Budgets.

I’m speaking completely from my own experience here, but I’ve found that if you are bad at budgeting in one area of your life, you are probably bad at budgeting everywhere else.  As for me, I’m terrible at budgeting calories/points (hence the need to lose weight!), and just as bad at budgeting my time and money.  I’m determined to change that.

I’ve heard variations of the calorie/money analogy a million times over — if you overspent on one item, would you just throw away the rest of your money?  If not, why do that with calories when you have one indulgent meal? — but unfortunately, I’ve had as many pre-diet “last meals” as I’ve had pre-spending freeze “last shopping trips”.  My mind tends to work in feast-or-famine mode; I’m not so good at moderation.

I’m slightly better at managing my time — largely because I don’t have a choice as to how I spend 16 of the 24 hours of my day (8 for work, 8 for sleeping) — but I’ve woken up many a Monday morning wondering what exactly I did with my weekend.

I’ve had a rough year when it comes to budgeting and saving money. I was out of a paycheck for a few weeks while switching jobs (probably not the best idea) and dwindled my savings a bit.  I also decided to embark on a few big apartment organizing projects, and The Container Store took a nice bite out of my credit card.  In addition, I put on some weight this year and needed to buy a ton of work-appropriate clothes in a larger size; I made the mistake of donating my old “fat” clothes when I was 15 lbs. lighter and thought I wouldn’t need them anymore.  Whoops. :-/

I’ve alluded to the fact that the husband and I are getting ready for some big next steps in the not-so-distant future — the biggest ones being buying a place and having a baby — and both of these big steps require money.  I don’t want to be the one bringing our joint credit score down (and mortgage rate up), and I don’t want to stress about having money in the bank when I’m out on maternity.  As a result, I have to make some adjustments in my life.

I’m hoping that by improving my budgeting skills in one part of my life the others will follow, but I doubt it’s that easy! 🙂  So I’m starting with big plans in each aspect of my life, then working on the specifics.  I actually feel pretty good when it comes to weight loss right now (lost another 0.5 lbs. this week – woo!), so my primary focuses will be on paying down debt and managing my time more effectively.

The first thing I did was formulate a long-term plan for paying off my debt — I used CNN’s Debt Reduction Planner, but I’m sure there are a million similar tools online.  I also made myself a strict budget to make sure I keep the frivolous purchases to a minimum.  I think my biggest problems will be the small stuff — my morning lattes, for example, and take-out lunch every day during the work week — but that’s the stuff that really adds up over time.

December is a BIG month for spending — I’ve got a ton of cousins to buy for! — so I decided to start strict budgeting first thing January 1st and instead focus on not using my credit cards at all this month.  I’m also going to sit down with Matt in the next few days and set a strict holiday spending budget for us; we tend to shop without really thinking about $$, and it comes back to bite us in our January credit card statements!  I also have a bunch of stuff lying around the apartment that would be perfect to sell on eBay — it’s time to stop procrastinating and just get rid of it!

As far as time management goes, I think my best bet is to make a tentative schedule for my non-work hours every day, based on the things I need to do (like going to the gym, walking the dog, apartment cleaning and blogging) and the things I’d like to do (laundry, mindlessly surfing the internet, watching TV).  I think I’ll be successful if I set aside a dedicated block of time for each activity and not try to multi-task too much.

One of the main reasons I want to improve my time management skills is that I’m starting an at-home study program to be a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant!  I learned about the program through a few of my favorite bloggers (Tina and Jenna are both certified), and after doing some research it sounded like the perfect introduction into the professional nutrition world without the commitment to a graduate program.  I’ve been thinking about going back to school part-time to get a degree in nutrition — I already have an MPH in Health Policy and Management — so we’ll see what happens in the future! 🙂

Alright, that’s all from me for now — time to use the rest of my evening wisely and make some dinner!

How are you at managing your time/money/weight?  Are you good at one, but not the others?  What are your holiday spending plans?

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2 Responses

  1. I’m way better at points budgeting than food budgeting. And I’m great at scheduling. For some reason I just can’t get a handle on money all the time because my parent’s weren’t the best at it. Learned behavior I guess.

    For time management I use google calendar because you can color coordinate which I LOVE. and for money I use mvelopes because it divides up what I currently have and lets me know what I have to spend. I need to get better at that one.

    Good for you for wanting to get better at it though.

  2. I’ve mastered time management…I have one of those planners that list every half hour…I often plan my day by the hour:) I know what you mean by trying to stop the spending…I just spent way too much $$ on new throw pillows and curtains for the living room…probably not necessary, but it just make the apartment so much more cozy:)

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