Style Tuesday: Cramping My Style
This post is about finances – personal finances. But I’m not getting personal. I’m not telling you how much money we don’t have or we have so I don’t think this falls into the “you should never talk about finances at a dinner party” category. But maybe it does. I’m sure someone will tell me on or offline (Derek, mom).
Do you have a budget? We used to before we had kids. We knew what was coming in and what was going out the door each month. We used to be the king and queen of the Excel spreadsheet.
Since we’ve had the kids, we still know what’s coming in, but we’ve let the spreadsheets go a bit on the expense side of the equation. As long as our bills are paid, and our investment and savings goals are met each month, we seem to have adopted a laissez-faire attitude, or perhaps it’s a head buried in the sand attitude.
I have seen enough morning show segments on budgeting, that I think it’s time to go through this exercise again. We have friends who have adopted the Gail Vaz-Oxlade cash-in-jars for each budget line system of budgeting. They have something specific they are saving for, and it’s working really well for them.
That is definitely not what I’m talking about. I just want to know what we spend roughly each month. It means several hours of analyzing twelve months worth of visa bills and bank statements.
I’m using some online budget examples to remind me of line items that might not be top of mind. When I started listing expenses, I somehow forgot that my husband gets his hair cut, goes to the gym, plays in basketball leagues, and goes to hockey games, essentially most of the things that he does for himself.
I think it will be interesting to compare the pre- and post-children monthly expenses. I have some theories on the major differences, but I’m not sure I’m correct. For example, I know I definitely did not pay for childcare or preschool back then, but I think our restaurant budget ought to be less now. And I’m wondering about travel – we definitely travel less often but when we travel with the kids, it means more seats on the plane and larger hotel rooms.
Luckily we’ve had little inflation over the last 5.5 years; that might have made my comparison too complicated.
I’m looking forward to this project. I think it will make me feel in control. Or it will make me feel like I want to throw up, and maybe even stop shopping (at least for a day or two).
I would love to hear from anyone who has done this recently. Was there any expense that really surprised you or stood out? Did you then stick to a monthly budget or was it purely an exercise in understanding the status quo? Ultimately, did you find that whether you had intended to or not, you changed the way you spend?