Monday, September 8, 2008

The "B" Word... Budget

A few years ago, I created a full spreadsheet budget. This baby has everything down to formulas for income to expense ratio (a truly scary experience when you realize what that is.) Every year I faithfully sit down and figure changes to the budget while trying to tweak it to get the optimal debt repayment plan. And then life happens... the gift you've got to pick up... the dish you're supposed to bring to the potluck but unexpectedly ran out of a crucial ingredient... the long distance drive that brought the gas tank down to empty.

My budgets never give me enough elbow room to deal with the little things. As a result, my progress on debt repayment is more like two steps forward and one step back. Tonight I took two very big steps forward. I cut up all of my credit cards. I haven't abused them like I did when I started this mess, but I still fall back on them when my budget didn't make it. I just solved that problem with a couple of snips. That safety net doesn't exist anymore. The second step was evaluating just how short my budget really is. I figured out that I need to increase my income by $150 per month because I don't have any give until I can pay off two minor debts. Those two are my focus with a plan of taking them off the board in the next two weeks.

Moral of the story... BE REALISTIC.