I might as well just write off this week. It’s been horrible.
I’ve had some kind of illness or a bug which has knocked me for six. I write this on a Monday afternoon and can pretty much say that this is the best I have felt for about a week, and the first time that I haven’t long to spend all day in bed since about Wednesday.
My poor girlfriend has had to put up with me moping around the house (which would normally be a good thing given that we have a long-distance relationship and so get very little time together) and generally being like a bad smell or an unwanted shadow. She’s coped remarkably well, even if she can’t quite wrap her head around the fact that I long for bed when I’m ill - something that she doesn’t seem to do.
Illness aside, I am still using YNAB - Week 5 has gone and it encompassed payday.
I got paid on Friday and although the wages have appeared in my account I’m not sure if they are correct or not. The reason for this is that I work in a job which pays commission and I’m not sure if I have been paid the correct amount of commission this month. My payslip feels lighter than it should, but it could just be that the tax man has stung me heavily for some reason. I’m not going to know for definite until I get my payslip, but until then I have to assume that the pay is correct and that this month is going to be hard.
The result of all of this is that is difficult to work out my YNAB.
I’m looking at my budget at the moment and I really have no money at all once I pay my bills and a few small luxuries. Using YNAB has allowed me to review not only my budget on a daily spend basis but also my bills.
This morning I realised that Sky have been overcharging me for a few weeks, which is something I may have missed had I not been paying closer attention to my money. I was on live chat to them this morning (in other words, a live instant messenger program) and managed to get it sorted, even though their live chat assistant was unable to be too much help himself. (What’s the point of having an online contact, Sky, if they are unable to make amendments to anything?).
It turned out that although I had a £10 per month discount applied to my account, which had been agreed when I called up to cancel the entire service a few weeks back, they hadn’t also downgraded my package which they said they would do. Instead of the £21 bill that I was expecting I was hit with £57. Ouch.
I’ve managed to change my package online now, but if I want to get compensation or to have a proper moan at Sky (as it was their cock-up, in fairness) then I have to call them, and I really can’t be bothered right now.
The real benefit I’m noticing of using YNAB at the moment is that I am really reviewing what I’m spending my money on. There was a point in the past where I would quite happily go and spend money on small luxuries or gifts, without thinking. Whereas now I am really thinking about whether I need to spend that money at all.
The girlfriend and I had lunch today and although it was more expensive than I would have hoped for (our initial plans to eat cheaply were thwarted by a massive queue and a set amount of time that we had available), I noticed that I was taking note of the prices of food and drink whereas before I wouldn’t have overly worried.
I’m still undecided whether this was as a result of the budgeting, or a conscious (or perhaps unconscious) effort to not pig out on food. That’s right, I skipped dessert.
I know I’ve said it before but using budgeting software needs a real change in the way I think about things and the way I approach money.
It is quite scary looking at my financial situation at the moment. Although I have to say it isn’t as bleak as it could be, I do find myself looking at my budget as well as my income and outgoings, and worrying.
Although that said, as much as it feels quite a weight on my shoulders, there is light at the end of the tunnel and I could be a lot worse off. This is a situation which is stark and real in front of me right now, but at least I have control and it offers me the opportunity to fix things.
If I analyse things a little more, the main problem I’m finding at the moment is self-induced. I am very quick to budget my money when I get paid and to “give each dollar a job” as they are quick to say in YNAB’s Rule One, but I am also very quick to change these around. Perhaps quicker than I should be.
I find it very easy at the start of the month to allocate a budget for a certain section (for example restaurants) and to think that I have allocated enough. Once I get through the month I find that I haven’t allocated enough to that particular category and I then choose to change the budget. Although YNAB encourages this (Rule 3: Roll with the punches), what I should do in reality is to look at my budget, realise that I’m coming close to reaching the allocated budget for that category and then making the conscious choice to not go to the restaurant.
This is a process that will take time.
At the moment, I’m happy that I have pretty much stopped using my credit cards to pay for things (though I admit that I am still far too scared to get rid of them entirely). I still have some way to go before being fully in control of my spending and in turn, my budget (or should that be the other way around?). But for now, I’m happy with that.
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