I tend to find security in knowing “all the steps”. In other words, if someone tells me to first do step 1, followed by step 2, then step 3 – I take this as a recipe for success. After all, I just need to follow the steps completely and in the right order to achieve my goal.
It’s that simple, right?
That’s okay, I deserve that eye roll.
Maybe I just put too much faith in the process without having a realistic view of the execution. I don’t want to think about everything that will go wrong or get in my way, I just want to believe in the most idealistic version of following the steps.
This overly optimistic perspective has not served me well when it comes to our budget. In other words, I need a reality check for making a spending plan that will actually work.
May was a total bust. I knew we had a couple of big events to budget for (like my daughter’s high school graduation, my mother’s visit, and some major home improvements), and I just didn’t plan very well.
We went waaaaay-hay-hay over our budget, which left me feeling bummed out and worried. Especially because we’re going into summer, when I don’t have substitute teaching jobs to supplement our income, and my husband’s overtime decreases dramatically.
But then I tried to keep it in perspective by focusing on all that we have to be grateful for (and that is a lot!).
No, everything we spent from our savings wasn’t for emergencies – but some of it was. I’m thankful we had the money.
And yes, we spent a lot of money on our daughter’s graduation gift, but it was for something very meaningful and important to her. She’s had a rough couple of years fighting depression and anxiety, so seeing the tears of gratitude well up in her eyes when she opened her gift made the financial sacrifice worth it.
But spending over $700 on groceries??? Whaaaa??? I still don’t know how the heckola that happened. I’ll have to look into that a little further.
With that said, here’s the Good and the Bad for May:
- GOOD: A couple of my girlfriends from Vegas came to visit me! They know how rough it’s been for me and my family these past couple of years, and they wanted to give me a little weekend getaway. My husband had enough points built up with Marriott that we were able to stay at the new Gaylord of the Rockies for free!!! We had an awesome time just talking, shopping, eating, and shopping together! (Yes, I meant to say shopping twice!)
- GOOD: My mom came out for my daughter’s graduation! She was able to stay a week with us and got to see her only granddaughter walk across the stage to get her hard-fought and well-deserved diploma, graduating with honors! She also blessed us with financial gifts and extra cash for groceries, so that really helped a lot!
- GOOD: We wrapped up the claim for our new roof and were able to get everything completely paid off with insurance money. Yay!!! This was close to a $50K improvement on our home, which is going to really help out with its value when we sell it someday. The hail damage was not extensive, but because we were patient and persistent we were able to get the whole thing replaced.
- GOOD: I had gotten several quotes a year ago to get the exterior of our house painted, and we were expecting to pay about $5,500 for the job. But then we got hail in July and the whole roof replacement process was set in motion. The paint company told us to wait until after the roof was finished before scheduling the paint, and it took nearly a year to get both completed! In the claim, the insurance company also covered “other property”, which was for damage to our fence and the house siding. My husband and I decided we’d rather use those funds to pay for the paint job instead. We had close to $4,500 left over from the insurance money after we paid off the roof, which covered most of the exterior paint job on our house!
- GOOD: I got my full 60 days of substitution teaching assignments in by the end of the school year! That means when I start up again in August, I’ll be at the “super sub” pay, which is almost 60% more!
- BAD: We had some unexpected expenses that added to our overspending. An annual subscription renewal, some hefty summer basketball fees, motorcycle insurance, and a new ice bin for the freezer. Even though I feel I’m pretty detailed when it comes to making our budget, I obviously need to look more closely at uncommon expenses and plan better to have those covered.
- BAD: Even though I was so thankful to have my friends here and then my mom, I did not plan the “fun” money very well. Actually, I didn’t really plan it at all – partly because I didn’t even know my friends were coming until 2 weeks before it happened. I decided to just enjoy my time with them, be wise with my spending and not go too crazy. But it definitely contributed to going over our budget.
- BAD: Our food budget was a total fail. We spent $1,300 on groceries and restaurants!! That’s an average of $42 a day! A DAY! Part of this was eating out every meal for 3 days when my friends were here. Then there was Mother’s Day, and graduation, and taking my mom out…yeah. It was just one of those months that was full of activity and food. But, it’s over now, and we’ll just need to tighten the reins for the rest of summer.
- BAD: We were only able to pay the minimum on all of our debt accounts, and this will probably carry through the summer months. Since I started getting serious about being on a budget, and also living off of last month’s income, I’ve been committed to tithe 10% to our church. This has been a huge sacrifice for us, but also a high value. We just trust that all of our needs will be met, but it has left less money to apply to debt. And I’m okay with that.
- GOOD/BAD: My husband and I decided to make a significant purchase for our daughter’s graduation gift – like, about a month before she graduated. I knew we’d have to use some of our savings (which I consider our emergency fund), so that was bad. It definitely wasn’t an emergency and was more than we had any business spending on a gift. But there were some special circumstances surrounding this decision, and we both felt it was a sacrifice we were willing to make for her. Sometimes you just have to go with your heart, and this is a good thing.
Our Savings & Our Debt
There was very little movement in both of these, which was expected. Actually, for the remainder of summer we probably won’t be able to pay more than the minimum payments or add any excess to our savings.
The main objective right now with our savings account is building up an additional one month’s expenses. When we started living off of our previous month’s income a couple of months ago, I just took the first month’s funds from our savings. It’s been so much easier budgeting this way! But that leaves our savings about one month’s expenses less than what it should be.
I’m looking into ways to bring in a little extra income for the summer because that’s really the only way we’re going to get ahead between now and August. My struggle is figuring out which opportunity will return the highest profit. There are a lot of ways to make money with a side job, but many only end up paying less than minimum wage. I want to make sure I invest my time and energy into something that is worth taking me away from my family. I’ll keep you updated!
In A Nutshell
Even though I consider May to be a total budget fail, it’s important to remain thankful for the blessings we have.
- I’m thankful for friends that left their own families to come support and encourage me during a hard season.
- I’m thankful my mom was well enough to fly out and see her granddaughter graduate from high school.
- I’m thankful my daughter was able to cross the finish line with honors, even after all of the struggles she’s endured over the past few years.
- I’m thankful we had the means to bless her with a gift she will enjoy for the rest of her life!
So, now that I’ve looked at the mistakes we’ve made in our finances for May, it’s time to get back up and do better in June. We need to be more diligent with our food budget and limit the discretionary spending for a while. I’ll need to find some free things to do for my family so we also have some fun!
How is your summer budgeting going? Are you crushing it or failing miserably?
If you’re making more money mistakes than you care to admit, just remember that each day is a new day you can choose to get back on track. Don’t let failure keep you from reaching your goals. Instead, let it motivate you to learn from your mistakes and keep trying!