The Great Budgeting Saga of 2015 aka The Time I Cried in the Parking Lot of the Gym

by Melody on January 20, 2016

The Great Budgeting Saga of 2015 or The Time I Cried in the Parking Lot of the Gym

Alright dear ones.  I told you I would give you all the gory details of THE GREAT BUDGETING SAGA OF 2015.  I started by poking around the blog to read a few of the other budgeting posts I have written and realized this disaster is not limited to 2015.  There was The Great Budgeting Saga of 2014 and Taking Back the Budget in 2015.  Reading these made me sad.  And angry with myself.

Nutshell.

In 2014, we were GOOD.  Things were figured out.  Life was paid for.  We were veterans of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and were debt free except for our mortgage.  Then we put one large purchase on our credit card and things snowballed.  We then decided to go ALL THE PLACES and DO ALL THE THINGS and charge EVERYTHING THAT COULD EVER BE CHARGED.

In 2015, we tried to take control of the damage.  In January, we sat down with our yearly calendar and said yes to ONLY the things we really wanted to do and a tough no to all the other things.  We talked about every purchase.  We stayed in instead of going out.

But here’s where it gets tricky.

We aren’t necessarily in debt because we have no income.  Yes, we made poor choices with our credit card, but our income stream is okay.  Our outgoing expenses are bumped up by the fact that we have both kids in private school.  For last year’s school season, we were just fine.  But then one of my larger contracts ended and my second largest got cut down by a significant percentage.  I knew that with a budget conversation would bring the suggestion to change the kids’ schooling arrangements and I just couldn’t stomach the thought.  So I ignored it.  And I never really let on to my husband how bad it was getting.

I know.  We could not have the kids in private school.  I hear what you are already planning to say.  But for anyone who has ever made the tough choice about how to educate their kids or what is the best fit for them, you know this is not an easy solution.

We had a hard year with our first grader last year and we 100% know the only reason we got through it unscathed (ALL of us) was because of the amazing teacher he had and the incredible Montessori environment he was in.  So many of his quirks and his struggles and his challenges may have been missed or mishandled had he not been where he was.  We are not wealthy people.  We cut corners and make sacrifices and go without in other areas so we can make this work for our family.  It was never and WILL NEVER BE an easy choice.

We got through the summer and into the new school year okay.  But then tuition started up again in September and I started to lose control of the budget again.  I was solely in control of the budget for a few reasons.  I had managed it FOREVER and did just fine.  I hated change.  And I HATED the idea of my husband knowing the precarious situation we were in.  Some of you will probably say that I should have just told him.  And I know this.  But have you ever had to have this conversation?

It wasn’t even necessarily that I had racked up charges on our credit cards buying expensive shoes or that I had a secret online gambling problem.  These were just our everyday expenses that we couldn’t cover.  I was embarrassed.  I was humiliated.  And if I’m being honest with myself, wasn’t even ready to start saying no to everything, because I knew that’s what was coming.

But the day was here.  A check I had been expecting was late in the mail and I had to contact our son’s school and ask them to hold his tuition check for a few days.  I had been walking around for weeks and weeks with an extremely painful pit in my stomach.  I had anxiety.  I couldn’t sleep.  And then this?  This was threatening to send me flying off the cliff.  And I had nobody to share it with.

For two days, I tried to tell my husband when he got home from work.  I opened my mouth like a fish gasping for air but nothing would come out.  He mentioned a few times that he was having a tough time at work and I justified not telling him by saying I would make his day harder with the knowledge that our finances were in shambles.

I was not brave.

The next day, I was driving to the gym and started having what felt like a minor anxiety attack. I was sweating, I felt nauseous, I felt hungry, I felt angry, I felt like crying. So I called my husband at work because I couldn’t bear having to watch his face fall while I told him. Like the big chicken I am, I unloaded it all on him while he was supposed to be taking care of one million other things. I cried in that big, racking, heaving, sobbing way until I could barely breathe, but I got it all out.

And you guys? While I had made his day infinitely harder, he graciously lifted that load right off my shoulders and put it onto his own. This had been my fear all along, that I would make us both miserable instead of trying to bear it all on my own. But he was so forgiving and strong when I was weak that I felt as if the burden on BOTH of us was lightened. The fight was still massively uphill and the hole was still so deep it was halfway to China, but sharing the anxiety made it feel less somehow.

What felt like the hardest part was over. But now the major work had to begin. Stay tuned.

 

This is a tough story to tell, but as finances are one of the things that people tend to struggle with the most, I have to assume it will resonate with some of you.

Have you hit bottom like we did? What was the catalyst to send you in the right direction? Do you have something in your budget that you will make sacrifices for, like private school for us?

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I seriously can NOT recommend Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover enough.  We have used his simple budgeting principles to dig us out before and we will use them again.  It’s not easy, it’s hard work.  There is no quick fix, but it works.  If you are struggling like we are but don’t have the tools to turn to, I 100% suggest this book.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Margaret January 20, 2016 at 6:21 pm

Thank you for sharing your story, and reminding me that we are all works in progress, even our budgeting and finances. I work part time, overnight shifts so that I can be as close to a stay at home mom as possible. So we try and make it work, on one and a half pay checks. It gets frustrating sometimes, but my daughter is 10 and we gave made it this far. I would live to do something small from home to make a little extra, but we will see. Thank you for your honesty.

