It has been about six weeks since I started my financial project (which remains nameless – and you know I love giving my self-improvement goals cutesy names!). I’m actually shocked by that – it seems like much, much more time has gone by! And yet also feels frustratingly like I have made very little progress.
As you may remember, my main problem is that I realized I was suffering from Delusional Income Syndrome. In other words, I’d been “guess-timating” my financial needs all in my head. For years. Even when I tried to write down all my expenses last January (a short-lived experiment), I still wasn’t being consistent and somehow had no idea what I actually needed to make to pay the bills. That probably sounds really pathetic for someone my age, but I’ve always been afraid of this area of my life and obviously, I chose to put my head in the sand and fritter away my savings.
The first step for me was to figure out EXACTLY what I needed, down to the last penny. Many of you suggested You Need a Budget software (thanks, especially, to T!), and I cannot tell you what an eye-opening experience it has been! The money going out far exceeded the money coming in. Obviously, I knew that, otherwise I wouldn’t have had to dip into the savings every month for so long. But I had no idea just how big the problem was or just how clueless I had become.
Even without seeing those figures, I knew that I needed more income. With sales dropping at Five Seed, and just a part-time job, I had already committed to an evening job at another school. I was reluctant to take on a third job, but I knew I didn’t really have an option. My third job is coordinating a before-school program two days a week. It’s only a few hours, each of those two days…or it’s supposed to be…but like any teaching job, I’ll be putting in many unpaid hours working on this at home.
I also cut out a few things, most notably my YogaGlo subscription, which was a hard pill to swallow. It’s just $18/mo. but at this point, every dollar counts. And it’s not going to kill me to do yoga on my own for a while! My goal is to get control of the budget and hopefully start putting the extra money towards the loan.
So, I’m working on the solutions, but the pay comes slowly. I won’t start getting paid for my new job until April. And I still never know how much I’ll be making each month. My last paycheck that I received at the end of January (which was for the month of December), was three hundred dollars less than what I was expecting. It was a huge blow, and I felt pretty discouraged by that. I simply don’t know how much I’ll be getting at the end of February, or for any month beyond that. It’s a frustrating situation, especially when I’m working so hard.
I’ve come to realize that my job/income situation is unstable, unpredictable and exhausting. I need to come up with a better plan once the school year ends. I don’t mind having 2 part time jobs, but 3 PT jobs and a business is proving to be extremely stressful.
Further, I started this journey in order to bust through my student loan, but I’ve realized that this is so much bigger than that. I spent most of my twenties living like a college student – scraping together money at odd jobs, living off my savings, taking out loans… Somehow, it became a habit, and I didn’t even notice. I can’t keep living off of temporary, part-time jobs, draining my savings (which is almost gone, already) and having no real long-term vision for my future.
Of course, there isn’t any quick fix for all of this, but I’m on my way. Sometimes, I get discouraged, sometimes I feel like giving up, but more often, I feel powerful and in control. I know where my money is going and what I’m doing with it. I’m making projections and squirreling money away for vet bills, gifts, DMV registration fees, bicycle repairs, etc., instead of pretending that those expenses don’t exist and trying to come up with the money at the last minute. I’m finally making some real changes.
How is your journey going?