Money Makeover — In Which We Totally Regroup

It’s time to “put our past in our behind,” as it were.  The first eight months of this year were enlightening, and a little frightening.  We learned some lessons, we swam some rough waters, and now it’s time to regroup.

The plan was to regroup in August.  But August and early September had bigger challenges for us, so I drastically cut spending here at home, found travel deals where I could, and kept a tight leash on every penny I could.  The money we spent for the family emergency travel went into a new category.  We hadn’t budgeted for this.  We had the emergency funds to cover it all, thankfully, but it wasn’t accounted for in the monthly budget.  So, a new category helped keep the numbers accurate, while not upsetting the budget process.  Our regrouping is now taking us to a monthly budget preview and review, rather than trying to stick to the annual estimated budget, which was planned out monthly in January.  Things always change; we have to be flexible.  I also think lightly touching base during the month will help.

So what I did was this:  I planned out our monthly spending at the end of August for September.  This monthly thing is more work, but more accurate.  Surprise!  There were some pending September items that I had expected in October, some expenses deferred from August, and the decision to forego dental work until springtime.  Additionally, we found out one vehicle has tire rot (yes, it’s a thing) so we had to budget for new ones this month.

We had to cut expenses everywhere else we could.  I reduced groceries to “super scrimp budget,” eliminated non-essentials, and voila!  We’re at a zero budget!  Sticking to it is the challenge for us this month.  We’ll be sitting down this weekend, since it’s the two-week mark, to make sure we’re on the same page.

I think a monthly review/preview sit-down will really help us.  And mid-month check-in will also help.  The challenge is going to be making the time to do it.  Evenings are pretty much out.  Weekends can be crazy nuts, with all kinds of cross-scheduling.  But, in order to make this work, we’re just going to have to make the time.

It was one foot in front of the other to get here.  Just a careful, methodical whittling away at the least necessary items, then finding alternatives that would work in lieu of spending money, repeat.  Yes, it’s work, but it has to be done.  This month’s budget took longer than I thought it would, considering it was just for one month.  But, I won’t have to revisit it as much, I don’t think, except to check real-time progress.

What helped with this month’s planning was finding supplies and materials I already have to get us through more than a month of cleaning, maintenance and planned repair projects.  And pantry/freezer inventory to prove we are abundantly blessed!  Currently I am under budget for the month’s groceries — woohoo!  And my income streams are bringing in a little more than originally budgeted.

So, the budget is doable!  And now every month we’ll be sitting down to review and preview.  That’s the plan.  Regrouping isn’t so bad, after all, if you do it in small steps.



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