Budget Confessions: Part 2

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It’s good to write down your confessions (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

It’s time for another episode of Budget Confessions, the show where I publicly acknowledge that I haven’t even been taking my own advice and display what a mess it creates. In my first budget confessions post, I talked about how we’d been blowing the food budget (like, friggin’ doubling it!), how our backyard budget was blowing up like a balloon, and how I had removed my sinking funds this year because we don’t make enough money to pay our bills. I posted an action item for each confession to get myself back on track so I stopped blowing the budget. Let’s see how I did:

Action Items

Food: Welp, we signed up for eMeals (<- affiliate link) to help get us on track. We’ve been on it for about 4 months now, and looking at the budget, it seems to be helping. BUT (of course there’s a but), now that we have our grocery budget in line, we’ve started to blow money eating out too much. DOH! So, we’ve cut our grocery bill way down, but transferred the extra few hundred dollars to the local (and not-so-local) food scenes. We’ve done a bit of traveling as of late, so that does account for some of the increase for sure.

Backyard Project: We have finished purchasing materials for the project, and it seems that we’ve done pretty darn well! After the neighbors paid us their halves of the fence (about $600), we returned all the extra materials and got another $1,000 back! This put us under our goal of spending $4,000 by a decent amount, though I haven’t come up with exact totals yet! WOOHOO! We are holding off on major landscaping until next year, but we will definitely set a budget before spending a dime this time.

Savings Buckets: ….what? Oh, savings buckets…..ummmmm…..see below.


Confession: I did not implement savings buckets back in July when I said I would.

Action: Michelle and I sat down on Monday to go over our budget, because everything just felt out of whack. Part of it is that we are sharing a cell phone bill with other parts of our family, and I just had not done the calculations to figure out how much people owe us. It was a bit complicated but we figured that out. But the most unnerving thing was not having our savings buckets in place. We removed them because we didn’t have any room in the monthly budget for them, but we realized we were spending the money anyway without a set limit, which caused us to overspend. Here are the categories we re-implemented:

  • Christmas
  • Our Bdays/Vday/Anniversary
  • Beauty (quarterly hair and beauty budget for Michelle)
  • Clothing for the little guy (he grows so fast!)

We felt much, much better after putting these on paper, knowing we would spending the money anyway. Sure, it makes our budget look bad as for as monthly expenses go, but we feel better knowing these categories are accounted for and there’s a set limit to them

Confession: We’re going on vacation, even though I don’t even make enough money to cover the bills.

Action: Well, we’re not cancelling it, but we are being VERY frugal about it. We might not have done this vacation, but it’s for a family wedding, so we just had to figure out how to do it EXTREMELY cheap. But then we tacked on a 4 day cruise to the end of it! Lol. So, here’s the breakdown:

Flight: FREE (Rewards miles and family standby flight, WOOHOO!!)

Hotel for first 2 days: $25 a night = $50

Cruise: $600, includes all meals and drinks (non-alcoholic)

Disneyworld: $180

Food for 2 days and Disneyworld: $100

Total: $930

Ok, so it may not be cheap by everyone’s standards, but flying across the country, staying a few days for a wedding, Disneyworld for a day and then hopping a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas…all for under $1,000, I think that’s a steal! I’ll be sure to update how everything goes.

And just to be clear, we pretty much break even at the end of the year as far as income/bills go, and we have 6 months’ savings in our ING account. Most of it is an Emergency Fund, and we have set aside $1,000 this year for vacation.

Now That Felt Good

Confession feels great, and what’s even better is doing something about it. I honestly think that confession without action is pretty worthless. Sure, it feels good at the time, but without an action plan, you will keep doing the same old thing that digs you deeper into the hole you’ve gotten yourself in to. This is how budgets work. You set yourself goals and make a plan to achieve them. This may require a change in spending habits that take a while to implement, but talking about the failures and making an action plan to get back on track is the best way to deal with blowing the budget.

Comments: Ok, time to get real. What are you budget confessions as of late? What are some spending habits that you wish you could change to stop blowing money? Or, for those of you who don’t’ have a budget and don’t really care, do you have any financial goals you are working toward? Does not having a budget help you achieve those goals? Just wondering….?

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites. 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

34 thoughts on “Budget Confessions: Part 2”

  1. Well since Michelle posted that amazing deal for emeals last week, my wife and I signed up (using your link so I hope it went through for you!). So far we are digging it! Hopefully this will cut down on our food budget. We were spending waaay to much since we would eat out waaay to much. Of course having a 3 month old makes eating out a little more challenging (I have heard it gets even more challenging when they get a little older) so this looks like a good solution. Other than that we are doing alright. Had to adjust for the insane cost of daycare, but that just meant we won’t be saving quite as much into our taxable account.

