Seven months is a long time, friends. I feel like I should be an old pro at this budgeting stuff by now. However, I still struggle.
The tracking of our expenses has gotten easier. I still like getting notifications from Chase, although, I am strongly considering finding a different bank. I would like to work with something smaller. Recently, I’ve had some not-so-awesome experiences with Chase that have made me re-think my decision to bank with them. For example, if I transfer money from our savings account to our checking account more than six times in one month, they’re going to charge me $5 per transfer. This is a problem because that’s how we manage David’s bonuses and our extra expenses. They also weren’t super helpful or honest with me about what it takes to set up a 529 for our daughter. I need to do some research to find a local bank with good mobile services and features, as that’s a large component of how we budget. I still want to get notifications, and I need to be able to manage the accounts online.
That brings me to our next issue and what I’ve been struggling with the most. David’s salary and bonus schedule is killing me. It’s so difficult to budget without concrete numbers. We’ve been okay financially, so I know he makes enough to cover the bills. It’s just really hard to track it efficiently and plan for our irregular expenses. For example, I’d love to plan ahead and save for car registration, oil changes, holidays and maybe even a camping trip. But I can’t because I don’t know how much money will be coming in each month. I guess I could try to find the patterns and estimate, but I feel like I have no idea how to do that. It’s very stressful.
Also, we’ve been chugging along with our child support case. I haven’t mentioned it since this summer because nothing was really happening, but we’ve started to get some answers the past few weeks. David’s been paying child support for his daughter since he and her mother separated. They were never married, so there’s never been anything on paper. This past summer, the mother filed for support through the state. Since then, we’ve had to pay for a lawyer, etc. to figure all this out. It’s been stressful and messy and has sparked quite a few arguments. However, we’re closing in on the exact numbers and what we’ll pay each month, as well as other expenses we’ll contribute to. That throws another wrench into my planning.
The numbers will be fairly fixed, which is great. But, again, without a fixed income each month, it’s extremely difficult to plan. No matter what happens, David and I are going to have to be more diligent about our finances than ever before.
Even though we’ve spent this time making a budget and I’ve been tracking our expenses, we still aren’t quite on the same page or talking about our money as much as we should be.
It’s such a touchy thing, money. It brings up all kinds of triggers for our fears and our shame and our insecurities. To tackle this and to make sure we don’t get run over by our financial issues, we are really going to need to work as a team. This is way easier said than done, especially with our blended family situation. I feel like if we can just remain honest and keep each other accountable, we can conquer this money thing once and for all. I want budget to become habit, and I want to set a good example for our kids. I think we can do that.