saving money - and how we'd paid off the car and the loans, paid back family, and never went back to the cash advance places ever again.  That's the kind of post I want to be able to do in a year from now. 

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