Mint.com, Budgets, and Meal Planning

In preparing to try to have a baby this fall, my husband and I wanted to seriously sit down and look at our finances. I fell in love with the site Mint.com. It automatically takes all our financial info from all our accounts and puts it together on one page. It also has great graphics and easy to use interface. The first month we just lived life and let Mint.com track how much we spent on various different things (groceries, home goods, debt, going out, etc. . .) We learned that we LOVE going out to eat and easily identified areas that we could try to cut back on to save money. We set our goals and were happy.

 

It’s the end of month two and while we set goals, we didn’t meet most of them. We did manage to spend ZERO dollars on ATM fees (yay) but spent just as much on going out as we had the month before even though we were putting a conscious effort into not doing so. Blah. To try to correct this for next month, I am going to attempt to try a very grown up thing, meal planning (gasp). I’ve always thought the idea of meal planning sounded silly, but I now see it’s merit. It seems like it’ll be a great tool to not waste food and to avoid those dreaded sentences, “What are we having for dinner? Let’s just get take-out.”

The positive thing though is that even though we didn’t meet our goals, we have plenty of money to work with if we could only have better discipline. My mind excites with the possibilities of what we could do with all that money if it wasn’t being spent on Chipotle and Red Robin. Here’s to hoping we meet some of our goals next month!!

 

What are your favorite meal planning sites or ideas? I’d also love any tips to sticking to a budget!

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Money, money, money. . . MONEY!!!

I hope you can hear the OJ’s song “For the love of money” when you read my title ūüôā You can watch them here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9O8gTib5rnw¬†Anyway, back to my issues.¬†I have emotional issues with money. The thought of paying the power bill stresses me out even though we can totally afford it. I think, like all my other mental gunk, that it stems from my childhood. Don’t all of our adult problems?! I grew up poor. I saw my family make silly mistakes. Bankruptcies, foreclosures,¬†repossessions, ¬†collection calls, going to bed hungry, not being able to be on the soccer team, all of these things were a part of my life growing up. Because of this I vowed to try harder, go to college, and be able to support myself as an adult. I got my first job before I turned 16 so that I could start working as soon as I was legal. I spent ages 16-17 living with my father, then a friend, then my mother. My parents did the best they could, but I wasn’t supported by my parents in the way that I needed and felt that I was solely responsible for my life, both at that moment and in the future.¬†As a high-schooler, I paid for my own gas and groceries. I diligently applied for scholarships and¬†received¬†the most scholarships of anyone in my graduating class. Life was chaotic for me in those years and I was being asked to be an adult at a young age, but I was going to break the cycle and get out no matter what!

My husband and I moved in together when I was only 17. We had zero help from our¬†families¬†and were completely on our own to pay all of our living expenses and my college tuition. I was a full-time college student and full-time pre-school teacher. He was a full-time golf course worker. We both worked hard in our younger years, but because of bad role modeling and immaturity we made a few small mistakes with our money; little credit cards that we shouldn’t have got, buying too many candle holders from Target, forgetting to pay our cable bill and having it turned off, and going out much too often! Each time we slipped up, I was transported back to my youth where money was an emotional thing. Getting my cable turned off made me feel like a bad person. Having to take out student loans to pay for college made me feel like a bad person. Buying that candle holder instead of saving made me feel like a bad person. Over the years I worked on my emotional ties with money. I tried to learn to allow myself to make mistakes. I¬†attempted¬†to put my financial situation in perspective with my past and the responsibility I had to take on early in life, but it was still hard. I was surrounded my peers who were given so much that I either didn’t have, or had to work my ass off for. I struggled not to believe that my life being so hard wasn’t somehow¬†intrinsically¬†tied to my self worth. 4 years later, with lots of hard work ¬†and tears, I graduated from the University of Washington with honors, no¬†repossessions, no evictions, no bankruptcies!!

When I graduated college, I felt that our financial struggles were over!! I graduated college with little debt other than a gigantic pile of student loans. But sucky for me, I graduated right as the economy crashed. I wasn’t able to get a job right out of school. I ended up selling shitty shit (i.e. hair accessories, balsamic¬†vinegar¬† hair removal products) at country fairs and women shows. I also worked as a substitute teacher. While I was making money, it definitely wasn’t a consistent source of income and we were barely surviving. Financial emotional meltdown again!! I didn’t work so hard for all those years to sell shitty-shit!! Again, I struggled with not tying my¬†financial¬†situation to my self worth. Didn’t I deserve a break for goodness sake?

After 6 months, I got a full-time teaching job and finances were stable for once. We could pay our bills, save, and put some aside. Isn’t it funny how when things are going good, you think your issues are solved?¬†I thought I was over my money emotions, but I wasn’t. I didn’t learn this however until two months ago when my husband lost his job. I tumbled again into emotional despair and the feeling of inadequacy. Just when we were able to move out of our shitty 1st¬†apartment¬†that we had lived in for 7 years. Just when we were able to start saving. Just when we were able to live the life that everyone else was just given. I had intense fear that everything we had worked so hard for would be snatched away. Thankfully, he got a new job three weeks later and had already been a full-time college student for a year and a half. We’ve had to make a few small adjustments to our budget and financially we are okay. Emotionally, I still need to work on not allowing money to determine my self worth. I need to let go of the fear that comes with the the un-known and change. I need to remember that all the people in my life love me no matter the balance of my checking account, that I am a fabulous person who didn’t deserve any of these challenges. One of my favorite quotes from my husband is, “Even if we have to sell pencils out of a cardboard box, I will always love you.” I need to remember that.