My Financial Life

We are diving into 2011 headfirst and it's been a busy start to the year already. First though I will share some observations from how we got through the holiday season.

Presents have never really been a big spending problem for us. We usually set a limit based on financial situation and have been really good at sticking to those limits. Same process for this year as we stuck to our gift budget pretty well (actually, probably better than ever), it just happened that all the other expenses seemed to add up more than usual.

We had one major expense that we had been putting off and it finally caught up to us right before the holidays, taking some of the wind out of our sails. We needed to replace the tires on our car, as all 4 were pretty worn out and with the winter weather and travel we needed to do we could no longer wait to replace them. We shopped around for a good price for a good set of tires and spent a few days researching and seeking advice on quality and finally finding a set we could afford and would also be safe.

$500 during a time of year where most of us are spending more money anyway can throw things for a loop. It didn't break us, but it didn't help either.

We also hosted an annual Christmas party for family and friends and even though party guests are always generous in bringing things to share we tacked on some extra expenses to our grocery bill (the white whale in our budget). The other major budget snafu was our restaurant or dining out spending. I've justified the reasons why we spent more in the last couple months of the year; it still doesn't mean that I'm happy with it. We had the best intentions to sticking with our weekly menu and grocery list and then life gets in the way. Running errands, sick kids, long work nights, classes, and really anything that took up more time than we anticipated and when that happens we too often opted for the easy route of grabbing some fast food or stopping at a restaurant.

These are the kinds of things that can get ignored when planning a budget, especially around the hectic holidays. Things happen and then your mind convinces you to balance out the hectic times with doing something easy to get caught up and often times it's your budget that if affected most. More discipline and better planning in the future will hopefully prevent this from happening in the future.

And yes, once again I think our priority will be containing our grocery and dining out budget, for a whole 12 months this year. We did pretty well, but had some hiccups every now and then. We will try and solve this by eliminating some of the reasons we went over in the first place. Personally, I was going out for fast food lunch more often. One reason was because I could only eat so many turkey sandwiches in a week and I would run to get a meal that was easy and different. This means I will try and make sure I have a lunch meal for the entire week and to mix it up a bit so I'm not tempted to go get something else.

Now that I confessed my financial hiccups that ended 2010, I might as well confess what may be my first questionable move of 2011. It happened so fast, but I guess that's how love works. It was Friday afternoon and I was looking forward to a weekend where we didn't have anywhere to go and more importantly nothing to purchase. That was until my wife came home and showed me a picture on her phone. Less than 24 hours later I had a cute little thing that was obsessed with licking my face and cuddling with me. We were the proud owners of an 8 week old Yellow Labrador. The puppy itself was free, but we all know nothing is free and a short trip to the pet store for supplies definitely proved that. Once again, we justified all the reasons why we could get the puppy and glossed over all the reasons why we couldn't. Time was also not on our side as we had to make a quick decision or the opportunity would pass.

There have been plenty of times in this section where you can learn from my examples and I'm sure this is one of those times. If I was writing an article I would tell you how it's important to do your research and comb through your budget to make sure you can afford everything that comes with a new pet. With that said, we love our new addition and are excited to share our experiences with her in 2011.

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