Last night The Wife and I made a HUGE mistake. This is one of those things that no matter how hard we try, we can’t undo. We took a look at our 2016 budget and compared it to our actual expenses. While shocking, that wasn’t the worst thing we did. It got worse, much, much worse!
The true mistake we made was looking back at our 2015 expenses and compared them to how we’ve done so far in 2016. Oh my God! It’s not a pretty picture at all.
Our monthly expenses have gone up by an average of over $700 per month, while our income has remained the same. A situation that cannot reasonably continue. FFFFUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKK!!!!!
Yep, it’s definitely ass puckering time.
The increased expenses are not a total surprise when we break the figures down. At the beginning of 2016 The Girl turned 16, she took my old car and I bought a new one. Boom, there’s an easy $450 per month added to our expenses. We compensated for this additional expense, by dipping into savings to pay off our horse trailer a year early and cutting $300 from the monthly expense line, covering some, but not all of the car expense.
However, in the Spring, the boy made his annual trek to the Orthodontist, where we discovered that it’s time for braces. Shit! That added a couple of hundred bucks to the monthly expense line. My question is, does The Boy really need straight teeth?
After that, it’s just been a month to month thing where we haven’t controlled our spending. Did we need to eat out every night for two weeks in April? Probably not. Could have saved some serious scratch there. Stuff like that really adds up. On Tuesday nights I’ve been treating the kids to dinner out at their favorite fast food places. It’s a fun bonding experience for me to have with just The Kids, but that’s $20 to $30 per week. Boom, cut that shit out and we’ve just saved over $100 per month. The Wife went hog wild with her Christmas decorations for her company’s party. That’s a huge area we could have saved on by just using our old/traditional decorations. You get the idea – we’re spending more than we should. Not a good situation when your oldest is about to embark on her college journey and will need financial support for things like food and books.
The Wife and I had two very distinctly different reactions to our budget review. The Wife’s response was that she needs time to “process” everything and do some serious contemplating about the hows and whys of our current financial situation. She wants to think about it for now and revisit everything at the first of the year – after she’s had enough time to wrap her head around it.
On the other hand, I’ve gone into full SAVE ANY WAY POSSIBLE MODE. I’m questioning everything we spend money on. Do we really need to have the Christmas tree lit up on any day other than December 25th? What about the outside lights? Do we need those running every night? What about bi-weekly or just on the weekends? Do both kids need cats? Can we get away with just one cat and one dog? What do those pets actually contribute to the household? Do the pets really need special food? Alpo was good enough for Lassie, why isn’t it good enough for our two pups?
Of course my reaction has The Wife freaked out. She keeps saying that I’m “overreacting” and that I need to calm down. First of all, I’m perfectly calm about this. If we’re spending too much money, let’s take a look at what we’re spending money on and figure out how to save. There’s no emotional tie to it, it’s just the situation we’re in. Not good, not bad, just a situation. Secondly, maybe some of my suggestions are overreactions (i.e. getting rid of a cat and/or dog). However, that doesn’t make them any less legitimate as solutions. It doesn’t mean that they’re good solutions or ones we need to embrace, but they are options.
What will happen? Who the fuck knows! The one truth of this whole thing is that we have to shave that money off somewhere and we will have to make some sacrifices to do it. My best guess is that we’ll get rid of our lawn guys and house cleaners. Right there is an easy $400 per month savings. Does it mean more work for us? Of course, but that’s what you have to do sometimes. Do I want to get stuck cleaning the house or mowing the lawn every weekend? Hell no, but sometimes we have to do what needs to be done whether we like it or not.
The good thing is that we will survive and do better in 2017. At least I hope we do, otherwise we’re hosed!
It’s near the end of the year, have you looked at your 2016 spending yet? If so, what did you find? If not, are you dreading it or have you stuck to your plan? Budgeting is a wise move, but only if you pay attention to your budget. Obviously we didn’t and now we’ll have to suffer the consequences for our lack of focus. It’ll all work out just fine.