So I’ve written before about the budget I set up and how much it’s helped us save money. I love it. Honestly. I never thought I would love having a budget AT ALL when I was younger but I love it ridiculous amounts. And I just got a reminder why. today, I want to tell you about the time I dropped the budgeting ball and all consequences that followed.
The Time I Dropped the Budgeting Ball
It was actually quite recently. I want to write about it while it’s still fresh.
See, we recently bought our first home, moved twice, spent a whole month traveling, had a baby, went through the Holidays…pretty much, had life happen in a big way. Well, during all of this, I was unable to get the printer to work to print off my budget sheet for the month. Ok, it was actually two months…
So, I looked at how much we had in each category (if you want to know more about what I’m talking about, click here to read about our budget) and just made sure to not spend more than that. I didn’t know how much we’d be adding in to each category because my husband had just started a new job and wouldn’t get a full paycheck so I thought I’d be safe and work with the amounts we already had instead of trying to project.
I made sure that we didn’t overspend on Christmas or anything, figuring that was the best I could do for now until the printer wanted to cooperate and life settled down a little more.
Because, in my delusional postpartum brain, I thought that not overspending in any category was enough to keep the budget on track.
Because I forgot one epicly huge detail.
Credit cards charge interest.
And late fees.
And I didn’t log on to our bank account to do my budget the way I normally do. Paying off the credit card is the first step of every time I log on to go through the budget. I wasn’t going through the budget. The first step got missed.
I began to understand how people got lost under a mountain of credit card debt.
It had never made any sense to me before. Now I got it.
One month of late fees and interest was around $70. That might not be a ton of money but considering we only brought in a little over $500 that month, that’s a big percentage! And I’m lucky I caught it then. What if I kept letting that pile up? Month after month, more and more money getting burned up. Only not even that useful. That would at least provide fuel to a fire. This was money literally disappearing.
And it wasn’t the only side effect of dropped the budgeting ball. Oh no. Don’t let me off easy.
More Ill Effects
See, we also have two bank accounts. One has money in it, the other is nearly empty, just keeping it open. Well somehow, the debit card I use, that looks EXACTLY like the debit card my husband uses, draws from the wrong account. And I didn’t know it. Luckily, I use the credit card for almost all my purchase. But Winco won’t take credit cards. So I used my debit. Normally, I grocery shop with my husband and he swipes his card. This time, I went alone for some Christmas candy making supplies and used my card… Oops.
Yeah. So I over-drafted that account. And then there was another fee to kick in our overdraft protection.
Can I just say, it was a really bad budgeting day when I finally got around to doing it! I had lost us somewhere between $80-$90 just because I DIDN’T LOOK at my bank account. And it sucked. I felt terrible.
I sheepishly told my husband. He was super good about it. I vowed I would call the bank and see if they could help us out at all. He agreed I should give that a try. I wanted to cry but didn’t, mostly because my husband was so nice. I dropped the budgeting ball and I felt like I had lost the whole game.
While I did end up getting everything resolved with the bank the next day (bless them!), this was just the wake up call I needed.
Money Needs Managed
See, I had gotten pretty comfortable with money lately. In fact, I think I was getting a little cocky about it. I knew how to handle it. We’d saved up really well. Our financial situation was great. And I thought I could coast on that.
You can’t coast with money. Ever. It must be managed much like a toddler or a weed infested garden. You can NEVER sit back and ignore it.
How does credit card debt pile up until you are being crushed under its mountainous weight? You dropped the budgeting ball for one month. Maybe two. Maybe three. But it doesn’t take long. How do you end up drowning in any kind of debt? You only have to miss one month. One month and it can swallow you.
I don’t know. Maybe millionaires can sit back and coast. But I doubt it. Maybe they can ignore their money and it doesn’t color on the walls or get choked out by weeds. But I doubt it. I bet they just hire someone else to watch it and make sure it behaves itself.
Because money doesn’t behave itself.
That’s what I learned the month I dropped the budgeting ball.