Diary of an (Eventual) Budgeting Success Story: Part Two — Real Life

Annnnd we’re back with Carrie Hart, who just completed her second month of budgeting. There were highs and there were lows. But she learned a lot and she’s sticking with it.

If you are new to the blog here is a quick recap to get you up to speed: Carrie Hart, a 44-year-old mother of two from Traverse City, Michigan, recently quit her job to pursue a life-long dream of doing overseas volunteer work.

After years of collecting debt, living beyond her means, and “avoiding anything related to actually learning how to manage money like a grown-up” – Carrie went searching for some help. She agreed to let us follow her for a year, her first year, of budgeting in real life. You can read her whole backstory here.

When we checked in with Carrie, we were impressed with her honesty and her willingness to ask hard questions of herself – her habits, her motivations, and her spending. Because you see, these are traits of expert budgeters.

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Two months in, here are some thoughts from Carrie that might help you along your own journey:

“So, turns out, I’m impulsive.” – The concept of tracking every dollar was new to Carrie. Using the iPhone app was “kind of revolutionary” and she began to see her own patterns; buying something, anything really, could make her feel better in the moment. Sometimes she did it without even thinking about it – until it came time to enter it in YNAB. “Whoopsies.”

“I do make fabulous dinners but I do not plan.” – Carrie “kind of, sort of “ knew she didn’t like to plan, but eating out for lack of a plan surfaced as a very clear theme. While she and her husband value eating good food and love to “experience” eating out, they realize they can’t afford for it to be quite the priority that it has been. At all. Not even close.

“Basements flood and it sucks.” – When Carrie’s basement flooded, along with a lot of water, there was a flood of expenses they were not ready for.

“We had been doing so well – I looked forward to putting money in the categories; it was like a game I was winning. But when the basement flooded, we fell off the wagon in terms of tracking and it all felt overwhelming and out of control.”

Suddenly, she didn’t feel like she was winning – in fact, quite the opposite. She lost momentum.

“But my perspective has fundamentally shifted.” – Even though everything wasn’t easy or going perfectly, Carrie knew she was fundamentally different. Instead of just being depressed and going off the deep end, the basement flooding was a reminder of the importance of budgeting: “More than ever I know the importance of saving and doubling down so the next time something like this happens we are in a different situation.”

“I’m an emotional spender. And an emotional eater. I’m an emotional spender-eater.” – The thing about budgeting – its about so much more than money. If you let it do its work – it can reveal things about yourself that you may or may not want to accept.

But for Carrie, it’s all translated to empowerment: “It’s unveiled some weaknesses but now I understand and I am building, growing, getting better.”

So what’s next for Carrie? Deep breaths and a Fresh Start – literally and figuratively – and in a few weeks we’ll check in again. Stay tuned!