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I'm supposed to be middle class but...

February 10th, 2007 at 07:20 pm

I'm not feeling like it.

I've created a new spending plan, talked about it with DH, and so far we are adhering to it, but why does it feel like I have a ball and chain attached to me?

Our combined income is ~$100K but why, when my daughter asks if we can get donuts for breakfast tomorrow, do I worry about where in my budget I will put that expense... is it a dining out expense or a grocery expense?

It shouldn't even matter but it does to me.

Since I have started using this new spending plan spreadsheet I feel like I am a prisoner of our money. Maybe it's the newness of this spending plan as all others never seemed to work, in whatever form they took. This one is keeping us pretty honest but I guess I have to wait until the balances in my personal spending account builds up to a level where I can actually buy something for myself without feeling guilty.

We live a middle class lifestyle. We are not heavily in credit card debt ($600 CC bal) but we do have a mortgage, $3,000 balance on our equity credit line, car payment and tuition to pay for.

I intend to pay off the credit line and CC this June with DH's extra paycheck.

I save every pay period for Christmas/birthday gifts, sports registration fees, property taxes, car repair fund, vacation and more.

I feel like we are doing the right things, making better decisions about how we spend our money but it seems we can never break free of the ball and chain.

12 Responses to “I'm supposed to be middle class but...”

  1. Amber Says:

    First, I would like to say welcome. Secondly it is hard when you first start out on a budget and it is ok to splurge once in awhile when you first start out, but do not make it a habit. It's like trying to stop smoking, for some it is a gradual process and for others they can stop cold turkey. For me at first it was really hard but I paid off 9 cc's and 1 student loan, so I guess I did something right. However, at times I felt the need to splurge and I did, it just wasn't on going. Now I have been living the frugal life for little more than a year, it is really hard for me to spend money foolishly, I mean when I go in the mall I can actually come out with out buying a thing and not feel bad. Hang in there like with everything else it takes time and good luck Smile

  2. JanH Says:

    Welcome! For us, it has gotten easier and more freeing as time goes by. It might be that you need a column for fun things to do with the kids, then you won't feel like you are always having to worry when they want to do something fun with you. You can tell them that you have X amount for the week to do something fun with them and let them choose among the choices. Then go have a good time! We've had fun tweaking the budget for crazy stuff for ourselves, too. I have a chocolate column and Hubby has a basketball game column. And a couple of fun purchases a month--real inexpensive stuff. We actually enjoy each thing more now that we have limits--more than I thought would happen! Hang in there! Sounds like you already budget for those things most people don't, like yearly stuff!

  3. boomeyers Says:

    Welcome to the blogs! It sounds like you have a good handle on your finances and your credit is not stretched to its limit, so I guess maybe you spend your discretionary income too freely. I agree with Amber that you need to splurge, but I think it is more budgeting more for what you enjoy and what would make you feel more comfortable. You shouldn't, have to feel trapped all though many of us have been there, when you are making the push to get things paid off. Just find some free or inexpensive things to enjoy. And make sure you realize it is YOUR CHOICE to take control of your finances. You are not being punished, you are choosing to do the smart thing!

  4. tinapbeana Says:

    nice to have you join us!

    as someone who just bought doughnuts, i can relate to your post. i'm not trying to be facitious, believe me! see, DH and i both have a monthly allowance, and what we choose to do with it is our business. we don't have to account for it or track it, and once it's gone it's gone till next month. tonight's doughnuts were my treat, from my allowance.

    this does wonders for me! today i was feeling crummy and wanted to go look for new boots. i wound up spend $5 at the dollar tree and $50 on 2 pairs of shoes i'd been looking for a couple of months now. since this all came out of my allowance, i don't have to worry about how to account for it, because 'allowance' is a line item in my budget. since these were shoes i wanted, rather than needed, i didn't have to feel bad about taking money from the clothing budget to buy them.

  5. threebeansalad Says:

    It can be hard. We live in a culture where many people live above their means and so many people try to emulate celebrities but they lack a celebrity's salary. Good luck and welcome!

  6. baselle Says:

    It can be hard, because the goal (getting out of debt) is way more esoteric than the treats, and the fact that to most people, you have "good debt". In my mind, there's debt and there's bad debt. Calling something good debt means someone might advise you to keep it around.

