When it comes to planning and organizing, I am 100% Type A. You should have seen our first budget as a married couple; there were pages and pages of categories and formulas and colors. It was too specific. Because of the specificity, our first budget failed. Big time. I was trying to be far too precise and particular about tracking our money and telling it where to go. For example: under Little Daisy’s category, I had 5 budget lines. Why does an infant need 5 budget lines? I was also trying to track every transaction as it occurred. I would be checking our online banking at least once each day. You know what happened? I got tired, burnt out, and pissed that my day was now revolving around our money.
Fast forward 3 years and several other budget system fails: I’ve created a much simpler, visually pleasing, and easy to navigate budget. Even my free-spirit husband doesn’t mind sitting down to our weekly and monthly budget meetings. I still tweak it each month because life happens. Our daughter is getting older and we are hitting different milestones and seasons of life. Just like the world around us, our budget is a living thing. It evolves with the ebbs and flows of time. We have the quick weekly check-ins, the mid-month check, and the “big” end of the month/beginning of the next month meeting. Less is definitely more when it comes to our budgeting style.
But just when you think you’ve got said perfect balance and your system is flowing perfectly…BAM! In comes the budget buster! Crashing through your wall like the god damned Kool-Aid Man. Not just a $50 buster that you forgot to budget for. But a $600 vehicle repair that was most definitely NOT in your plans.
Mr. Daisy has been worried about his transfer case for about a month. We knew it was going to need replaced eventually. He crawled under yesterday and in his words, “It’s puking fluid. Needs fixed now.” But as he was under there he also noticed that the front ball joints were in bad shape, the water pump needed to be replaced, and might as well throw in the wipers while we’re at it. Before our balanced budgeting days, I would have had a mini meltdown any time something popped up that I hadn’t accounted for.
Now that I’m in my budget-Zen mode, I take a few breaths and look at the bright side:
It is natural and automatic to immediately compartmentalize unplanned and unfortunate setbacks into the “The Sky is Falling” category. It’s something that I did for a really, really long time. I would get frustrated and give up on budgeting and gaining control over our finances. It was difficult for me to see that light at the end of the tunnel and still is sometimes. If this would have been a $3000 repair, I would have panicked. No doubt about that. In my struggle to become more calm and Zen with our budgeting and finances; I am trying to teach myself that much (if not all) of life is about balance. It’s about understanding which situations require calmness and which require an intense approach. Does this small thing really require an argument with my husband? Does the plant that Little Daisy accidentally knocked over validate me losing my patience?
It’s nothing groundbreaking on how I handle budget busters and life setbacks in general. I attempt to find and keep stability, get back up from whatever set back it is, notch it in my brain for future reference, and move on. It may require creative tweaking in next month’s budget, but life will go on with or without me pouting about something. There’s no room for hostility towards something I cannot control when there’s an adorable three year old asking me to play Candy Land with her.
My original ambition for starting this blog was to share my family’s real…