I have to admit, when I finally found a full-time job two months ago, my husband and I temporarily lost sight of our goals. It started with a celebratory dinner, which we had been planning since I started the job search process. But then we found our financial plans quickly derailed by several dinners out per month, some out of control shopping trips, and a general spending craze.
For the first time in a year, we were making enough money to cover our expenses with a little left over, so we succumbed to the urge to spend more. That was exactly what I wanted to avoid, but it’s a tough temptation to resist. It was easy to spend less when we had no money to spend; it’s a little harder to make the right choices when you do have extra money.
I also partly blame a “honeymoon mentality” that extended beyond our actual honeymoon. We agreed that we could afford a little extravagance on our honeymoon because we’d worked hard to save and we’d chosen a frugal destination (Washington D.C.) for our trip. We were only gone for a week, but I was hired at my job the week after we returned, and the extra income paired with the temporary lapse in frugality was enough to bump us off track.
Now I’m looking at our finances and realizing that even a full-time salary doesn’t go as far as you’d like without proper budgeting and goals.
With a new income, new budget, and new goals, I feel like I’m starting all over again. For the past year, the goal has been to keep from financially drowning without feeling financially deprived. Now we’ve got the opportunity to make real choices with our money, and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.
I’ve updated our budget to include additional debt repayment and savings that we couldn’t afford before, but now it’s balanced with nothing left over. I need to find a way to magically find additional money to put toward debt and savings if we want to reach our goals, so my first step is finding ways to cut back on spending we can control.