Middle Years Finances

I am often a micromanager of our household and was pretty successful at it when the kids were younger. I like organizing the home to be most efficient and comfortable and I like prepping events or activities to be orderly and enjoyable. With money, I like it going where I expect, doing what I want, and not running out. Early on, we had a really small income. And now that our income is larger, the volume of expenses is greater. My early money-management techniques and decision-making processes need to evolve with my family! And… so I’m blogging to try and do that.

Shopping with the girls recently.

For several years, I’ve struggled to keep my spending within the budget plan that I’ve set for myself.

Aside: I love budgeting. I use a program (used to use Microsoft Money but now I use AceMoney Lite) to track my expenses. I sit down at my desk about once a week and copy every transaction from my bank account to AceMoney. I double-check that the balances match and I assign a category and subcategory to every transaction. These are the best way I’ve found to keep track of what I’m doing with my money. Once a month, I run a report from my program that shows the totals for each category/subcategory. Those values get entered into my written budget. My typed budget. Whatever. I use excel to write my budget numbers down and transfer my monthly totals there once a month to see how I’m doing.

And how I’m doing is consistently overspending in most of my discretionary categories. (Mortgage payment, phone bill, water bill are not discretionary. Grocery choices, household supplies, hair cuts, hiking gear, etc…. that’s where the problem lies.)

I save all year to be able to buy fresh, local produce in the spring and summer!

So I’m sitting down to think out loud. Why am I struggling to limit my spending? What changed that made this harder? What thought processes have I added or abandoned? What can I do differently?

-Making more money means I can buy things I couldn’t before.
-Buying things I couldn’t before makes me think that I can afford to buy ALL the things I couldn’t before.

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.” Charles Dickens

-Being overspent or overburdened emotionally, physically, schedule-wise, or in any other way means something has to give and support is needed.
-Healthy eating, home cooking, careful prioritizing, etc….. are the give.
-Fast food, easy food, activities of respite and relief are the support.

Once again… overspending.

-Prioritizing expenses is how we have always decided where our limited, finite money will go.
-The amount, the volume of expenses has increased tenfold at least as the number of children has increased, the ages of the children has increased, and our own adult lives have gotten more complex too.
-I’ve gotten lost in the sheer volume of options and given up prioritizing carefully.

It’s been tricky to “find” the money in the budget for backpacking, but it’s been SO GOOD for our family’s health. I need to give it a permanent spot in the budget to make more careful decisions in the future.

Hey – that’s pretty good progress for one morning of journaling/blogging!

Self reminder: Just because we have more income than early in our marriage doesn’t mean we can afford everything!
Self awareness: Stress makes me reach for expensive solutions. Choose the less-expensive option more often.
Preparation: Attempt the list-making solution for complex priorities. Write down what I think I need and refuse to make the purchase until 1 week or more has passed. Choose a good place to keep this list.

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