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The Final Fail

ftk book club girl
First, important info— I will be on Book Club Girl Talk Radio tonight at 7 PM to discuss SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY. This is not a CHAT, like with typing. This is actual human talking. Here is all the info and instructions on how to join.

Please come chat with me! I will be snowed in by a blizzard and ready for some company.

Okay, by Blizzard I mean “inch of Snow,” but this is Georgia, so even as I type, panicked herds of wild-eyed Southerners are descending on Publix and stabbing each other to get at the milk and bread and bottled water. Because those who do NOT get the milk and bread and bottled water are going to die of snow. FACT. (Or they might die of being stabbed in the water/milk/bread free for all. Six of one.)

Okay so, one of my millions of New Year’s Resolutions is to be more fiscally responsible. I really only have ONE NYR, and it can be summed up by saying BLOG MORE. I feel like BLOG MORE is a mysterious word in an ancient language and it can mean SO much.


DIGRESSION: The best part of this resolution is that it is UNFAILABLE. Because I can do it at any given second and part of blog more is a decision to try not to regret or worry, but just be very about NOW. I can go from not winning much to completely winning at all life ANY SECOND I WANT.

Like right now, I am winning. Four minutes ago I was standing in the pantry stealthily eating transgressive Speculoos cookies in my sock feet. But that was four minutes ago. *shrug* I stopped eating them and put on boots and NOW I am BLOG MORE. Win.

ALSO I SAID I would blog this fail and then didn’t for WEEKS but tra la LOOK! It is really happening right now. #winningbutnotlikesheenwithhookersjustregular

Scott and I are POUND WISE but we can be penny foolish. So in order to be more fiscally responsible, Scott and I decided to take a class on how to set up a more rigorous tracking budget and see where we are leaking little moneys into crap we do not care about.

The class reminded me both how subjective experience is, and how virulently pragmatic we are. We are so pragmatic that we wholly absolve the Donner party. Speculoos cookie, anyone?

Our teacher was an idealist. She felt all the feels. She felt all the feels about BUDGETS.

SomeoneElses BLOG SIZE She would make us look in a mirror and say slogans about fiscal responsibility to our images, which I found skin-crawlingly uncomfortable. I just wanted to learn to use spread sheets.

She would want us to chant motivational sentences about budgets for candy. I wanted to eat candy while silently learning to use spread sheets.

She showed us beans. I still do not understand the beans, but they were meaningful in some kind of budgetary way. Or possibly a metaphor. I did not want meaningful legumes. I wanted a spread sheet.

She was very UNICORN SPIRIT ANIMAL about the budget inventing process. For example she wanted us to handwrite it so that we could CONNECT EMOTIONALLY to our budget. I don’t want to connect to it—-

Can you guess what I want? It rhymes with Thpread Theet. (Another correct answer rhymes with Thpeculoos Thookie)

Also, says the pragmatist, if I handwrite it, there is no FAST EDITING. You have to REWRITE the whole thing and I want to learn to ZIP LINE and I want to make out with my cat, and those are things I can’t do if I have to handwrite my budget over and over. Also on the computer, IT will do the math, and if I handwrite, I have to do math.

Digression: Last week I had to deposit six little checks that were all weird amounts, and I tried to add them up four times and got four different answers before thrusting them in a tear stained wad at a kind teller and saying HELP I AM NON COMPOS MATHOS.

And yet I just ran into a girl who took the class all the way to end (Scott and Idid something that rhymes with Thropped Thout) and she is all life changed and budgeted.

In other words, it worked. The class worked, and she loved every second of it. She even understood the BEANS.

So in the spirit of BLOG MORE I am trying to decide. Should I go back this next time (I can go again free) and be all meadowy and unicorn up some beanly budget gung ho and MAKE IT WORK? Or should I just find a class taught by a dry, fast pragmatist who will say I WILL NOW DISSEMINATE INFORMATION. LET US MAKE A SPREAD SHEET! Even though I have to find a whole new class? Or should I just use something online? Any recs? How do you do it?

Also, while I am revamping my spending practices, how much should I budget monthly for MY DOG HAVING LEAF EYE?

21 comments to The Final Fail

  • Martha

    I read the book “Your Money or Your Life” and liked it. But I am naturally cheap. I have not taken any classes though. I even read The Tightwad Gazette – several times. This also reinforced my frugal nature.

    Perhaps you could take a different class? Or the same class with a less weird teacher?

    For what it’s worth, my husband and I have resolved to see a financial planner sometime in 2014 now that we are getting old and need to start thinking about retirement. Really. We’re going to do it. And make a will. For reals.

