THE PLANPosted: October 14, 2011
First thing we did after the car, moving out of our apartment, and me getting a new job: look at everything. It was really hard. To know that I am in some kind of immense debt but not sure of the exact amount was easy. To know that I’m in $100,000 debt and it is my fault? That’s hard. To have to tell my guy that I owed that much was even harder. I couldn’t not tell him—I felt that would be a lie and he deserved to know. I then asked him to pull his credit report so we could look at everything he owed.
I made up a list of all the debts we owed and then put them in order of how to be paid off. I then made a list of our bi-weekly expenses and our monthly expenses. Currently, we live paycheck to paycheck. Most of our excess money is funneled into savings—right now “huge” chunks go into our housing fund (huge is relative). We then pick a debt off the list (the last of our electricity bill from our old apartment is our pick at the moment) and then start saving money for it to be paid off.
As I can’t have a bank account and he gets too easily tempted by money, where do we save it? In envelopes. Not the safest and it doesn’t rack up any interest but it works for now.
As I’ve said before, this get’s worked on constantly. Recently, we did an experiment where we left $10 in his account instead of pulling it out and giving it to me to save. Results: after the first two weeks go by, he tells me he has .93 cents in his account. We gave it one more shot—he tells me later that we shouldn’t do that anymore as he gets tempted to easily (coffee, lunches, etc) to spend it. So I’ve reworked the budget to stop that plan and put it back where it used to be.
I’ve accounted for all money that should get spent—this includes a “miscellaneous” title that I added. This title includes all money that gets spent on: beer, our cat, any mediations, any hygiene purchases, and also the “other savings” accounts. These accounts include Christmas, medical (he needs new glasses and I need to save for some dental work) and whatever current debt we are saving up to pay off. There is normally some money at the end of two weeks that has not been saved or spent—this money gets divvied up between the saving accounts. It’s not much but every bit helps.
Something we have had to do is budget money for personal use. We weren’t having any fun, no extra purchases and were slowly starting to hate the budget—and that saved money was awfully tempting (“but we’ll just pay it back next week”: um no we won’t and in fact we will probably “borrow” more money from it). I’ve found that my personal money doesn’t get spent as much as I hate parting with it—that has gone in its own envelope for now and will eventually get spent but for now I leave it at home so I have to think about purchases I want to make. But it’s there for when I want it.
My budget works for us but it can be a little strict—want to go to the next town over for something? Well, we have to look at our gas budget as I’ve gotten that down to a science –$80 works for us for two weeks as long as we don’t make too many side trips (right now we live about 15 miles away from where we work). Want that date to be a little special? Ok, well, we either pull from our personal fund to supplement it or wait another two weeks and use that extra date money.
It does get rough—I make the same amount paycheck after paycheck provided I don’t work over time and hit my 40 scheduled hours (and I do—I’ll work through lunches, come in early, whatever it takes). He doesn’t—and his scheduled hours can go anywhere from 29 to 40 (he tries to pick more up as he can but sometimes no one wants to give hours away). So we decided to set his at the low end so that way if we have a little extra money, it helps but we were still prepared for the bare minimum. My overtime doesn’t get factored in at all—instead, most of it goes directly to savings. But hey, we’re getting out of the mire—slowly but surely.