What’s changed in the nine months since I first started entering my expenses into a spreadsheet? Back then, you’ll remember, I was afraid of writing down a budget, I had no health insurance, I didn’t feel like I could track my money with an irregular income, and I always felt guilty about paying for things. Now, I have a budget that I’m working towards, I have health, dental, and an IRA, I set things up so that I can budget my income as if it were regular, and I know when I have enough money to buy things so I feel less guilty. Best of all, I no longer feel like my money is just disappearing. I still don’t make all that much money (less than $1000/month), but I have a much better handle on where it’s coming from, where it’s going, and how I can use that to prepare for adverse situations.
My current setup isn’t sustainable, of course, but it doesn’t have to be. This is just a stepping stone on the way towards the life I want. Eventually, I’ll be in a place where I can get rid of my car, I’ll own a house, and I’ll be making enough money that I can set aside more for retirement. Until then, I’ll keep sticking to my budget and suffering the pitying stares and rolled eyes of those who just don’t understand.
If I leave you with one thought, let it be this one: controlling your finances is a long process and a hard process, but it’s a great process.
When you’re ready to take the plunge, there are all kinds of resources that make it easier. One of the best is Get Rich Slowly, a daily financial blog for normal folks.