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Melody January 21, 2016 at 11:22 am

I love that you are making it work!! I have heard so many people say they could never make it work to stay home (which some legitimately can’t!), but I do think more people could than they think.

There are definitely some good work from home options. SO many are not viable, but with the explosion of blogging and online businesses, there are opportunities in social media management, virtual assisting, ghost writing. Good luck!

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Becky January 20, 2016 at 7:50 pm

Love your honesty on this journey. Many are there or have been there, but most will not admit it. I have experienced your guilt and anger too. I still remember all the occassions when I told my husband not to spend any money and asked him to wait to fill up his car with gas. The worst part was many of these times he had just gotten paid. Hang in there. You got this.

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Melody January 21, 2016 at 11:24 am

Ack! I’ve totally been there. It made me feel so awful, because he really didn’t know where we were at at that point. Even though we are working hard in the trenches now, it’s so much better that we are on the same page and I can be honest about when we can get gas. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Janna January 20, 2016 at 8:37 pm

Mel – I admire you for sharing your real life stories. Things look rosey on the outside but it’s good to know that you have the same struggled as others!

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Melody January 21, 2016 at 11:25 am

Thanks Janna! Isn’t that the truth that things always look good on the outside? I am a firm believer in airing dirty laundry so people don’t think they are trudging through it alone.

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sara January 20, 2016 at 10:31 pm

Thanks for sharing! I realized after last year you can always have set backs and lose control of your budget. We said yes to way to many things last year and I watched our savings that I was so proud of get down to very low. But I’m refreshed this year and always learning how to improve our budget and continue to work towards our mortgage being our only debt! I read your blog daily thanks for all your hard work and honest posts!

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Melody January 21, 2016 at 11:28 am

It’s so hard to say no, especially when you have friends that are in a slightly more comfortable boat than you (which is where we are, for the most part). When everything is doing everything on every weekend, it’s so hard to miss out. 🙁

I honestly thought when we were debt free the first time that we would never have to worry about money again, but it’s so easy to fall into the same traps that we did before. As long as we are honest with ourselves and the direction we are heading, things have to get better, right? I’ve always said when we start changing things for ourselves, saying no, not charging anything, good things start happening. Damn Murphy’s Law. 🙂

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mom4me January 21, 2016 at 8:48 am

Your honesty is what keeps me coming back to your blog. Thanks for bearing it all and sharing it with your readers – that takes some guts. You can do this, you have the skills and knowledge. Go strong.

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Melody January 21, 2016 at 11:29 am

Thank you for the sweet comment, this is why I continue to share. Cheers to a great (and debt free) year!

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Emily January 21, 2016 at 5:47 pm

I love these budgeting posts. It’s nice to know others struggle with the same things and are fighting hard to make it work. I always assume our friends make more money, have more savings, fewer financial stresses, etc. than we do. Which is dumb, but I guess because it’s just not something we talk about. This was a huge encouragement to me. Thanks!

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Melody February 3, 2016 at 1:12 pm

I totally agree! I was talking to a friend about how we have groups of friends that are farther along and more settled in their financial/business journey and that they clearly have more money. She said “Are you sure they do?”. Totally made me think. While I have chatted off and on about small financial things here and there, we never truly know where another family or couple or person is at. We always assume they are better off than us, but I’m sure people could have felt the same about us, based on how we were spending. I’m all about transparency. Clearly. 🙂

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Darlene January 21, 2016 at 5:57 pm

Dave Ramsey is awesome. The book is good but the Financial Peace class is even better and worth the sacrifice to take. If you haven’t taken it you would learn a lot.

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Melody February 3, 2016 at 1:10 pm

I’ve heard that from so many people, maybe it’s time for us? We have read the books so many times and felt as if we knew what we were doing, but clearly we aren’t experts. 🙂 It energizes us every time we reread, so I can only imagine what the class would do!

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Andrea January 28, 2016 at 7:55 am

Glad to know that we’re not the only family who sacrificed royally in making the choice to commit to private school for our children! Beans & rice (pre-DR), hanging laundry to dry in the living room during the winter, picking and canning as much as we could handle, etc. etc. etc. Having been where you are now, we made a drastic decision to homeschool our children for one school year due to temporary financial shortages. The teachers and our children’s school were supportive, knowing that we would be returning the following school year. It was really tough (kudos to all of those teachers out there!), but we got through it and the kids slipped back in the following school year as if nothing had happened. Good luck to you on your journey!

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Melody February 3, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Oh my goodness Andrea, thank you for sharing! I NEVER even considered just home schooling for one year. HS pops in and out of my head and I just never think I’m cut out for it, but the idea of just one year to save money was an option I never even thought about. There are so many decisions to be made when it comes to kids’ education!! Until a few years ago, we just assumed we’d be in public. Not for one hot minute did we consider paying for school. That was just for rich folk. 🙂

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