Guest blogger Michelle Kemper Brownlow: I spend too much money, and I suck at math. This is not good for my checkbook. I am married to a tightwad who checks every line of every bill, yet I probably spend $25 on late fees every month. I call 411 with my cell and cause overages that hubby wasn't expecting, and I eat out way too much. The trouble this has gotten me into makes for a very long list, including eleven overdraft fees.
I'm not sure what my problem is. Every two weeks, I get $400 direct-deposited into my checking account. This is to cover groceries, book orders, school pictures, etc. for those two weeks. I blame my money troubles on the fact that because we only have one checkbook, I have to transfer money from one account to another when I need to pay for something that isn't budgeted to come out of the grocery account.
Not too long ago, I logged on to transfer money, but the bank's server was down so I couldn't. Two more days went by before I realized I still hadn't moved the money. When I went online, trying to be responsible, I found that I had been charged with eleven "insufficient funds" fees, at $35 a pop! I crawled into the bank and pled my case: "Your servers were down, and I was penalized." They refunded half of those fees, but my husband was still pissed. Funneling spending from various accounts through one account somehow screws me up every time.
I also have a habit of using the "for emergency only" credit card to keep from having to transfer money. In my mind, it's only a couple times a month that I swipe that card. But when the bill comes, I gag at the balance and vomit when I realize they are ALL my charges and my husband will see them when he reaches for the mail.
Each month, I promise I will balance my checkbook with EACH receipt I am handed before I leave the parking lot of that establishment. I swear I will only use the "emergency" credit card for gas. And I take an oath to not hit the drive-thru with the kids more than once or twice. I fail miserably every time.
This month, my goal is to get to the mailbox before my husband and use my freelance checks to pay off everything I transferred, everything I bounced and everything I charged. This will, of course, leave me with the need to transfer more money from our joint account to cover the writing conference I usually pay for with my freelance income.
Moms, what are your best budgeting tips?