|(The decorations at my son's Chinese New Years party at school cracked me up.)|
Good thing Chinese New Years is here to give me a second chance on making a resolution. The one in January came and went without a goal in site. If you haven't made any resolutions, don't worry. Chinese New Years continues through February 6th. You still have time!
Rob and I (like millions of other people) have decided this is our year to get out of debt. We've always lived as if money was right around the corner. Like a carrot dangling out in front of us. And that someday, everything would figure itself out when a mysterious windfall of money arrived at our door step. It never came and our debt slowly began to grow. It was to the point that I didn't even know how much we were spending on credit card monthly fees. I'm glad I learned this lesson young. We needed to come up with with debt and savings plan fast before it got out of control.
Of course right before we decided to get serious about our money, there have been so many opportunities to spend big bucks. It's like the girl who decides to go on a diet on her birthday. Does she eat the cake? And ice cream? I would. But that's the problem! I need to learn how to say no.
We know it's going to come with sacrifices. Not real sacrifices, but the kind of sacrifices over privileged twits complain about. Just this week, there's been a fancy ballet class come up that I really wanted to sign Ella up for, but I resisted to the point of tears (not her, me!). And Rob was planning our family trip to Washington D.C this weekend. And we got the official date for the family reunion in California. We were so tempted to buy plane tickets! Usually, we would have just said yes yes yes to all of these things. But we've learned our lesson. We feel trapped by debt. So we said no. No. And no. The craziest thing is that saying no didn't cause an argument between Rob and me. It actually felt good to say no. Empowering. Shocking.
We spent hours today making sense of our finances and drafting a plan. I thought I had a grasp of all of our debts, but I was clueless of how bad it had gotten. After researching all the different methods to keep a budget, I've concluded that a pencil and regular composition notebook is the best system for us. I needed something tangible. Almost like money. To remind me that this debt is real and not some number on a computer screen that I can just turn off. I'll see how it goes.
This month's goal: Cut back in general but especially on our outrageous food bill. We set aside a specific amount of money for food and plan on sticking to it. That means filling up the frig with actual groceries, learning a few new recipes,and experience the thrill of eating from NYC food trucks. Cheap excellent food! Gung ho FAT Choy!
What system do you use to keep a budget? Do you use excel? Mint.com? A planner?An App?Your brain? Nothing? How's it going?