Monday, April 26, 2010

Money Monday: April 26, 2010

I realized this week that I am about halfway through my initial twelve month contract at MegaBank. It was one of those moments where you feel a bit…taken aback. It was not unlike getting together with a friend after what seems like no time at all to find that the baby she “just” had is now eleven years old and trying on a teenager’s ‘tude.

Whaaaaaaat? When did THAT happen?!

To be honest, my first thought upon realizing that the contract was half over was a sturdy round of “oh @*&^@!!!”

I haven’t paid off as much as I wanted. I don’t have the savings I wanted to have. I don’t feel like I’ve got anything to show for all this crazy.

But as I was working myself up into a true and proper fit about it, I thought maybe I should take an actual look-see at how things were going. Maybe get some actual numbers together instead of just going with the gut feeling that nothing was happening.

Nothing is not happening. (…dude…wait…what?)

Let me put that another way (yes, please): Things are definitely happening. Good things. Very good things. We’re stabilizing and moving forward and paying things down and saving a little up and most importantly of all I am not performing weekly acts of Accounting Alchemy to keep checks from bouncing like a Pinkie ball on a playground full of hyperactive fifth graders.

But in the course of going over the records since I went back to work in November, I discovered something I hadn’t really realized before: The period between just-before-Christmas and April is kinda hellish for us, in terms of big ticket stuff coming due all at once.

I hadn’t realized it before because in the days before the Great Under-Employment Fiasco of 2008-2009™, I did this crazy thing called ‘savings goals’ to handle things like the property taxes and the insurance premiums. So each month when I was paying other bills, I’d set aside an amount equal to 1/12 of the anticipated bill. It’s just a virtual envelope in the savings account; Quicken makes this painlessly easy for me. It can even “hide” the cash so that I can forget all about it until the time comes to cash it out.

Then, when Due Date rolls around, you know, {shrug}. Transfer the money out of the savings account, pay the bill. No problem.

It had become so automatic for me that I didn’t really think about what it did for me, year after year…until it was gone and I was left with the alternative, which is to find yourself scrambling flat-footed with five days until Due Date on a $2,000 “pay up now” statement. Gah!

Needless to say, I spent some quality time this weekend setting up the savings goals for next year. The virtual accounts are set up, and the “bills” to fill them up scheduled, each and every month…and accounted for in my new budget.

And then I looked at the rest of the year and had to smile. The flipside of all those big expensive bills coming due all at once over that four months period is that we’re now clear of such things until December.

Sure, I can’t guarantee something stupid won’t happen that costs us a bundle (and in point of fact, it is entirely likely that even daring to post about not expecting big bills in the near future is practically inviting the roof to collapse or one of the cars to spontaneously combust)…but even if it does, it will happen in the absence of another big old bill for property taxes or insurance.

Which means I should be able to get some actual traction going, here.

Which will make all the crazy seem a lot more worth doing, don’t you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the "saving goals." Once I got started, I couldn't imagine having to go back to scrambling for $$ when the bills came in.

Have you ever done a blog trying to "sell" the idea? That would be nice, especially with details on how you do it. (How many categories, how to get started, how to make the tracking easy enough to keep up with.)