One reason I did the budget was that things were running away from us and like Julia said in the comments yesterday the coffee here and muffin there soon adds up. I really do feel more in control now.
But the other reason was that to be truly sustainable, we have to be living within our money framework too. Being in debt is not sustainable and money worries are anxieties are not good for relationships. It also fitted in with my word for this year which was getting organized.
I do wonder though if we get too reliant on money, we let it have too much power, yes we need it and so do other people but we can limit its grip on our soul by stepping away from the ideas that the media and other places try to sell us that stuff/gadgets/cars/jewellery etc make you happy. I love the idea of a society in which we share more skills and trade more of what we do. I have a few friends who I trade with and is is quite fun.
The emotional difference from this week to last week is quite amazing. I was on my friend Carle’s farm last Wednesday, tired from no sleep, frustrated with a toddler who was just being a toddler and feeling totally freaked out about all the money issues and worries. The day before I had been reading getting organized tips and had been reminded of the envelope system which I had heard about years ago, I thought it would be good to do and figured that with the chaos and lack of time I would never get it done.
Carle noticed I was not feeling get and probed a bit and I just gushed it all out about how worried I was about the money and how things just seemed to be getting away from us. I mentioned that I wanted to do the envelope system and she said how they had done it when money was very tight. It had worked very well, made you aware and accountable for the money you spent and helped to save for the annual expenses, so that it was not a crisis when the car needs servicing etc. She also made me set a date buy which would do it – my clever friend knows I can get a bit overwhelmed and then not do anything. I said I would do it by the end of the weekend and I did.
We don’t have any more money than we had a week ago but we do have a plan, we have control and we can do better and make our lives less stressful. Looking at it all on paper has shown me ways that I can cut money and how we can save and move things around.
When I first planned to do the budget I spoke to my mom, who I knew ran our family finances, on a very tight budget, when we were growing up and there was not much money. I had arranged to meet with her last night when she would be in Cape Town. I never actually thought I would have managed to organise it all so well on my own, so really, it was just going over what I had done, and her suggesting a few things. But because I have the most awesome parents alive there is now a portion of our debt that no longer exists. She said it was a down payment on their geriatric care 😉 There is now a bit more money to try pay the rest off faster and not just cover the interest we owe
What I learnt about money and sustainability
1) Debt is not sustainable
2) Step away evaluate what you really do need and remember money and things do not make you happy – relationship do, but debt and money worries can poison relationships so it is a fine line.
3) talk about it, other people are struggling too
4) Find people to hold you accountable to get the budget on paper
5) Find a system that works for you, I knew I had tried less drastic measures like spreadsheets before and it had not worked for me
6) Make the focus paying off the debt
7) There is a huge emotional relief in having a plan, it is like a life raft, you may not be totally out of the deep water yet but you are no longer drowning.