On my mind a lot lately, though, have been our personal finances. They have been...let's just say...less than stellar for the month of January. Honestly, I've been watching them daily as the end of the month has drawn near. That's just how tough things have been this month.
In pondering the "whys" of January being so much more difficult than previous months, I consulted my Mint account. There are several reasons that stare me in the face. Reasons that we cannot excuse. Reasons that were decisions that we made during the month that strongly affected the monthly totals.
Here are some of our pitfalls for the month:
- We had to have the brakes repaired on the van. That repair went far above our monthly car maintenance budget (which covers a little more than one oil change a month). It went over by about $330. I pulled money from savings to do it. Thank goodness for a savings account, even if it a small one. We were able to do it with cash, but now need to replenish that money missing from savings.
- Restaurants. Yes...it has always been our downfall. But this month I had great intentions of it being so ON budget. And it almost was...save one GIGANTIC mistake. We had some friends visit one day and had a FABULOUS time with them. We had been given a restaurant.com gift certificate from some other friends because Chip helped them paint and get their house ready to move into. It was a great gift. So we went to a really nice restaurant downtown to use it at. We found out, after we had ordered and gotten our food, that we would not be able to use that gift card (long story as to why, but we're better educated now). Damage done? $72 just that night. Ouch. That made our total $76 over budget for the month (see how good we ALMOST did?!).
- Clothing. After Christmas there were some great sales going on online (you remember them, don't you?). Well, I took advantage of three of them (Children's Place, NY & Co, and Kohl's). At TCP I got some stuff for next winter for both of the kids at rock bottom prices. At New York & Company I got some great winter stuff for me and my post-baby body for work. At Kohl's I got some great deals for the entire family for this winter, next winter, and to replace some really tired and worn stuff from Chip's and my closet. I honestly saved over $800 in clothing in these combined sales. But I spent approximately $200 to do it. I'm trying to convince myself that I SAVED 80% and that's a good thing. But I'm way over our clothing budget now. I will count it as an investment.
- Our timeshare. This thing is just a financial drain to us. We paid someone just over $600 to sell it for us about 3 months ago and found out that we'd been taken for a ride. Yes...they listed it, but they are doing NOTHING to market it for us. We have now paid another $400 (after much thought, several emails of reassurance--and evidence--from the new company) to have a marketing company list it. They have brokers and the means to get our $600+ back from the other company (long story, but I have in email that they will be getting it back for us, so I'm holding them to it). This thing is just a thorn in our side. This new company will get huge realtor commissions if/when they sell it, so they actually have incentive (where the other company did not). Hopefully it will sell soon and we can eliminate this monthly payment and add it to our credit card payment. (and if it sells for the asking price, we'll actually make some profit).
There were some other, more minor, things that set us back, but these are the biggies. So...all of that to tell you...this month has hurt.
And here's my other confession. The truly embarrassing one.
We haven't been tithing. For about 8 months.
I am ashamed to tell you that, but it is the truth.
I'm not really sure why we stopped, but we did.
But now, even when the budget is too tight and we are in a financial hole, we are starting to tithe again. I am trusting God to provide where we fall short.
He has already been faithful to provide thus far, but now I am surrendering our finances to Him and letting Him fill in the gaps, because we're obviously just no good at it.
Last week was the first weekend that I put a tithe check into the collection plate in a while. It was 10% of Chip's unemployment check. So it wasn't much, but it was what we had for the week. And frankly, starting small like that, made it a little easier.
This week will be 10% of mine and his combined. And it will be difficult to let go. But I'm trusting Him to take care of it, and frankly, He already is. If I go into the "hows" of it here, this post will be 3x longer than it already is, and I'm sure I've already lost most of you. So that post will be for another day.
Sigh...that's my confessional post for today. It is utterly embarrassing to hit "publish," but I feel I need to do it. I am trying to get out from under my bondage to our finances and part of that means an emotional letting go as well...thus my letting go of my pride to tell you these things.
Next Thursday, since the month of January will finally be over, I will be posting my monthly results, as ugly as they are.