Where’s my money?

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As I write this, I am preparing to do my 3rd “fresh start” since the start of the year. Considering we’re only 3 months in, that says a lot. I’m talking about a budgeting fresh start, of course.

As I mentioned when I laid out my goals for the year, money management is an area I need to work on. Although I have studied more finance, economics and accounting than most techies would, I am surprisingly bad with money. Not with other people’s money, mind you. There I am a real penny-pincher, making sure I can account for every single dollar (and part thereof, lol). But with my own money… well, it’s not as straight-forward.

Some of the issues stem from my general dislike for managing money, budgeting, tracking expenses and all the other things that go into it. While I love what money facilitates, I would be so happy if it would just appear when I needed it (who wouldn’t be?). Other issues include my overly generous spirit which sees me helping people and sharing even when I don’t really have enough to go around. There are also emotional issues tied to money that see me spending emotionally (usually online) when I am upset and stressed.

All of those issues mean that though I start out with the best of intentions, somewhere around the middle of the month, I’ve stopped tracking my expenses, I’ve abandoned checking my budget to see what’s available, and I am usually beginning the end-of-month challenge of stretching to the next pay cheque. [Note: I am editing this post on April 16 to prepare for scheduling and this is my exact financial state today, so another fresh start is on its way, sigh.]

Clearly, this is far from ideal. My solution is to try to work with the rules of YNAB. They sound simple, but are quite comprehensive and work really well over time. I have stuck to them in the past for a period and managed to get control of my money, so I need to re-establish that pattern.

Rule number one is making sure every dollar has a job. So no more just having money sitting in my account to be spent as I feel. I will assign each dollar to something specific, so I know where I intend for it to go. Ideally, that will include savings and investments.

The other rules will follow, but I need to start small (again). So my fresh start at the beginning of May will give me a clean slate to start where I am, with what money I have. That will be a first step towards financial stability. Another part of it will involve the career aspect, but that’s another post for another day.