    Are you making headway on your debts? Seeing them go down a bit might help. Also, it sounds like your savings are all earmarked into little accounts, which is a bit depressing when you think about it. Sometimes just pooling your savings together into a generic slush fund and watching that grow can be thrilling enough to keep you going.

  7. Ima saver Says:

    Welcome, you will get lots of good advice here.Just take it one step at a time.

  8. crazyliblady Says:

    I have made in my budget spreadsheet an item for Mad Money. This is money is used for lunches out, snacks, and that sort of stuff. It is specifically allocated for that and I do not get mad for using it, because that is what it is for. The funny thing is that I allocate myself $20 per week for this and I usually have some left over that I put into my Challenge money. I also have a Slush Fund where everything that doesn't fit into one of the other categories fits and it is also an unplanned expense. It's not really an emergency or short term savings, as I have a short term savings.

  9. yummy64 Says:

    For me, I'd not be even considering doughnuts for breakfast. Fried fatty balls of fat with some sugar don't give great energy for the day. But I'd be seeing the budget as a postive here and budgeting in some good breakfasts Smile. Pancakes, waffles, bacon, eggs, a strata - all balancing price, taste and nutrition.

    Oh and before I sound too preachy it took me forever to figure out how to break my morning coffee and bagel at the drive through addiction - so until then that was a planned expenditure. Now I've found something at home I enjoy and I've cut my costs and started a nice new routine I enjoy as much or more than that and cut my budget to boot!

    Budget doesn't mean you spend as cheaply as possible - it means you spend as mindfully as possible so you have funds to do what matters. Personally I'd skip donuts for breakfast totally and budget in some meals a restaurant I really enjoy for a nice sit down meal with real cutlery. Spend the same or more maybe but enjoy and anticipate it.

  10. living_in_oz Says:

    Our combined income is ~$100K but why, when my daughter asks if we can get donuts for breakfast tomorrow, do I worry about where in my budget I will put that expense... is it a dining out expense or a grocery expense?

    No one here can tell you where this expense needs to come out of your budget. YOU need to decided that for yourself. For me? It would come out of my dining out expense envelope. Groceries are "real" food bought at the grocery store and everything else it out of our dining out expense envelope.

    Just a comment though, and I don't mean to sound preachy either(Smile). I don't let my children choose when we are going to dine out. Just because they want to eat donuts for breakfast(and believe me, they DO sometimes!lol) that doesn't mean that we are going to get donuts for breakfast. More than likely, we won't. I have to be cautious with our spending and even little things like donuts can break you if you aren't careful. If they ask for donuts, then I carefully think it through and if we haven't had them in a while AND haven't eaten out as a family in a while, then I might give in and let them have donuts. But, I will also factor in the fact that donuts are terrible for our health and not the best thing for them to put into their bodies before going to school. IMO, it's one of those areas where frugal living and good health choices are both a factor. But, that's just me though. Each family has to make their own choicesSmile

  11. katwoman Says:

    Welcome to our little community!

    I think I understand the "ball and chain" feeling. That comes from not really knowing where everything is going. Even though you know what's coming in, you really aren't keeping track, right? I know someone like this and it's only because there's enough money to spend and save so why worry about the pitsy things like donuts? And yet if you add up all those pitsy things you'd be shocked at what is really going out!

    Stick with us; you'll come to love counting all your pennies!

  12. Little L Says:

    WOW! Thanks for all the welcomes and comments.

    I do have personal spending accounts and a fun account. Since I'm starting my plan from scratch, all accounts started with zero balances. So it'll just take time before they build up to a level where we can actually use them.

    Our savings is in one account, just divied up into a bunch of accounts in Quicken.

    I have a slush fund acct too and whatever cash doesn't get budgeted goes there. It doesn't amt to much but I put it in slush for the little unexpected expenses that I didn't anticipate. The balance goes to savings at month-end.

    Donuts are a rarity for breakfasts in our house. I usually make pancakes but DD asked for donuts yesterday. It had been a while since we had them so they indulged (I had oatmeal) Smile
    I actually know where every penny goes. I'm too anal about that. I am trying to reduce expenses and will work on auto & homeowners next week. It seems that in CA, Allstate has filed for a significant rate increase while all the other major insurers have filed for rate decreases. Of course we have Allstate Frown.

    Cash flow is tight, mostly because of our 3 largest monthly expenses: mortgage/prop taxes, tuition & car pymt.

    Anyway, thanks again for the warm welcome... I look forward to learning and saving with all of you.

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