Budget 911

In May I traded my unpredictable life as a freelancer for a full-time job with benefits and a regular paycheck. I'm making pretty decent money, it's coming in every two weeks like clockwork, and I no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a month for my self-employed health insurance. I'm even making a little extra freelance money on the side.

But I'm still broke. And I'm not just broke. I am BROKE. Today I'm picking out some things to sell on eBay (including this cute little tin litho car). But I'm so broke that I'm worried about whether I can cover the auction listing fees. I'm so broke that I'm planning to raid my change jar and return some bottles to the store get the deposit back. Pathetic, huh?

Every month I think I'm going to get ahead financially and every month I slip a little further behind. At first I wasn't really sure why this was happening. I thought for sure I was making a mistake in balancing my checkbook. Or that someone had stolen my debit card. Or that my direct deposit wasn't getting recorded. But I think I've figured out what's happening.

I'm spending too much money.

For one thing, I'm paying my taxes as I go along now (something I was never good at doing when I was self-employed). I guess that's preferable to getting to April 15 and realizing I owe the government thousands of dollars that I don't actually have. For another, I used up all my savings and built up some credit card debt in the months before I got this job. I knew it was going to take me a while to pay off my debt and start saving again. But I'm used to paying off my credit card balance each month and the finance charges are killing me. But the real problem isn't neccessarily poor cash flow or interest charges. It's that I'm still spending money as if I have money. Which I don't.

I need to stop doing that.

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