Wednesday, January 30, 2013

ACCOUNTability

It turns out the only thing harder than not having money is having it.

We've watched friends overcompensate when their budget goes from meager to manageable. That lovely line between "need" and "want" becomes very wavy and unclear. And before they know it, they're in over their head, definitely writing cheques their bank can't cash. Evey city we've been in, there has been at least one couple in the same situation.

Lovely people, but we don't want to be them.

Now that Scott is in secure employment, and I'm off the introductory probation at my job, we're feeling much more financially stable. But money mismanagement is kind of like quick sand -- you think it's just a shirt. And then it's a couple of containers for organizing the bathroom cupboard. And then it's just a pizza for supper. And before you know it, your money is slipping out of your hand as soon as it comes in.

And yes, that may be a snippit from my brain's impulse purchase sector. No, no I didn't buy any of it.

But the impulse was there, and it was strong. So we developed a budget. A thorough budget. Exact timelines for building a down payment. Estimated moving expenses. Accounting for annual incremental raises for me, as outlined by our collective agreement. Filling in rough numbers for vacations, renovation, kids, retirement savings.

And it was great! The main problem? The budget wasn't with us at the store. We keep a rough mental tally, but sometimes a one doesn't get carried, or we remember where we're at with groceries from two weeks ago, but not last week. I knew we had to get a little tighter grasp if we're going to get that down payment as soon as possible.

I was going to go pen to paper, but couldn't find a template, nor design my own, that worked well enough. And the "budget binder" would always be at home, to catalogue our purchases AFTER they were made. Good for building guilt, not great for building habits.

Of course, there's an app for that. I took a good portion of Sunday reading reviews, testing out free trials, and generally research what could link up a Mac, an iPhone and an Android, so we would have NO excuse for not always being on top of that budget.

No, we know exactly where we're at every day as we contemplate that cup of coffee. We can decide if we want to do that home organization project this week, or hold off until next week when our budget cycle starts over with the start of the new month. And we can keep tabs on each other by knowing the minute someone makes a purchase.

Ok, maybe that's not a perk we may like, but the ability to manage accounts comes from... accountability!!

ETA: Lots of people emailing saying I forgot to include the name of the app we're using. I purposely left the app name out, as it's a rather expensive app which we wouldn't have even thought about purchasing without the iTunes gift card we found in our couch cushion (budgeting tip: always check the couch cushions), and while I do love the product, I didn't want to provide free advertising. What can I say? I'm a capitalist! That being said, anyone wanting to know what app it is, I will gladly tell you! Just shoot me an email at carascloset1@gmail.com! 

4 comments:

  1. This is a great idea! So many people spend without thinking whether they have the money or not. Fortunately for me, I keep track of all finances so my husband gets an allowance each week :) We also do money envelopes for budgeting. It really keeps things in check with spending. Heather

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    1. We tried using jars (the Canadian version of Dave Ramsey, Gail Vaz-Oxlade, who is known most for her no-nonsense TV shows "Til Debt Do Us Part" and "Princess," which shaped our financial approach), but always forgot to get money to put in jars. I've noticed Canada is less cash based than the States, so it was very unnatural for us to use cash. This app is like having electronic envelopes and jars!!

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  2. That sounds like a good app - I think I need to look into it!

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  3. Great idea. I've been out of my mind budgeting. The DH and I thought we knew what funds were coming in and going out and suddenly my computer crapped out. We already knew we'd need to fix something in his, but wound up having to replace two parts of mine. Thankfully since our income isn't necessarily stable, I've been able to round up the funds to get us back on track, but getting the money back in my account and getting everything paid for has been a juggling act.

    I've also had to plan extra hard on having snacks and drinks we can take with us instead of paying inflated college prices, and making sure we have dinner options instead of eating out, which happens too often for my comfort.

    I hope once we get a steady flow of income we can start working those things out. It's hard having a curve ball thrown and going OMGWTFBBQ

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