All of our bills are paid. We have cash in our separate envelopes for gas, food (already spent), and spending. Nothing is due, nothing is past due. All of our dollars have names on them and I should be feeling groovy.
Instead, I alternate between being a little sheepish about the budgeting we do and being so proud I could scream it from the mountains. Are we anywhere near perfect? No way. Although I do think we know are dollars better than a lot of people.
As we had our finance committee meeting tonight (that's what we call bill paying here, very business-like, don't you think?) I couldn't help but feel a little cranky and deprived. I might want to go shopping this week, maybe even tomorrow. I may want to go to the store and buy whatever I see that I might want. I deserve it. I've been home with a sick husband, I've been a little sick this week myself, a little retail therapy would lift my spirits, but it really won't.
When we first decided that we were going to be in charge of our money it was because we were sick and tired of wondering where all of our money was going. We had some sort of mysterious amnesia about the dinners out at Red Lobster, Applebee's, or the fact that we were single-handedly supporting our local McDonald's remodel. When I was feeling brave I would sit down and pay bills with whatever was left in our checking account. Sometimes we had enough, most times not. Every time I logged on to our checking account our balance was a surprise, and not always a good one.
This was getting really old, and we weren't getting ahead at all. Sure, we had a nice house, and nice cars, and we never said "No" when people asked us to do something, we were sure they were so flush with money they weren't worried about putting gas in their car next week.
Then one day we realized it was OK to be different, to suggest eating at home with friends, eventually we just got different friends. We both heard the same talk radio guy and really thought he had some good points, so we got his book and then we got "it." If we wanted to realize our dreams we had to stop living above our actual income and get real with ourselves. It was hard, and scary. Now if we don't have cash we don't do it. It isn't easy yet, but I can tell you the surprise I feel now is when I balance our checking account and see that I got it right down to the cent. I love knowing that I will have my student loan debt paid off well before my kids go to college.
So yes, I want to go shopping tomorrow, or next week, but no new clothes warm me as much as the security I feel knowing my bills are paid and I have enough money for all the necessities.