Okay, maybe not adventures. I'm kind of bummed about the whole deal right now. See, I've been thinking for quite some time that I needed to get a better handle on my budget. I'm certainly not in debt like some people, but it seems like I do a lot of taking two steps forward and then one or two (sometimes three) back. I don't feel particularly ready to make big budget cuts yet, but it is an area where I would like to figure out how to move forward instead of bouncing around so much. Moving forward requires taking a step in the right direction... My first step is to track my money. Figure out what I have and where it needs to go.
I have tried this before, with mixed results. When I do it somewhat well (if inefficiently), I like knowing how much money I have when the bills come in and I don't have to try to do the math in my head to remember if there is still money that is on it's way out that I forgot about. However, I tend to only get so far before I start to forget to add things, or I start to ignore it because there's something that I want, whether the budget says so or not.
I have enjoyed some of Amanda and Jonathan's posts on budgeting, like this one. I will admit, it's one of those things that makes me look at people that are younger than me that are much, much closer to where I'd like to be than where I am, and makes me wonder what I've been doing all this time! However, although it wasn't listed, I'm pretty sure never getting started will derail the budget pretty quick, too. Plus, they made some very drastic choices that I admire, but (as I said) I don't yet feel prepared to make. However, even if I can't go back and make better choices, and even if I'm not ready to radically alter things, I can do better than I'm doing now. You have to start somewhere!
My absolute favorite part of their post is that they linked the YNAB (You Need a Budget) software. I wasn't getting anywhere with my inefficient tracking (I tried both paper and pencil and tracking on the computer... Too much for me to keep track of!) I decided to give the free trial a shot. I love the way this is set up and the way that they recommend budgeting. It's perfect for me. It has you take a look at the money you have, and assign that money to the categories that will require payment before the next time you get paid. None of this figuring out what your needs might be and what your income might be (mine fluctuates). I'm a visual person, and after I filled out where I was, and was able to add categories for most of my goals (even though I couldn't put money in many of them), I could see how I was doing. I'm better in some areas than I thought and worse in others.
My former attempts at tracking things have not been in vain. It helped me see how much it could help when done right. It helped me see what I felt that I needed in order to track things more efficiently. It also helped me see that YNAB is a fantastic fit for me. I love the idea of the envelope system, but that is never going to happen for me. I'm just not going to be consistent with the cash thing. This lets me do the same idea, but digitally, so it's something I'm likely keep up with. I think I'll buy the software, but I'm going to wait a couple of weeks. First, I want to make sure that I continue to like it as much as I do after the initial set up. Second, it's not in the budget this paycheck!
What I'm bummed about is that I do not get to go cross country skiing tomorrow. It's a beautiful day, the mountains are beautiful, and I just want to get out and enjoy them. The part about budgeting that makes us all cringe is the part where you don't always get to do what you want. In the end, though, budgeting is not about denying yourself (though it can happen in the short term), it's about getting what you want. Having more stability and awareness of my money is really important and occasionally having to say no will be worth it.