$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $
The Hubby and I started a budget several years ago. We were struggling financially, and always thought that it would help if I got a better paying job (since I had a job that paid very little). I applied for and got a job earning 10K per year more than I had been making and we thought we were home free. Not.
Unfortunately we continued to spend every last penny and then some every month. We tried budgeting several times but it took us a few tries to find something that worked well for both of us. Finally the Hubby designed an awesome, amazing, wonderful spreadsheet and we decided to just spend 'normally' the first month and record everything we bought or spent money on. Everything. It was shocking to say the least to find out that we spent almost $1000 that month on what we considered 'household' items. Holy cow! We had thought that we only spent about $300 in that area so it was an eye-opener.
After the shock dissipated, we had the motivation we needed and spent the first few months "meeting" weekly to input our numbers and review our budget. It was awesome to feel so in control of our money. I no longer had to feel guilty about buying anything because we budgeted for things. (It had gotten to the point where I felt guilty buying groceries!)
After a couple of years we stopped scrutinizing our numbers so much. Our spending habits had become, well, habits and we were doing just fine. Then came some life changes - We got married, got pregnant, bought a house, kept a home for rental property, moved and I went on maternity leave, slashing my income in half. For the last six months I feel out of control - I again feel guilty for every dollar I spend and really need to get back into better money management habits again.
After some procrastination (this was supposed to be my New Year's Resolution) we are back on track for March 1st - back to tracking and reviewing our spending and generally feeling more in control. It's kind of like when you realize you haven't cleaned your fridge in a loooooong time but the thought of digging into those dark containers at the very back with green fur growing up the sides is not very appealing. You put it off for awhile, but every time you open the fridge the guilt hits you and finally you bite the bullet, have a couple of glasses of wine and clean the fridge out. The wonderful feeling afterwards makes it all worthwhile (even if you decided to just cut your losses and throw out the tupperware).
So now we have our budget - it'll be a work in progress as we figure out how much we actually spend on things like diapers (an insane amount!) and utilities (bigger house means more!) but we're headed in the right direction!