At our school district, it usually takes the entire academic year for the negotiations team and the district to agree on a salary. When that happens, we are paid retroactively for any cost-of-living raise we may have been granted. We recently got such a raise (1%–woot!–for LAST YEAR) and were paid retroactively. Finally, in February, we got to see what our new pay check looks like.
It was a meager difference–I didn’t expect much–but it prompted me to look, really look, at my pay stub for the first time in a long while.
And for the first time, in maybe forever, I was struck with a thought. I make a decent amount of money. I absolutely make enough for us to live the life we want to live.
And it’s true. Now that I’m working full time and NOT spending $2K+ on health insurance every month, we have the income to live comfortably. I shouldn’t be struggling at the end of each month not to overdraw on my accounts. I should have enough for what I want to do, AND save for the future.
On a previous post Waterbelle suggest You Need A Budget (thanks!) and I’d been meaning to check it out. This “I make enough” revelation spurred me to go to their site and download a free 34-day trial.
Last night I went to work sorting out my budget, allotting certain amounts of money not just to what I know I’ll need to buy this month, but also to monthly “installment plans” on the bigger things I know will come due (car insurance) and even the ones I don’t know will come due (home repairs).
I was tentative at first, worrying that I’d run out of funds before I’d assigned an amount to all the necessary categories. But in the end I felt I’d budgeted plenty in every category, even putting some away for my kids’ college funds–and I had $15 left over.
And none of this includes the $5,000 I get pulled from my pay check tax-free as part of a 125B childcare reimbursement plan.
When I’m done paying off my credit card debt, that “extra” money will go to my student loans. And after that (only $7,000 left!), all that money will go into savings.
Seeing my monthly check this way, budgeted by categories, made me realize that I absolutely should be able to live within my means. Comfortably. Without feeling deprived. Sure I won’t be able to get everything I want. Sure I’ll have to say no sometimes. Sure I’ll have to be creative in my purchases, by bigger items second hand and defer any travel plans for a good, long while. But I can live comfortably, happily, on the money I make.
And I am incredibly fortunate to be able to say that.
Now the hard work begins. Now I need to keep track of how I spend my money, to make sure that I’m staying within the amounts I budged for in each category. I’ve already gone way over for “birthday presents” this month (we have EIGHT birthday parties and I have two baby showers in March!), so I’ll have to save some money in other areas. Of course in the future, I’ll hopefully have a little nest-egg in the “birthday presents” area of my budget, because I don’t have to buy them every month (at least not as many as I budget for).
And so it begins. My new financial future starts now. I even applied for life insurance last night! At 34 I’m finally getting my shit together.
Do you feel like you make enough? Do you have a budget? How to do keep track of it? Any suggestions for a newbie who’s just starting out?