It’s Not All Bad

This is how I doodle
This is how I doodle

I had an epiphany yesterday as I was going through my finances – a typical mid month review. But I took a deeper look and it led to something that made me feel good about my budgeting.

It can’t all be about what I need to do better to be successful long term–sometimes it’s worthwhile to celebrate what I’m doing well without needing to change anything about that part of my plan. It’s motivating and it gives me pause to not always be so hard on myself for screwing a few other things up.

At the beginning of every year, I right down a few financial goals for myself, beyond that failed budget ceiling for random shopping. I usually don’t go back and revisit them until the year is over, and I think I need to change that–a monthly check in could actually motivate me to keep my financial house in order in a positive way.

One goal I had for myself was to save $6000 over the course of the year for my emergency savings account. When I saw it and looked back over the year so far, I saw that not only had I already hit that goal, but I’d also bettered it by $1000. And if I push really hard, I might even be able to double it by the end of the year. Go me!

I was only looking at the total in the account, which took a significant hit this year because of taxes, some home maintenance/repairs, and my son’s ear tube procedure. And because it has stayed well below what it was before those hits, I’ve been feeling pretty deflated. I have been too focused on getting it back to where it was that I missed how well I was still doing toward this particular goal.

So now I know to approach it differently. Those expenses, while painful, weren’t exactly frivolous. Yes, we didn’t do a great job estimating our taxes last year and had to pay out of pocket, but we fixed that for this year and our monthly budgets are still on track. The water heater was on its last legs–and we agreed it was better to replace it before it failed. And my poor little boy had ear infections every 3-4 weeks over the course of 5 months–since the tubes, he’s been happier, speaking better, and not a trace of ear problems. Money well spent.

And hey, we had that money saved up so we could pay for everything without adding any debt. That’s a win when there are articles out there talking about more than half of Americans can’t afford unexpected bills, let alone three big ones in a row.

But that money is gone, so I need to let go of the idea that it was once in my savings. I need to focus on where I am now, where I want to be, and how I’m going to get there. And realizing that I hit one of my goals with 5 months to spare made me feel pretty good. It also makes this shopping ban idea easier to take on. Now that I know I’ve done something well, I want to know how much better I can get.

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