Thursday, May 01, 2008

Budget. A New Topic

Budget. Just the word alone gives me the shivers. It gives me a feeling of dread and fear and unknown territory.

It reminds me of when I was a little girl and my Mom would say in a doomsday kind of voice 'I guess I better pay the bills'. She'd take out an adding machine, her checkbook and a tin box that she kept the bills in. The house would become quiet. My Dad would go outside. There was this tension in the air. I learned to become very uncomfortable when it was 'time to pay the bills'. She would sigh and become very unhappy.

We were always on a budget. My Mom stayed at home and my Dad was an English College Professor. Mom cut coupons and drove to three different grocery stores to get the good deals. I think she still does! She always said we didn't have enough money.

I must have resisted the idea of a budget all of these years, because of what I remembered about being on a budget.

I have never planned a budget. I have never listed out our bills, our income, how much we want to save for trips, college, etc. This is foreign to me. I haven't written down a check amount in..10 years, 15 years..I'm not sure. I have never balanced a check book so why bother to write down the checks I right out?

When I want something..I think about it a bit..then usually purchase it. If my checking account becomes thin, I make it fat again with a few keystrokes at the computer..transfer from savings. There, all better. If I continue this process for another 20 years there will be no savings to transfer!

Steve and I have been putting 15% of our income, or the maximum $7000 allowed per year, dependant on our employer, in our 401K plans each year for 23 years . Our retirement is set. Sometimes I think I should have the money NOW, who cares about when I'm sixty fricking two years old? Give me the penalty. Shit I could be dead by then. But I know better, I will be there before I know it. I was just 23, you know?

Deductions are automatically taken for the boys 529B College Plan each year, I have an automatic savings plan. Automatic is good for me, I don't have to look at numbers, I don't have to think budget.

I've been thinking budget the past 6 months. Each time gas increases, each trip to the grocery store where I'm spending $800 a month or more on groceries, I'm thinking I need to start a budget. Thinking about it was a good place to start.

For two weeks I've grocery shopped at Walmart. I had only been in a Walmart 3 times before. I didn't like Walmart. It was icky. I kept reading articles in the Mpls Trib that Walmart groceries are 30% cheaper than Cub, 15% cheaper than Target. I figured it was worth a try.

Was it! The past two weeks instead of spending the usual $200 on groceries I have spend $138 and $112. Yeah. Big savings. The food is fine. I am buying the same things. Lots of produce, chicken, ham, beef, fruit..I have noticed no difference in quality. The service isn't horrible either. They bag my groceries, too. I figure what I'm saving at Walmart is going into my gas tank. A savings is a savings.

So now I've decided to take a look at my budget and spending habits. I've created a spreadsheet, listing all my monthly bills, credit card totals and minimum dues, groceries, gas, etc. I've even read online about "snowball method" of paying off debt, which was foreign to me. Snowflakes and snowballs and terms that I had never head off. Kind of like how fartlek and Yasso 800's sounded to me 10 years ago!

I'm no longer afraid of the word budget. It reminds me of how I was afraid of the words sober, healthy, running. Baby steps, it'll come!

On the running front, I decided to offer a Beginning Woman's Run Class in Big Lake during the summer. I already have some clients! I'm so excited.

Last nights class was fantastic. We ran 8 minutes, walked 2 minutes x 3. One gal has been struggling with her breathing while running. She runs a bit, begins to gasp, then panics. She was embarrassed and putting herself down. I told her that we do too much of that! We talk so negatively to ourselves that pretty soon we believe it and live it. I told her to be PROUD that she was at the class and not in the Dairy Queen drive thru instead. She laughed. We ran together and when she began to become panicked and gasping for breath, we just jogged slowly, having her take deep breaths. She worked through it and was just fine. She felt so good about herself, I was so proud of her!

After the run and a stretching session we had Janelle, our assistant coach, who is a nutritionist speak on nutrition for runners. We had many people with many questions. It was a great session.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have always shopped at super wal mart. Some are icky, some are not. I wish I could afford to shop at a better store but with 4 kiddos and being a stay at home mom I have to shop where it is cheaper. I can't believe you only spent $138!!! May I send you a kid or two??

Tonya

Bev said...

The budget thing was foreign to me as well until last year. We started doing the Dave Ramsey class and the debt snowball and worked the baby steps. Guess what it works, we are debt free. You can do it too. With your discipline there is no doubt you'll have it all worked out in short measure.

olga said...

I've been on a budget my whole life. I never bounce a checkbook in terms of numbers, but I always know how much is on account and what we can't afford - what is pretty much everything...including 401k and 529. There was a period we picked up a bit - and then Alex's trouble schools sucked all the savings, my parents savings and then some. I am so used to shop at Walmart, K-mart, Goodwill, Grocery outlet and alike - I don't remember trip to a normal store. Thank God to sponsors for running gear:) I know one thing - priorities. I always had enough for priorities. The rest is not important.
Thanks for putting it out. Just like with weight issues, addictions and alike - overspending is a bitch we need to face and deal with.

Scott Meyers said...

I enjoy reading your view on life and running. Man O man can I feel the pinch of the current economy. We have ran the same ultras in the past and I should of introduced myself to you. One this times I will get around to saying hi, maybe at Superior Trail 100 or as we know 103 miles.
Scott
P.S. Say hi to John the Arrowhead champ from Scott who followed in his tracks to the finish.