Blowing the Budget

by Jay on December 12, 2010

It’s been months since I posted — and life has been a blur. My day job takes more and more of my time, and my side business has been filling up what’s left. But things are slowing down now at work….a large project is finished, and our year-end work is mostly done. The stoop sale season in Brooklyn is over, so I have my weekends back.

I’ve been taking a good look at my finances (and my life in general – more on that later) and I don’t like what I see. I track everything in Quicken – my salary, and personal expenses, as well as business profit, expenses — but when the Summer rush began this year, I had less and less time to track my money properly. It is surprisingly easy to miss things. I was shocked when I printed out my bank statements for the past 8 months and started reconciling them against my Quicken Account (I know, I really should do this monthly, but just didn’t have time), and saw that not only had I missed entering paychecks, but I had also missed entering mortgage payments! (I did send the payments to the bank, thanks to automatic bill payment! Just forgot to record them). The income entries and the expense entries I missed added up to about the same amount, so I didn’t notice anything amiss when looking at my account balances in Quicken.

I’ve caught up and sorted through the mess, but I realized several things from this:

1: I thought I had a very good handle on my money, but now realize that this was an illusion: I really lost track for several months this Summer;

2: Even if we are very diligent about tracking our money, circumstances can conspire to throw us off-track without us even realizing. Until I sat down and reconciled my statements against my Quicken records, I had no idea that anything was amiss;

3: I have spent far too much in the past few months. I have spent a ton of money on furniture/appliances, etc. for my new condominium, and paid for a lot of it with credit cards. I’m glad for each item I’ve bought, but now is time to stop, and to pay the cards down.

3: There is no excuse for letting my day job or my business run my life. I can say now that I was too busy to take care of my finances, but what has that gained me? Sure, I made lots of money, and fortunately I didn’t bounce any checks or forget any payments, but through lack of discipline I’ve spent far more than I should have over the past six months, didn’t pay much attention to where the money was going, and missed an opportunity to pay off a big chunk of debt.

This blog has helped to keep my finances on track in the past. As I will have more time over the next few weeks, I will make a real effort to blog more often, work through ways to make better financial choices, hold myself accountable, and in general deal better with what life is throwing me.

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