It's a name, a word, an idea that can strike a chord of fear, stress, anxiety, and even excitement in our hearts. Probably fear the most!
It's something most people probably have and/or need. For us, it is a need. When you are a family of 5, living in an expensive city, have children with rapidly growing appetites and bodies and do not have a lot of money to work with, you must have a budget.
I don't remember having a budget when we first got married. Did we even need a budget? We were living on love! The first time that I really remember us sitting down to figure out a budget was after we'd been in Chicago for a year. We had a general, wimpy budget. A little food, a lot of rent (which, unfortunately double the minute we made our move from Indiana to Illinois and has continued to increase since), some clothes for our cute new baby, we were set, right?!
Wrong. Suddenly a year later, it came time to plan out our finances, as we have done every August/September since we've been here, being on the academic calendar. And we realized, all those little extra trips for the "forgotten" dinner ingredients down the street at the ridiculously-over-priced grocery store? Killed what little budget we had.
Oh.....a budget! You mean, we have to actually restrict our store trips and have a limit on how much we spend? Yikes! So we did the nasty, the ugly, the horrible job of calculating what we were spending on average and after we got over our spasms, chest pains and finger-pointing, we settled on a budget.
You know a stinky thing about budgets? They don't stay the same because prices continue to increase! Very annoying.
So our budget has been tweaked and twanged, cursed over, dusted off and recalculated every single August/September. Gradually, as the University sucked my husband in and claimed him as its own, Headmaster Heidi took over budget duties. And one baby became two. Rent went up a certain percentage every year. People needed clothes. We moved. A few times. Had the third bambino. Continued to feed these bottomless pits, we call children. Had to buy a bigger car. And pay for the gas that is so overpriced here. And so on and so on.
And the guilt of my failure at not being able to have a perfect budget and remake my children's clothes out of rugs and drapes, eat beans 65 times a week and make my own shampoo like all the other perfect bloggy moms out there, really began to weigh on me. I always kept thinking "this month will be the month I stay on track and do a better job." And then, oh, crap, milk rose another $.20 a gallon, Samuel grew out of his underwear and the car's making a funny noise.
Budget? What budget? And on and on. Recently, as God has been breathing new life into our family and home and revealing areas of neglect, we have been (as you can probably tell) revamping many things here at home to make things run more smoothly and efficiently. Today was budget day. It wasn't planned. It started suddenly with tears (on my part, of course) and frustration but it ended on a really good note.
You know how sometimes, even though you might have a semblance of a budget, money just seems to fall into a black hole? Kind of like socks after laundry day? Well, we fixed some of those holes today. We decided to apply our new cleaning rule to our budget, a home for everything! A home for every dollar. Our miscellaneous fund, which includes Ben's monthly nasal spray (a lifetime expense), laundry money and clothing among other things, isn't very large but is constantly blown to pieces. We added some specific categories, moved some things around and most of all....we got on the same page (imagine that!!) and for the first time in awhile, I am feeling real hope that next month really will be a good month.
One of our new favorite verses is in Jeremiah 17. It says, "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
We've been like thirsty plants for so long but now we are being replanted and soaking Him up like a tree by the stream! Allowing Him to shed light on dirty, dusty areas so we can clean them up and honor Him better. It's painful and it hurts kind of like ripping off a scab but underneath, it feels really good.
Oh, and we were able to cut our internet bill down by $35 a month!! Our internet provider didn't quite tell us we had some other options until they were forced to send out a price change sheet of all their services recently. Despite me asking them at least 3 times in the last 6 months if we had other choices or options to lower our bill, no one ever told me that we could downgrade to a lower plan! Frustrating to say the least, but at least now we can save a little $ in that area. It never hurts to ask! Again and again and again....:)
We got caught up on some other things today like sending out invitations for Z's bday party next weekend! I was a bad mommy and procrastinated on the planning and details and we had to postpone til next weekend instead of this weekend. I feel really bad but he's been really gracious, as children always are, and hopefully it will be special for him.
I asked him if he could turn 5 again and he said, "No way!! But...I might stay 6, if you want me to...." Such a sweetheart! Pics of the birthday boy tomorrow!!!