A budget. We all have one, or at least something that resembles one. But have you ever noticed how four pairs of shoes, even on sale, just seem to blow away a monthly allowance entitled “extras”. This month Rook needed new winter boots and new dress shoes because his feet grew a size and a half over night! Tim needed new winter shoes and I needed a new pair of tennis shoes.
We allow $100.00 a month for “extras”. We blew that allowance with exactly one purchase of four pairs of shoes. Going over about $25.00. Of course that means that next month I only get $75.00. But, what about the oil change that is due this month? Or the new supply of socks that you put off last month into this month because “extras” went over last month as well?????
STRESS! STRESS! STRESS!
You get the picture. Four years ago Tim and I had no problems with our “extras”. We handed over our credit card and said those magic two words – “Charge it!”
The problem of course was we never budgeted for those extras. The monthly bill was budgeted at – $100.00. Well as you can see from the example above we clearly could exceed that limit in the blink of an eye! We were going into debt fast.
The biggest, blow out, argument we have ever had happened four years ago. It was the day that I left the Visa bill laying on the kitchen table. Our debt was looking Tim right in the eye balls and he didn’t like what was looking back at him. A three hour argument ensued. It began with “We can’t afford children. We can’t even afford ourselves!” and ended with a pile of cut up credit cards. (Ahhh, stress floating away.) We felt like we were getting a grip and getting back to reality. Yep, we cut them up. We cut up every Hudson’s, JCPenny, Visa, MasterCard, all of them. We vowed to buy only when we had the cash to make the purchase and save when we need something beyond a $100.00. It took practice!
Now three years and a consolidated loan later, we are no longer getting ourselves into debt. We are digging ourselves out of it. Yes, it means going without. Our television tube blew over a year ago, so we are watching TV on our playroom, half pint size viewer for now. Someday we will set money aside in the “new TV” envelope, but it just hasn’t made it to the top ten on our list. We were also in desperate need of a new refrigerator. Ours was inherited from my grandmother and was at least forty years old. Not having the available cash for a thousand dollar fridge we waited. And waited..
When my parents moved into their new house they had an extra and gladly gave it to us. We were very happy. Hmmm, happy? Happy that we didn’t create the stress of going even further into debt. Like opening one of those “wait a year and pay no interest deals.” We did that when we moved into our new home and purchased two rooms of carpeting with a year to pay for it. It didn’t work for us. We were too busy paying the other credit cards, bills and gee don’t forget food!
Tim and I never argue about money since we cut those cards up. It actually seems as though we have more money now that we don’t have those cards. Well, DUH! We do. Have you ever really looked at the amount of interest you have to pay on one of those cards. I’m saying myself hundreds just by not having “The Card”. What a vicious cycle. My head spins just thinking about it… Oh wait I don’t have any, whew. I feel better now.
The lesson here is there are always “extras” and it is just too easy to say “Charge it”, so get rid of the cards and if you don’t have the money, don’t buy it! You will start living in Harmony the minute you get out the scissors.