This week I started working on my financial budget draft. I always make my own. I’ve tried using other people’s templates, but I always need so much customization that they never work for me. I start adding fields and changing records and screwing up the built-in functions, and by the time I’m done, I might as well have started from scratch. So, that’s what I am doing.
It’s good work and I am glad I am doing it, but it does make you look at the realities of life. Already I have caught a couple little rough spots. For example, I prefer to think of bills on a month to month basis. Some bills, however, are quarterly or semiannual; insurance is a good example. My life insurance bills quarterly, my auto semiannually. Since I hate “surprise” bills (I always forget when those are going to hit), I simplify things by adding up everything and dividing by twelve, then each month I direct that portion to a separate savings account. Basically it allows me to account for them all on a monthly basis – and I know I always have funds available. The bill comes and I just pull it out of the account. It’s nice, but what I realized this week is that my auto insurance went up a bit recently and I wasn’t accounting for that increase. Not a big deal, but it is a danger with the “set and forget” method.
For several years I lived and breathed by my budget – day in, day out. I went through a rough patch after my divorce and I had to really keep an eye on things for a while. The last few years I haven’t been tracking it as much. Now that I have some goals that involve sums of cash, it’s time to get back to it. I’d like to look at joining a gym or taking classes, but I need to see how much I can swing. I also am determined to have that roof rack for my car by early spring so I will be ready to bike and kayak when the warm weather hits.
Here’s what I can tell so far – on my base salary I am fine. There isn’t a lot of extra wiggle room, but it’s fine. However, my company also offers quarterly profit-sharing. Presently I’ve been using that for my discretionary spending. If I have goals I want to meet, I am going to be a lot more deliberate in how that money is handled.
I’m planning on handling my finances more or less like I handled my weight loss. I’m figuring out my goals, looking at my options, and am going to move forward using a combination of tried and true wisdom mixed a fair amount of gut instinct. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Photo credit: Tax Credit on flickr