What a roller coaster week with the numbers.
Derek and I talked last week about the budgeting and he put together several excel spreadsheets for me to take a look at. I didn't have them in front of me when we talked, but I wasn't thrilled to hear him tell me that the bottom line was that ends would not meet. There was over $500 in short fall. I promised I'd look through things — and I did.
At first, it appeared there was over $500 shortfall in the budget. So, of course, my mind starts spinning: "After all this, I finally get a job and I STILL can't make ends meet?" and "I'm making more than I ever have and it's still not enough?" Which emotionally translated into: "I'm not enough" and I got VERY discouraged.
Then I decided I had a choice to make: I could either continue on the destructive mental/emotional path I was on and continue feeling worse, or I could start considering creative solutions. There are two ways to close a financial gap: lower expenses or increase income. Looking through the already lean budget, I couldn't find any expenses to cut. So, I'd have to consider how I might increase income. My only thought was "work more." When???? Just the thought exhausted me further and I had to remind myself I was looking for "creative solutions" not necessarily "any solution."
I went to bed early that night, and just as I was drifting off my eyes popped open: the budget didn't account for the $450 per month that I'll be getting in reimbursements through the flex spending account for daycare. It's not technically income, but it does offset about three quarters of the daycare expenses per month.
In the morning I double-checked. Then I emailed Derek. Yep, we got to add that back in. There's still a shortfall of about $50 to $100, but that's a MUCH smaller gap than $500! $50 to $100 is saving a few dollars here and there, or increasing my freelancing by 1 or 2 hours per month. I can do both!
So in the course of about 48 hours, I went from looking forward to finally seeing a road map to having a place of my own, to believing I may not be able to get a place of my own AT ALL let alone any time soon, and back to seeing how it might be possible. I'll have to stretch — I'd prefer to overcompensate on that shortfall and go for $200 more per month at least, rather than just the $50 to $100. What I really want is a surplus. The upside is that I have a few months to see what I can do. My goal is to make ends meet without needing to use the financial aide funds — those are for school and emergencies only.
On a side note: for the first time in my life that I can recall, I've been enjoying balancing my check book. What a difference!