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February 24, 2008

For the longest time (many, many years) the wife and I would handle money like this:

if ( money in bank account ) { useDebitCard(); } else { useCreditCard(); }

Needless to say, after several years of doing this, it gets you into a tad of trouble, money wise.

HOWEVER! We’ve finally decided enough is enough. We’ve worked out a monthly budget (using a piece of software called YNAB), and have a plan to pay down the debt we’ve incurred.

And you know what?

It feels GREAT.

I no longer worry about whether the debit card is going to be rejected (which was especially embarrassing at Costco). I no longer feel bad about buying a little something for myself (since it comes out of my “mad money” that’s budgeted each month), since I know it’s not going to affect our grocery budget, or gas budget, or force one of us into using the credit card for something and thereby incurring more debt. I haven’t even touched the credit card since we started doing this.

Really, though, the most important part is there’s a hell of a lot less tension in the marriage when it comes to money. We talk a lot more about it, and are planning a lot farther ahead for stuff. We’re saving for Christmas. We’re budgeting for birthdays months ahead of time. We need some car stuff done (new tires for me, new clutch for the wife) and that’s in there as well.

It also helps with the “emergencies”. Just this past weekend, the wife took her 4runner in for an oil change, and asked them to check out the brakes. We were guessing it was going to be pretty bad, and it was, to the tune of, well, more than $1, less than $1000 :). But part of this whole budgeting thing is to plan for stuff like this. When you have a plan set out beforehand, it’s a whole hell of a lot less stressful.

I’m hoping we can stick to it, and I think we can. It feels good. It feels like we’re finally making a difference and doing the right thing. We’re still tweaking it a little bit since we just started, but we’ll get it down. It’s still a bit hard, especially with the “mad money”, seeing as how I like to buy expensive things. That RC helicopter I got a few months ago isn’t going to pay for it’s own parts, dammit!

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