I have always prided myself on eating my vegetables—on eating anything really. I am not a girl to shy away from anything placed before me. Anything but this weird chicken and rice soup my mom used to make when I was a little girl. That stuff was gross. But vegetables—be they cruciferous or root, leafy or crunchy or soft or sweet. I love the ones that always get picked last for the team. The kales and the beets and the celeriac. I love vegetables, and I kind of think of myself as an uber-adult cool kid because I do. Like I get extra points in the responsibility realm. I kind of think I ought to get a badge.
So you can imagine my embarrassment and frustration when I came to the realization that if there are badges to earn in the ‘being a responsible adult’ club, I have a few glaring omissions. Reading all the good child-rearing books? Badge! Taking my children’s health and education very seriously? Badge! Clean driving record? Badge! Exercising regularly? Well, I’m working on that one, but recently—Badge! Keeping the house clean? Badge! Checking the oil every time I fill the car up? Badge! (That one’s for you, Dad). Making wholesome obscure-veggie filled meals? TWO BADGES!! Balancing the checkbook? What? I’m supposed to do that? Having a budget? Hmmmm…I’m sorry, what? Investing? SAVING?!?! WHAT??!? I’m seriously nowhere close to earning those badges. And I’m worried I’m going to get kicked out of the Uber-adult Cool Kids Club. Crap.
We’re upside down on our condo. We’ve had it for almost eight years and it’s currently worth a little over 25% of what we paid for it. Ouchy. That hurts. As we started going through with a realtor what to finally do with it we had to provide all of this financial information. We have to show why the bank needs to let us sell it for what it’s worth instead of what we owe. To my DEEP embarrassment—keep in mind I’m the Hermione Granger of the Uber-adult Cool Kids Club—I had no idea the answers to most of the questions. “How much do you spend on _______________?” Um. Yeah. I don’t know. A lot. “Rent?” Ooo ooo! I know that one! “Groceries?” You don’t want to know. “Utilities?” Um…what would those be again?
So when the official form came last week I sort of wanted to have a nervous breakdown or pull an ostrich as my friend Kelly calls it. I had to go through our bank statements (do I get a few brownie points for knowing what those are and where they were?) and tally up and average of what we had spent in each category over the last few months. It wasn’t pretty. Let’s be honest. It was butt-ugly. It was troll-butt ugly.
So…I’m working on it. A lot of folks have recommended the Dave Ramsey stuff. His Financial Peace University stuff looks pretty smart. We’re going to give it a whirl. I started searching for online budgeting software, but to be honest I haven’t signed up for one yet. I tend to get a wee bit bogged down when I start these things. I’m trying to release my Hermione Granger-ness and just start doing it instead of insisting on getting it ‘right’ the first time.
Sometimes shame is a good thing. Sometimes it shows us an area we need to step up. Take responsibility. Sometimes it points out the missing badge. I may eat a lot of vegetables, but I need to start being reasonable and responsible with money. I’m working on it. It’s time. I just wish that budgeting was as fun as eating beets.
So dear readers--any tips or suggestions? Any cool tricks? What do you use to keep track of and manage your finances?