Budgets and other things that make me want to throw bricks

Goals are good things because they help you measure success.  They also help you measure failure.

I logged onto my bank account this weekend and I saw that I had earned $4.12 interest in my savings account.

For the entire year of 2009.

*banging head on computer desk*

We have maintained a very strict budget for several years.  In fact, it’s so tight, it’s almost impossible to comply with, but the striving for it keeps us much closer to our goals.  If I could only list the many areas in which I feel we have measured great restraint (would you like to see my wardrobe? or our dinner menus the last week of the month?), and yet . . .

Sigh.

The good news is, we’ve managed to steer clear of consumer debt (and pay off any minor lapses in judgment before falling prey to interest and fees) and always pay our bills.

The bad news is . . . well, we’re not rich.  And I’m ticked.

I just wrote that because that’s how I feel sometimes, and writing it out makes me realize how stupid it is.  My version of “rich” is this:  to have money piled up in savings so whenever I really want to buy something (or travel somewhere— that’s usually the big one for me), there are funds just sitting there waiting to be used.  And I’m not kidding when I say that there are about eleventy-billion times that I have wished I could anonymously help someone out or bless someone’s life with money.  I would love to be some secret benefactress and go about stealthily doing good while still living the most normal lifestyle and never being suspected.  Is that weird?

Anyway, money stuff makes me crazy.  Not because things are horrible (Good heavens, we’re blessed!),  but because it seems so HARD to get to that place where you feel “ahead.” And the fact that Matt’s law school student loan payments start kicking in this month pretty much seals the fate on $4.12 interest for a few more years to come.

So maybe I should change my focus to the fact that we are lucky to have all we do have and we are able to pay our bills.  Maybe I should realize that sticking to our budget has prevented us from a lot of pain and worst-case scenarios rather than squelching all my dreams.  Maybe I just need to take a deep breath and eat a Toblerone.  :)

This is a dumb post.  It doesn’t even really have a point or ask any specific questions.  But I already spent too much time typing it, so it stays.  And I’m not a bitter or unhappy person, I promise.  I just kind of unleash a little monster inside of myself when I start thinking about budgets.

The end.

p.s.  Your response to my post for book requests ROCKED.  Man, what are all you educated people doing reading my blog when you have so many books on hand?!  I am so excited to add them to my request list at the library and get reading.  I shall probably finish your recommendations in the Spring of 2017.

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19 thoughts on “Budgets and other things that make me want to throw bricks

  1. The last few years we have really started living on a budget and it is hard sometimes, but at the same time pretty liberating. I don’t feel the need to buy things, just because someone else has it, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I would love a new wardrobe, but I just tell myself that financial security is much better than having the latest styles…right? I have many friends that are slaves to debt because they have to have all the best name brand stuff, etc. It is sad to watch them struggle so much. It’s kind of like the commandments. As we exercise constraint and self control to follow them…we are truly free. My little thought for the day. That doesn’t mean it is always fun! (ps…I’m really good at saying what should be than doing it!)

  2. I understand your dilemma completely. We scrimp and save and then boom something happens and takes it all. I know I should feel blessed that we could handle the mini emergency without going into debt etc…but (whinning voice) When do I get to just spend the money the way I want…not on some minor emergency…good grief!

  3. I could have written this post WORD FOR WORD! Except switch the law school thing for a master’s in accounting.

    We read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and are doing our best to pay off those darned student loans. Hang in there- I’m right there with you…driving my 19 year old car and dressing my kids in second-hand clothes. I figure that if we just keep at it eventually things will get better. We can pay all of our bills and that is what matters for now.

  4. AMEN!! I wish we could even get a budget to stick to but every time I sit down to do it, I end up infuriated at the fact that money doesn’t grow on trees! Oh well. I guess we just be grateful that someday we won’t have to rely on money.

  5. I hear you. To make things even more fun, we are house sitting for my parents who live in a much nicer neighborhood than we could ever afford. It’s a nice place, but all of the new/fancy/expensive trappings of our neighbors (who are generally very nice) can be a bit intimidating. My mantra as I get in either of our very late model cars while others go zipping past in their Lexus/Mercedes/Jaguars: “At least mine is paid for, it’s paid for,…”

  6. I am the SAME way! I would LOVE to anonymously send money, a lap top, or whatever to someone in need. I guess that’s when I put my faith in the Lord.

    And, this was not a dumb post. So many of us feel the same way. (We are paying back my school loans and haven’t even started into Med school. Sigh.)

  7. “I would love to be some secret benefactress and go about stealthily doing good while still living the most normal lifestyle and never being suspected.”

    No. not weird. I fantasize about that very thing a lot. It would be SO MUCH FUN.

    Someday? We’ll both keep hoping…

  8. Ditto, Steph. I echo your sentiments exactly. Even the benefactress part. I’d love to pay for someone’s gas without them knowing. Or send anonymous checks to people I know who need it. No matter how tight things are, it seems we can never get ahead. How/why is that?!?!?

  9. A friend once said to me “If money problems are your only problem, you don’t have problems.” And I agree. I am so blessed in other areas of my life, and although money is frustrating and our financial position is even more frustrating. :)

    The loans from the doctorate are going to be around for a long time, so I’m just resigning myself to that payment and like you, we are doing are darned best to scrimp and save.

    And hey, if you earned interest in your savings account at all, it means you HAVE a savings account. Lots of people can’t say that.

  10. Oh, I have been feeling guilty about our family budget lately. I hate it, too, so I have been neglecting it. I need to get back into the groove (But I don’t want to).

  11. After living on the tightest budgets known to man for the past 9 years we are finally in a place where we can save good amounts of money. Not every month, mind you, but we have learned to live in such a way that we can keep and save every tax return, work bonus, etc. As soon as we get them we squirrel them away into our various “spots” and pretend we just don’t have them. Even when we had a really bad month and got ourselves into a hole, we didn’t touch any of that money and pulled ourselves out the hard way. But it is so worth it to know that when our kids start leaving home we will hopefully have a good amount ready for retirement and… dare I say it?… travel.

    Keep at it!

  12. I agree that a budget and money are hard. However, I would rather have a budget and have money then be in mountains and mountains of debt. I would love to be able to go to a store and just spend a few dollars on silly things and not have to worry if it comes out of food budget or gas etc. I would rather worry about a budget then worry about whether or not my next paycheck will cover all the bills or not.

  13. I felt the exact same way. Esp. that we never had money for stuff we wanted. SO, I started putting 20 bucks into a “family fun fund” account each time that I work (I do 1-2 shifts/week). It’s nice that we’re going to be able to go to Disneyland in April out of this fund and not have to feel guilty becuase we saved up for it.

  14. You know you and I feel the same way about this. I hope my rant the other night about having to go back to being on a ridiculously tight budget didn’t inspire this blog entry. These last 8 months being able to go about quietly sharing our good fortune was SO MUCH FUN! I got to give tips, send money secretly, treat others to birthday lunches out, AND save money. Granted, we didn’t save as much as we would have, but in a way I am glad I didn’t know this job loss was coming because I wouldn’t have been as generous as I was, and I wouldn’t have given like I did. I would have been selfish and hoarded all of our good fortune, and then this last year would have been wasted. So yes, going back to being poor will be frustrating and upsetting, but the joy I’ve felt in giving made this last year worth the sacrifice that next year will be for our family. Your time will come….have faith.

  15. My life ambition is to be able to go to the grocery store and pay for the person’s groceries in line behind me (unbeknownst to them, of course). . . . still working on it.

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