    Enjoy your vacation! I think everyone needs one to stay sane!

    • Thank you for buying through our link, we really do appreciate the love 🙂 I do hope that you benefit from it as much as we have.

      We ate outthe other day with our 8-month-old and it was awesome. Just get them a bunch of straws to break into pieces and throw on the floor. Hours of fun 🙂

    • I agree! That’s why we have tons of choices when using emeals. We chose to use the 3-6 person plan, which means we pick 3 or 4 options and eat leftovers the next day. We have 7 choices to choose from, so that helps break out of the mundane. We also eat out for a meal about once a week, but it’s when we eat out more than that that our food budget gets inflated.

  2. Don’t forget to bring some cash to tip your room staff and waiter while on the cruise! We didn’t realize what was typically tipped and that will add up fairly quickly. I think there is an option to automatically include it on your bill but we opted out of that and just left cash on the last day.

    Overall, I think you are getting a steal though. $1000 for all of that is simply impressive. Even if you can’t pay your bills. 😉

  3. Um budget confession: I forgot about another outstanding student loan I had. Or I thought it had been taken care of. Even though I have a sheet with all of my debt marked down, I still forgot about it. But it’s taken care of now.

    And confessions are fun! I love them even more when I’m not the only one doing it!

  4. I think the vacation is a good deal, I’d probably have to do that myself at that cost. My budget issue is the same it as every year at this time…cable. I love all things college football and usually have to upgrade to a specific package so I can see all of my teams games. If I don’t do that it’s usually going to a sports bar to catch the game. It usually is fine within our budget, I just hate to spend the extra money as we’re pretty minimalistic on our cable plan.

  5. We signed up for the emeals deal too b/c our grocery spending has been out of control. We had two family emergencies this summer and we kind of blew our budget attending to them (although that is why we have a cushion in the first place!). We are getting back on track now though…

  6. Jake. Wow your whole life is played out for to see and learn from your mistakes. Thx. If we learn anything its that budgets are a hard thing to keep on track. I recently hired an interior designer to help us choose colors and wood flooring in our home. She also did some sketches of a couple of built-ins and of course I did not budget the over $500 bucks for her service. She picked great colors and I have a painter there now doing the work so it should be nice. My theory is if I want something and don’t have enough cash I could either save or budget for it, but I prefer to go out and make more money! It’s my way I like making money but money is not what drives me. Actually, I enjoy working hard and in turn I make money. I always said if I work hard the money will take care of itself. I believe this to hold true even with the economy we have had over the past few years. If I just put it all out everyday work hard everyday and know I did everything I could that day, I will be happy and the money will come. But then I will need a budget to manage that money huh! Lol. Uncle Joe.

    • I like to save for items and have the cash ready before purchase. And it’s true, hard work does pay off, but so does smart work. I know you’ve done both, so it’s great to hear things are working out, even in the bad economy.

      And yes, you should filter ALL your money through your budget to make sure no dollars go astray 🙂

  7. Hi. My name is Michelle. And I just went to fincon! I had so much fun and feel like it was totally worth it, but $800 is going to be hard to make back with blogging income! You did great to only spend 9XX on all that! Do you know how much fincon was? Well, my original estimate was $800…I haven’t posted my actual yet. Stay tuned…dun dun dun!

    • LoL. I knew you’d ask! It’s always a bummer to see where you are overspending, but only for like 2 seconds. So no depression 🙂 I always see it as an opportunity to use my money more wisely.

      And yes, we’re hoping for a wonderfully frugal trip. I’ll report back for sure.

  8. I was going to do the major landscaping this year but with training for work and the landscape company in the area that we really wanted materials from struggled to get back to us. Amazes me how a company can just forget about a client who WANTS to spend money and not chump change either. Ah well. Great post mate! Mr.CBB

  9. I still take vacations when I probably shouldn’t. This use to look more extravagant, as I live like a millionaire on vacation… Now a days with kids, I’ve toned this down and try to be budget conscious as well as save for it also (or maximize my rewards). This one is a tough area when you love to travel, a must have is a travel fund to make it easier. (thankfully I do this now)

    • It’s all about priorities! If you love to travel, cut out the expenses that you don’t care about and throw that money at your vacation budget! I’m still on the fence, though, for people who are in major debt. I, myself, have student loans, but am not going to miss a wedding because I owe Sallie Mae a few dollars. But if I had $10,000 in credit card debt, I think I would feel differently…


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