Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Budget is $200 lighter!

And I feel like I've shed 20 pounds!!

I've been staring at my budget on and off for a week and a half now, trying to find more ways to stop living so close to the edge. I've resigned myself to being a paycheck-to-paycheck person, but I'd like there to be at least a 2-digit number between my budget and my income. I've been whining venting, crying, calculating; basically stressing about it.

Then this post on Since My Divorce really made me ponder just how much I was trying to overcompensate as a single parent.

Most parents want to give their children everything; maybe not every tangible thing, but the sense that their children have the best of opportunities available. And it's not like I've never used the phrase "we can't afford it" ever before. Sometimes, though, I get concerned that I use it all too often.

I went back to the spreadsheet after I got the news that we'd been approved for partial financial aid for their after-school program. It's still $60 more than I'd originally thought, but $80 less than without the aid.

As I crunched the numbers again, I looked at the row for Therapy. It's a steal, practically, at $30 a week, but that still adds up to $120 a month.

My girls, while far from being perfect, are in pretty good emotional health right now. They haven't talked to their dad since they saw him, but it doesn't seem to be a thorn in their side right now. Our dilemmas are more of the garden variety; I've got a moody adolescent on my hands, and there are too many places we need to be at once. Just typical family stuff.

So I emailed their therapist and told her that I was canceling their weekly appointments, and would call on an as-needed basis. It's not a need at this point and I'm pretty confident that my children won't go off the rails because they're not in regular therapy anymore.

Just like that, there is a little bit of breathing room between our expenses and my income. I still need to be frugal, and I'm nowhere near Suze Orman's financial goal of 8 months' savings. I still have to work on getting my credit card debt down and I will continue to look at my budget critically and regularly, but I no longer feel like I'm living on the financial edge. And that feels good.

*edited to add: Please visit the virtual baby shower today for Kori's daughter.


BigLittleWolf said...

Good for you!

Unfortunately, no matter what I cut, something else pops up. The brink of disaster keeps getting closer, at alarming speed. At a certain point, there's nothing more you can cut. For some of us - between layoffs and child support that is apparently unenforceable, there are no solutions.

But it encourages me when I read that someone else has found some.

Thank you for this.

Tara R. said...

I really need to develop some sort of budget. My bank account has been hemorrhaging for a long time.

Yvonne Condes said...

Good for you for taking these steps. I'm inspired by you and I'm going to try (again) to put together a budget. Uggh

Erica said...

I think the 8 month Suze Orman thing is a little extreme anyway. But doesn't it feel good when you free up some breathing room? Hooray!

Pippi said...

I think that's good. Therapy can become a crutch if used unnecessarily, as I'm sure you are well aware. I hope it works out well.

Mandy said...

Well done! I know exactly what you mean about feeling lighter.

The phrase I like to use rather than "I can't afford it" (because few of us can afford everything) is "that's not what I want to spend my money on." With my kids, this allows me to talk about competing demands and for me it makes me more mindful of what I do choose spend the money one. I've found that being more mindful makes me happier with my purchases.

Thansk for the shout-out!