Budget Busters

Coming up on the end of June, I’m finding myself about to begin my 6th month of budgeting.  For the most part I would say so far, so good however for some reason I’m a little puzzled by one of my envelopes which has been totally blown away in May and June.

The culprit:  Food

And when I say “Food” this encompasses anything I buy at the grocery store so trash bags, etc. also fall into this category.  I know to some that will seem crazy, but trust me – I am NOT a detail person.  I can handle the details, but I hate them, so I try to stay in line with what I’ve heard Dave Ramsey say time and time again and I “KISS” everything I can (Keep It Simple Stupid).  My feeling is that I have enough balls in the air, so the more of them I can consolidate, the better.

Anyway, the question has been WHY.  Why has my food budget gone so terribly wrong these last 2 months when I was able to keep to it so well February through April?  True, it could be in part to the increase in cost of some food items due to rising gas prices, but I suspect it’s actually more simple than that.  I think this is because May was when I stopped paying for my groceries in cash and instead started using my debit card again.  In fact, May is when I moved all of my “cash” items back to the bank and was aiming to only use my debit card.

The studies done by Dunn & Bradstreet as well as Citigroup indicate that consumers spend 18-20% more when using plastic than when using cash.  That paying for things with actual cold, hard cash registers as pain in your brain receptors, but using a plastic card registers nothing.  Apparently using a debit card does register a little pain, but apparently not enough to cut down on the amount you spend.  Hm.

So, just for kicks I’m moving back to the cash envelope system for this month with items like Food and will just see what happens.  I’m still not finished June so I need to try and get creative for the rest of the month.  I wonder what cardboard tastes like…

48 Days

So I’ve started reading another book which is part of what is informally known as The Dave Ramsey Book Club. Dave has a bunch of books that he recommends for various purposes, but mostly because he found them so valuable. Most of them are also required reading for anyone who works for him.

Anyhow, so I picked up on from the library that I’ve heard him talk about quite a bit on the radio and even heard him mention it during my most recent FPU class – 48 Days To The Work You Love by Dan Miller. Now I’m not at all thinking of changing careers or even jobs in the next 48 days, but In trying to think more long-term, I do want to begin evaluating where I really want to be, what I really want to do, and how to ultimately get there.

So as I work through this book, there are questions at the end of each chapter. I thought what I might do is try to answer them here and would welcome feedback and input – especially from my close friends & family – as to whether or not I’m on the right track. Naturally I value the opinion of those who know me best in this since there’s a forest full of trees and I may not see all of them when looking at myself.

That said, here are the first chapter’s questions and my answers:

1. Who gave you your first job? What kind of job was it? How much money did you make?
I think my first job was probably a babysitting job, but as for a “real” job, I did have a job working the summer of my freshman year in high school for a family who sold and shipped Amway products. I had to open the store, take in orders and do inventory, ship the incoming orders out, and keep records of everything. I was largely on my own – the family hardly ever checked on me, so I had the place to myself and just had to complete the work I was asked. I don’t remember how much I got paid, but I remember enjoying the responsibility and self-management it provided.

2. From looking at your work life so far, what as been of the greatest value or worth?
I think I’d have to say the broad range of experiences and types of work it has provided me.

3. If your job changes, does your purpose change?
I might answer that differently if I felt I truly knew what my purpose is, but that’s a question I’m really struggling with right now, so I’m not sure. I guess I’d say that no, my purpose wouldn’t change because, even once I identify what that purpose is, I don’t believe a job change would (or should) impact that.

4. Do you think your current job will exist five years form now?

5. What would be the key characteristics of an ideal job or career?
Fun, adventure, ability to define ones own path, self-management, no glass ceiling, personal fulfillment.

6. When you daydream, what do you see yourself doing?
Running my own business and traveling as often as possible. As far as what that business is that I see myself running, it honestly changes with almost every daydream, but I do have a basic pool I pick from that I could see myself doing.

7. What have been the happiest, most fulfilling moments in your life?
Moments when I feel I managed something of great worth or personal growth. Moving to Alaska (and surviving), for example. Living overseas. Each step up in my career path so far. Purchasing my first home. Completing personal projects (home renovations, DAR application and approval, etc.)

8. If nothing changed in your life in the next 5 years, would that be OK?
Absolutely not. If nothing else, I know I need change in my life. I know a lot of people are scared of it, but I find I tend to thrive on it – even when it brings stress. So, if I was told that nothing in my life would change for the next 5 years, I think I would feel some life drain out of me.