Sunday, March 2, 2008

Financial frustrations

My husband and I have done a lot of great things this year, as far as our finances go. For the first time, I started putting money in my 405(b) at work and have managed to consistently max out my match. We opened a brokerage account and have been dutifully investing $100 every month into a good value mutual fund which we intend to keep for at least 5 years (probably more). I set up a direct draft from my checking account into my ING account - which is my emergency/summer fund - of $150 a month.

I know all this. I know I have money stashed and money automatically going to fund my goals and needs. I know that we're doing a lot better than we were doing last year. So why do I feel like we can't make any progress?

For the past few months, I've been working my butt off. I was working my second job, I was doing surveys and dealbarbie offers, I was unplugging small appliances throughout my house. I've been making my own bread, cooking more and more meals from scratch, clipping coupons and matching deals. Every month, I think to myself "Look at all the extra money I will have at the end of the month to put toward our debt!" And then every month, we get to the end of the month and. . . I don't.

This month, I got my last part time job check for a while, and it was a big one. At least, I thought to myself, this money can go straight to our loans. (I never include the extra checks in our normal budget, so they are a bonus when they come.) Then my husband came home from work and set, nervously, that he really thinks his car needs new tires. I sighed and handed him the check. Oh well.

I know that this is silly. If he needed new tires and I hadn't worked extra, we would have had to tap into savings. I know that by working hard, I am helping our financial situation. It just seems like . . . we never get anywhere. But maybe until hubby finishes school, I have to be content with treading water and maybe occasionally taking small strokes forward. Sigh.


traineeinvestor said...

It's easy to get a bit despondant when expenses that aren't in the budget keep hitting you (and I don't even want to think about the financial cost inflicted on us by our children). This is why perseverence or discipline is often listed as one of the key features of financial success.

So long as things are moving in the right direction, a few ups and downs on the way are normal and just make getting there much more satisfying in the end.

Chief Family Officer said...

One way to maintain motivation and stay positive is to track your net worth since a lot of your savings aren't really in a place where you're going to really notice them. By tracking your net worth, you'll be able to see that number going up, which will give you that sense of accomplishment.

Once in a while, I'll log into my 401(k) account just to see the balance and put a smile on my face. I've been invested for long enough (and am diversified enough) that even with the decline in the market, I have a net gain. So I look at the number I've invested over the years (it's listed as the amount I can take out as a loan), and then the total balance, and I can see how much I've made just by contributing every month. It's pretty satisfying. Hope that helps! You're doing great, so just hang in there and keep at it.