I have a confession to make: I've fallen off of the personal finance wagon.
When I look at my posts from last summer, I see a young woman who had financial goals and plans, who had a system for tracking expenses, who made extra debt payments. I see someone in control of her finances.
How is it that now, with more money to my name, I'm so much less in control?
Over the past couple of months
- I haven't made a single extra debt repayment. My stated goal when I got started was to pay down my debt, and somehow that has just gotten completely lost in the course of my life.
- I haven't made a budget. This is probably part of the reason I haven't seen the money that should have gone to debt reduction. All the money comes in, all the money goes out. Any money I "save" with grocery coupons or by cutting my electric bill just seems to disappear into the cash flow.
- I haven't tracked my expenses. Not only haven't I budgeted for my monthly expenses, I really couldn't even tell you what they are. Have I cut my electric bill? I have no metric for comparison.
I'm sure there are many other ways in which I've lost control of my monthly finances, but I'm not even organized enough to know what they are. And yet . . . and yet. . . in a saner, more financially literate frame of mind, I set up a few idiot-proof systems for myself, so that despite all this, I'm better off than I was a year ago. I started investing in my 403(b) to the match, I set up and autodraft to a high interest savings account (for my summer emergency fund) and another autodraft to a mutual fund. I switched my student loan repayment plan from extended to standard. My money is doing what it needs to do.
But I'm not. I feel like I'm completely out of control when it comes to my finances. It's not a lack of money so much as a lack of a system. I want to get back to where I was last year, when I could discourse intelligently on interest rates, but I just feel so overwhelmed and behind that I don't know where to begin.