Friday, June 11, 2010
Combing carefully through my checkbook yesterday proved to be very educational.
For some time now, I've been under the impression that my money was holding out just fine. I transferred a chunk into my checking account in February, and since then I haven't touched my savings. I kept thinking, "How can I be living on this not-so-large chunk of money all these months?" Of course, I've been getting unemployment, but that's a pittance.
I must have been in denial. Seriously. If I'd given it even a moment of critical thought I would have seen that I couldn't possibly have survived on that money all this time.
Combing through the checkbook, now that my checking account has more or less run dry, reminded me of two things. One, I got a pretty large tax refund, which I never transferred out of my checking account -- so that money has also been spent. Two, I launched my checking account with a different transfer last December. That money has also been spent.
So in reality, I've spent more than I imagined. About three times more.
Now, this is not cause for crisis. I have plenty of savings still. I have not touched my severance payment from my employer or most of the savings I'd accumulated up to last fall. And some of my expenditures were for essentials -- like my share of my health insurance through September.
But I do need to be more careful with my money. When I first lost my job I went through an initial period of hyper-austerity, but gradually that subsided and my spending habits returned more or less to normal. Because I live in New Jersey now, things are much cheaper, but I haven't been particularly careful about cutting back on luxuries like restaurant meals or bottles of wine.
I don't want to stop going out -- I think we need that opportunity, and it wouldn't be fair to Dave. But I should be more aware. And goodness knows, I wish I could sell my apartment. If I didn't have that hanging over my head my finances would be much closer to breaking even.
(Photo: We bought a philodendron for the living room a couple of months ago, and it throws the most interesting shadows on the walls!)