Monday, May 30, 2011


From Oct 20, 2009
When I really need to, because money is very tight or I really want something, I can  stick  to my spending plan, aka budget,  like glue. But there are times when I drift and stop paying attention to what my money is doing.  Unfortunately these periods of inattention are usually ended by the solid reality check of being overdrawn or receiving a utility shut off notice.

I recently managed to over draw not one, but TWO! checking accounts. I have decided I really need something that will make me sit up and pay attention for the rest of my life.

Enter YNAB, or You Need A Budget software. This software doesn’t do a lot of fancy graphs and charts, doesn’t make projections or plot trends in  your spending. It is a very simple and easy to use program that tracks your income and  out go  each month. There is a 7 day free trial, but I think I went ahead and bought it about day 3.

Now I could probably go back to my old paper and calculator style budget, but I’m hoping that with YNAB open on the computer most of the time, where I am staring at it on a daily basis, maybe, just maybe there will be no more financial crisis in my life.

So far, so good. I started on Oct 8 and since then not one penny of my money has been frittered away mindlessly. It is all there sitting in the bank, waiting for 1) my new box of checks to arrive and 2) my next paycheck to come in on Oct 23.

The next few months will be slow going. While I have no credit card debt (I have already been down that road to the tune of $18,000. No thanks, not ever again.) I do have a line of credit on my home, payments on my van and a line of credit on my checking account that kicks in when I’m in overdraft. Funny how that works; my checking account hits the red and instead of charging me a fee, the bank just gives me more money!

In addition to these and the basic monthly bills, in November my property taxes are due along with my house insurance. So I am trying to squeeze every dime to pay the insurance (there is NO grace period) and at least the first half of the taxes, because they will go to 15% at 5:00 pm on Nov 2. The second half is then due in March.

But I have a plan. I will carefully follow my YNAB. I will not spend a single extra penny. In fact now that I am focused on my money I will try to come in under budget in every category so that I can put some money in the bank for emergencies. A little cushion to smooth out the bumps in the road.

One of the ways I will do this for the next few weeks is to eat down my food stores. I have been spending a lot of money at the grocery store this summer because they had some terrific sales. I canned and dried a lot of fruits and veggies, both from the store and from my garden. Therefore my cupboards are stuffed. I’ll need some meat and some milk, but otherwise things are looking good on the food front. While I do have $100 left in my grocery budget for this month I may very well be able to do it for under $75.00.

For some tips on how to save money you can check out an article I wrote for Associated Content, Seven Ways to Save Money Today

[edit; May 31, 2011 Not only did I meet my goals as above, I achieved my buffer, that is, having all the money I need for the month in the bank on the first day of the month in July 2010. That has been such a great stress reliever, you wouldn't believe it. At this time my van is paid for, I owe less than $5000 on the house and I'm going to take my second trip to Italy this summer. ]

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