  • We kinda sorta do a Dave Ramseyish thing with cash in envelopes meaning we set aside so much each month for Walmart/ grocery stuff and so much for “family fun” which is the eating out and movie going, and so much for dry cleaning. The rest of our stuff is done through online bill paying. We have cash. We have a checkbook that stays at home and is used for kids lunch accounts and church donation, and we have a credit card for gas, doctors, and leaf eye emergencies. I would also suggest a couple of $20 bills in your purse for discretionary spending. I have no taste for expensive coffees of any sort, but lucky me. . .my beverage of choice goes on sale at Sonic every afternoon from 2-4 and is served over the best ice on the planet. We try to be frugal and are, but leaf eye emergencies happen.

  • Melinda

    Okay, here is what I finally did that didn’t make me want to eat cookies or stab anyone:

    I did this workbook to learn about stuff: http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/FL_500.pdf
    Then I downloaded the YNAB (YOU NEED A BUDGET) program and learned how to use their system. They are super chatty, helpful, thrifty and good cheerleaders: http://www.youneedabudget.com/

    I’m not awesome at it, but I’m so much more aware.

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    You lived in Chicago so I know that you have experienced serious snow — I am wondering if those in the South get so crazy over a small amount of snow not because they actually think that they can’t drive/funcion/operate in it, but because they feel betrayed. Like “this is the reason we live in the South – so we don’t have to deal with this white stuff so what is it doing here?”

    My hubby has his degree in finance so he handles the budgeting. He just tells me “don’t spend ANY money.” 🙂

    P.S. The lady who teaches your class sounds really weird. Talking to yourselves in the mirror? Did you make that up?

  • DebR

    If all you want is a spreadsheet to track spending down to the penny, surely there’s one somewhere online? I don’t know where because I don’t do that (probably should, but don’t) but isn’t pretty much everything online these days? I don’t see any point in going back to the same class a second time if the teacher’s Style of Budget doesn’t match your desired Style of Budget. If you want classic black trousers and a laptop, is putting on a peasant skirt and learning how to thrip through a meadow feeding magic beans to unicorns while handwriting a calligraphy budget in your journal going to make you feel more yay-ish or more stabby? I’m guessing stabby. Life’s too short to feel unnecessarily stabby. Save that for the pre-blizzard bread aisle. 😀

  • Jenn

    Generally I don’t picture budget gurus as having unicorns as their spirit animals. Some other spirit animal, although I have no idea what. But anyway, I don’t think becoming emotionally one with your budget makes it any easier. I think budgets are hard for most people and for many different reasons. You just have to keep trying and find what works for you. And I think you also need to keep them as simple as possible. I recently stumbled across this site where she has a different approach: http://funcheaporfree.com/. Maybe something like that would work for you. And Pear Budgets is a nice spreadsheet system. This time around I’m stumbling on how to handle all those miscellaneous, not quite annual expenses like dance classes, copays, and farm veggies.

  • Belated thanks! Reading your post this a.m. (with coffee & in jammies) and you mentioned the impending Decatur Snopocalypse, so I open my blinds and what do I see? Snow afallin’ white and steady. So I rushed out knowing I had to beat you to the Publix so you wouldn’t stab me while I was reaching for bread & milk & bottled water. Back safe, unstabbed! So I figured I owe you a shout out. Stay warm.

  • Good grief. I’m a cpa, and I have a hard time believing anyone who deals with numbers and budgets could be UNICORN SPIRIT ANIMAL and want you to CONNECT EMOTIONALLY to your budget (well, except for a young friend who just finished her masters in Accounting, is working on her doctorate and professes to love accounting with a deep passionate love only surpassed by that of her love for her finacee – and she doesn’t count, because she is going to teach instead of doing real-life accounting (there is a vast difference)).

    Anyway…feel free to e-mail me if you want a spreadsheet – we can talk.

  • We use Google Drive (which is like Microsoft office only Google and free and online so you can share it with your significant other). We never deal in cash and we rarely write checks. We go through our budget and spending every Saturday morning over coffee. I hate Hate HATE HATE budgets, but I would spend all the monies without realizing it without one. So.

  • Samantha

    Hi! I’m up here in Canada, so I’m all for the pragmatism, eh! (And the ‘outta my way’ for the milk and cookies when it snows).
    The greatest budgeter I’ve ever seen SHARES her spreadsheet with the world, makes it all colour coded and pre-mathed! Then you can go read the blog if you want a side of unicorns with that.
    Check it out: http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/resources/interactive_budget_worksheet.html
    (there’s a very tiny ‘Download Excel version’ at the very bottom)

    Hmmm … is it just me, or does she look a little like you??

