Friday, October 16, 2009

Finding financial balance

You all know pretty well that I've been freaking out about finances for a while now. Today, the freak-out reached a new high as I waited for news from my mechanic. I needed a 100,000 mile service, a smog check, and a new headlight. I spent most of the morning gritting my teeth.

The car passed the smog check, new headlight is in, service found no major problems. It went as well as it could have gone. Still, it did cost money, and became the last thing that will fit on my credit card for a while.

I have spent the week getting set up on ExpenseRegister, inputting my expenses and income, credit card payments, etc. The site helps me categorize my expenses, and then it can run various reports for me. With just a week's worth of information, it's a little too soon to get a clear picture. Still, I've cut a few costs by a few dollars each a month, and I hope that the picture helps me set clearer goals. (My one complaint with the site: one of their handy-dandy calculators lets you input your income and then it tells you how much you should be spending on each of the categories. Great idea, but it doesn't take into account that the SoCal housing market just doesn't allow me to spend what I *should* be spending on rent, and the calculator doesn't let me adjust that amount to get the rest of the percentages make sense. If that makes any sense.)

As I waited earlier, I stressed. Still, it wasn't just the dollar amount I was stressing. I was mad at myself. I want to take responsibility for my actions, and I want to make things right for my family, and I was stressed and frustrated that I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong.

I still have no answer there, but I did finally figure one thing out. The car is done now. My registration will be paid on time. I won't be in danger of getting a ticket for the headlight. My car got the TLC it needs to run smoothly for me for another 3,000 miles (*knocking on wood*).

It's not like I spent $175 on a spa treatment! This was a necessary transportation cost. The expenditure was indeed a responsible thing to do.

I think it's time to relax my jaw a little.

10 comments:

Samantha said...

Cars, I tell you, they bring expenses when you can least afford them. I'm really excited to try out this new website you mentioned. Thanks for the rec.

Cat said...

Budgeting is tough. I use Quicken and just went through another round of belt tightening because I'm sick of being in debt. I'm glad your car's in a good place for a while though!

Natalie said...

Yep, old or new, cars always manage to bring on extra expenses. I have full confidence you'll figure it all out :)

rebelliousthoughtsofawoman.com said...

I watch everything. Never buying full price, and watching every penny. Then I get a $500 bill because I went to the doctor for a check-up and forgot that I tried to save $10 a month by going to a plan that requires a referral. Can we ever win?

hotmamamia said...

Do your best and know that you are...remember that you can't take it with you and your kids need to work too so they shouldn't be expecting anything at the end...tough love, but it is better to simply know that you are doing your best and it provides an important model for them too...watch the pennies...they add up...

Tara R. said...

I need to set a budget for my family too. With the loss of one income we are going to have to save wherever we can. I'm glad your car checked out okay, auto expenses can be huge.

MindyMom said...

I am right there with you girl. I'm pinching every penny I can right now and still have to put my groceries on credit cards. Like you, my car needs serviced yesterday and my registration is due soon. This is the worst possible time for these 'extras' to pop up since getting through the rest of the year is already a challenge. Hopefully it will get easier for us both very soon.

Shiona said...

Ugh the cars go wrong at the worst time. It is so hard to budget. Hopefully the site helped you even though nothing can account for the astronomical rent. Glad you were able to get your car squared away.

Subu said...

I stumbled upon this post about expenseRegister. I thought I'd comment about the issue you have with the budgeting feature since I run the site... Thanks for checking out expenseRegister.com!
The budget calculator splits your income into different categories using average amounts/percentages for each spending category. By default, it also allocates an amount for a category called 'Savings'. Lets say the amount in Savings is $200. Now if you'd like to increase the amount in Housing from $600 to $700, you could just type in $700 in Housing, the extra hundred is taken from Savings and savings amount goes down to $100. If you need to increase your Housing amount by more that $200, you'll need to reduce the allocated amount in some other category. Basically, the idea is to balance the amounts.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions or you could also post a question on the expenseRegister MessageBoard.

bernthis said...

i have to bring my piece of crap to the shop AGAIN. Like you and pretty much everyone I know, I too am strapped and the last thing I want right now is to give my money to my mechanic.