Friday, October 08, 2004

I'm Back

I hate budgeting. In August, I left my full-time job as English professor to stay home with N, but it has become a part-time job in itself to budget the remaining money we have coming in. I want to buy things for the house and yard, buy presents for Christmas, buy some goodies at the grocery, but we are on a budget now. Yes, it's self-imposed because D isn't a "buyer" unless it's computer or electronics related. Here's the part that sticks in my throat. I've managed to build up a large cushion of savings for us through the flush years, which I'm now trying to ignore (emergency money for future needs - D's car may die soon and N is having surgery in January, then there's the new baby due in March). As I look at all my budget categories that are already spent for October, I wonder why I can't buy some seed and maybe a few bulbs that send me even further over budget, and just let the emergency cushion absorb the cost. What's $20 out of the greater sum? And then I feel like a cheater because, as the family financier, I'm supposed to be working on keeping us secure for now and for the future. I'm not much of a dieter, but it feels like I'm trying to stick to a strict diet, and wanting to have a dessert at every turn.

I started off trying to use Quicken's budget function, but the way it has me enter the salary deposits to our accounts doesn't subtract withholdings properly on the budget spreadsheet. I also still can't get our mortgage and HELOC payments properly split toward their appropriate budget/account categories. I liked the earlier version of Quicken much better. I finally gave up and used this simple yet effective free budget tool, then wrote myself a budget in a binder filled with college ruled paper. A few sharpened pencils with good erasers, a calculator, and now I'm in business. And hating it.

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