  • Jessica (the celt)

    Okay, so here is what I think, since you asked. I am a Thpread Theet person as well, and if I had to write long-hand a budget, I would never, ever, not ever budget at all, ever. Never. I have kept a spreadsheet budget since before I got married, and when I got married I easily added my husband into it with no issues. If I had to connect with my budget via handwriting, my budget would be sitting in the corner of the bar, staring at me with sad, round, little eyes (slightly filled with salty tears) while it nursed its one beer (it IS a budget, after all) and watched me go out with Cash. Because I budget, however, I rarely go out with Cash, because Cash just entices me to spend much more than I expected and then Cash disappears and I have no clue where he went. (I can never account for Cash at the end of the day, and what kind of relationship is that? A crappy one, that’s what kind.) Instead, Budget and I go out and we are also friends with Debit, who makes sure that I go home and put my receipts in my Thpread Theet. (Sometimes we go out with Credit, but he isn’t a loaner like most people think he is. He likes to be settled up every month, or he makes me really angry with him by asking for even more than I gave him in the first place. I can’t abide that, so we have a casual acquaintance that is based around making sure he doesn’t get me in trouble. He does give me a check back every so often, though, which is actually like making money, because I’m not actually spending any ON HIM.)

    Anyway, I say find a class that helps you learn to budget in the way that you will actually KEEP BUDGETING, because if you are not a feely-feels budgeter, then you will not budget if you are taught feely-feels budgeting. If you are a Dragnet budgeter, then you will continue to budget rationally and with all the necessary facts, but with no extraneous feely-feels to get in the way of your budgeting.

  • YouNeedABudget.com. Seriously. It’s software and all you do is add a transaction (there’s an app!) and it all goes to the right place. No spreadsheet needed!
    I sound all evangelical. But it changed my LIFE! I pay bills! I have savings!

  • BerniG

    I did it in kind of a cheating way. I married an accountant. He makes spread sheets for everything!

  • Summer

    I’ll give the answer to the why of the southern snow crazy. We get duped a lot. We have become the person who heard Wolf cried in a blood curling frenzy one too many times, got snow dust instead and said, meh..

    We don’t have snow plows or sanding trucks, or any of that in place for if and when it actually does actually snow.

    We cannot drive on ice. A layer of ice is what we usually get first, then the snow.
    There is a layer of solid ice underneath the snow. Truckers can’t drive on it, they jack knife, cars are stuck behind them, traffic comes to a halt.

    I rest my snow case.

  • Middling

    I second YouNeedABudget, but I also know several people who swear by Mint.com (which has the advantage of living online). Back away from the unicorns. They will only lead you astray.

  • Back in the day my hubby and I used Quicken, but it wasn’t logical (and we are both numbers people). I’m sure there are better ones out there now that are fun and spreadsheety. I’d leave that lady to her financial happy place.

  • Therese

    I think accounting goes with feeling-feely unicorns about like anchovies with chocolate mint ice cream. Like, not at all!

    Some fab ideas in previous comments, so I will, in fact, be looking into them, myself.

    Also, your University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has some good possibilities in the family $$$ arena:

  • Katie in CA

    We used mint.com for awhile. It imports all your accounts to one place and then you categorize the transactions. But it was too easy. I needed to write down what was spending where. So we switched to a spread sheet. Four columns that add at the end. Dog Leaf Eye would come under “non budgeted items,” or everything else that doesn’t fit in a good place.

  • Jill

    The Dave Ramsey cash envelopes work for me. I only use my debit card for gasoline now.

  • Frances in England

    Unless you have become more Unicorn-y in the interim, I’d go find someone more suited to your outlook.

    Or have a go at drafting your own spreadsheet? It doesn’t have to be complicated: House (e.g. repairs), Food, Transport, School…

  • Summer

    I’m with Tara…YNAB (You Need a Budget) has so completely made my financial life better. Or rather, it’s made me have one. I didn’t like to think, talk about or work on money/budget stuff, but this product(?) and app I could almost get poetical about. You can absolutely track where all those pennies go quite painlessly. You don’t even have to make a spreadsheet. Unless you want to. Wish I’d found it at 16 instead of 36 but *shrug*… Oh! You can also watch many free classes from home in comfy clothes not fit for the outside world and shut it all off if your mind wanders. Or, like me, you can watch the bare minimum to get started but feel very pleased that you have access to far more material :).

    In my expert opinion, you should budget (at least) 3 times the last LEAF EYE charge, because subsequent illnesses of the same time can triple on the next emergency vet trip. Example, 2 years ago pancreatitis treated at my vet’s clinic for 2 weeks was approx 2.5 times less than treatment for the same 1 year ago for one week’s duration.