Get The Picture? By Sherry Hopkins

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 15, 2010

Sherry Hopkins

2009 budget close, inspires confidence for another try

As I promised I will tell you how our budget did and didn’t work this past year. I can hardly believe a year has passed. My Mama always said the older you got, the faster time went. When I was young time went along at a relatively slow pace. Now that I have crossed over to this unfamiliar, rapidly moving last half or quarter of my life, I find it moves faster than I can count. I would have preferred Mama not be right about this.

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Last January Dear Don and I set out to live within or below our means and even save a bit of money. In other words we were going to try and live like we should have been living for most of our adult lives.

To begin with I wrote down every penny we spent and, using the Dave Ramsey method of accounting, I gave every dollar, (quarter, dime and penny) a name. Each week when Don was paid the money was appropriated to its designated spot.

If you have tried this method of budgeting you already know that things look really good on paper. Living in reality is the true test of one’s commitment.

We continuously went over our budget on groceries and car fuel no matter how many times I would adjust the totals. I didn’t seem to be able to get a handle on these two items no matter how many coupons I used or specials I shopped or weekends we stayed home not making wasteful trips to town.

So this time around I will borrow from areas where we did better than expected and see what happens. I wasn’t pleased when I budgeted $400 a month for groceries for two people and we couldn’t live on that. Please. And I cook every day but Sunday. I didn’t buy expensive cuts of meat and made many one dish meals that were satisfying and enjoyable. Although Dear Don is a continuous eater, thank goodness he is not a picky one. Whatever I cook he eats, and eats and eats. Kinda like a goldfish; they just eat until they explode. Wow that’s not a good mental picture. Sorry!

Back to the budget. I budgeted $200 each month for our electric bill knowing that in the winter it would be far less and in the summer expecting it to even out with higher bills. But we had a mild winter and summer and the bill never even ventured toward the mark, for which I was thankful.

We needed every extra dime to pay for the six leaks we had last year. Two of the leaks were underground which required plumbers; one was the hot water heater, which also required a plumber and then the guest bathroom sprang a leak under the sink. Good ol’ Don was able to fix that one up with items on hand (no, not duct tape) and then the roof sprang a leak and that required a professional as well.

Our pool filter motor went out on the last day of pool season. We had to replace the windshield on one of the vehicles and put a battery in the other.

And although our property taxes went up our vehicle insurance went down. The deductible on Don’s 90-day prescription plan went down from $120 a quarter to $60 a quarter.

We were able to add to our savings account but our checking account was down a bit because we paid for big-ticket items like taxes and insurance out of it instead of the savings account like we had planned.

I panicked and had anxiety attacks complete with hand wrenching and teeth gnashing every time something happened that we didn’t prepare for. But Dear Don always reassured me that everything was going to be okay and it was.

Because of his faith and the fact that we didn’t go under, my faith will be stronger for the coming year. I am learning to relax a bit and I’m sure he appreciates that gesture on my part. Now if I could just get him to stop thinking about eating all the time maybe I can get that grocery budget in line. You get the picture.

(Contact Sherry at