Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hasta La Vista, Netflix!

My husband and I have finally decided to take the plunge. We’ve jumped, and are hoping this will ultimately keep us from falling face first. We started a budget! Yeah, BIG news right?! It is to us! I do find it a tad bit embarrassing that I’m an adult with a marriage, child, home and 2.0 cars and haven’t balanced a checkbook since I was 16. Don’t get me wrong, I am responsible! Or at least I thought I was until I found out I had no clue where most of my money went each month. (And I don’t even have drunken blacked out nights to blame!)  Sure, some months have been harder than others but some how the bills have gotten paid. The water’s still hot and the heat is still on, and we could still go and do as we pleased (within reason of course). 
It took my hubby reading his first book since High School, (a feat in and of itself!) about becoming debt free that finally got us thinking in a different direction. (Never mind the fact that the book was a Christmas gift from his Mom over two years ago). The book talks about creating a zero dollar budget that allows you to take any leftover $ and pay down your debts one by one. All while eliminating any extra or unnecessary expenses. (What? WalMart aisle perusing is not a necessity??!!) The first items to make the cut: Sayonara my Friday pick me up Rockstar. Adios smart phones and the ability to LOL my BFF’s newest facebook photo from the lobby at the Jiffy Lube. Au Revoir my instantly streaming episodes of Weeds on blue ray.
 After the first chapter, I was ready to get radical! How long would it take before the DEA put our house on watch if we start a green house garden in the garage? Could we covert the basement into a giant chicken coop? How quickly could I learn to knit? Do knit undies make you chafe?  If we sell both of our cars could we fit a horse and buggy on the side of the house? Would said horse also nibble down our grass in the summer or should we get a goat for the lawn mower duties? (I’m not ridiculous enough to think we could fit a Horse AND a Cow in our little backyard) Could I get my son to switch to goat’s milk? Could I? (Bleck!)
A couple more chapters in and I was able to come back down to reality.  (Knitted knickers? Really?! And who wants to pick up that much animal poo anyways?!) We were finally able to step back from our paycheck to paycheck lifestyle and realize we don’t have to wonder how we’re ever going to afford to send our kid(s) to college someday. Or how we will ever be able to tell Joe Schmo to take our jobs and shove it (as we drive away in our double wide pop out motor home). And we don’t have to become Amish to do it. Basically, we just need to learn how to take control of our own income and tell our money where to go.  (Grocery, on the ground and give me $300! STAT!) There’s no secret formula or get rich schemes involved. Just good ole’ fashioned tightwad money smarts!
By literally writing down where each dollar goes for each paycheck, we’re creating a budget that will allow us to be completely debt free within the next 2-4 years. And we couldn’t have picked a better time to take our heads out of our tooshies! Our room mate of last few years, has decided to stop paying rent for a room that he really hasn’t ‘lived’ in for almost a year now(he’s finally, officially shacking up with his lady).   So here we are with a fresh dent in our little ‘plan’. Depending on the day’s mood (who am I kidding, more like the HOUR), I see this as a blessing and a hardship. It’s not that we hadn’t seen this coming, like I said; our roomie never stays here anyways and has basically been paying a high price for a heated storage unit, but it’s still going to take some serious adjustments. Including a huge adjustment to our overall timeline. (Insert frowny face here) It really is a blessing though, that we’ve got a plan at all! If we had learned this a few months ago we’d just be going about our day-to-day lives completely clueless about where our account was at (or I would be running to WM to pick up shampoo and deciding I really needed was $60 worth of toddler clothes that will be grown out of faster than I can even think about getting into my skinny jeans)!
But I have to say, even if it means it’s going to be harder than we had originally thought and take longer than we had planned, every single penny that I save and can put towards paying off our timeshare, or our vehicles, or our ridiculous dental bills (seriously, I think the tooth fairy is scheming us all!) it is totally worth it for the end result! The closer we get to stomping out those monthly bills, the closer I get to being able to stay home and become a full time Mom and Wife.
All I have ever wanted was to be married to my prince charming (I got blessed there for sure!) and to have lots and lots of babies and stay home taking care of my family. Now that I know how expensive little blessing shaped children can be, I’ve had to scale back my Duggar sized dreams but my core goals are still there. I want my days to be filled with cooking three square meals for my family, removing glue from hair (hopefully not mine) after our daily craft project, weekly play dates, mommy and me music class, grocery shopping, playing outside, making dinner, spending time with my husband, cleaning up and finishing off my day with a load of laundry and a new episode of Glee or Sons of Anarcy on the DVR.  (And the occasional interruption, 15 minutes into the week’s newest drama to give my little boy an extra hug and snuggle to send him back to la la land after a bad dream). I’d love to have the time to attempt keeping my house clean for longer than one afternoon. I want to know how to recite Betty Crocker’s entire cookbook in my sleep! In English and the French Cuisine translation! I want to have time to teach my little buddy all the basics before he starts school and MORE! And once he’s in school, I want to be there for every adorable Holiday performance going back and forth between cheering him on and furiously hand motioning him to take one or more fingers out of some bodily crevice. (Thank goodness for shake reduction cameras!)
I could kick myself for not having this plan in places years ago so I could be living this way now instead of later. And I’ve thought of giving myself some kind of awful punishment for my loose wallet ways, (no red box movies for a year!) but let’s not get crazy here. The point is, we’re on our way, we’re making the right decisions NOW and that’s what counts. Someday I won’t have to pry my cling on toddler from my legs as I head out to work and I can feel at peace knowing I’m right where I need to be J