Welcome back; it’s been a while. On one hand, I have so many ideas that have been popping into my head over the past few weeks and on the other hand, I don’t know what to say. The birth of my son has been such a life changing experience that words do not begin to describe the vast amount of life experience I have gained, nor sleep that I have lost, in the past month.
And while so much life was happening all at once, my money felt like it was spiraling out of control. Every day I was running to get bottles, equipment, medicine and so many other things, all while trying to help take care of my wife and child who were staying at my in-laws, that I could not keep up with my expenses. Additionally since the entire area of raising a baby is fairly new I had no idea where, if at all, I could cut costs. Finally, the time for a new monthly budget came and my wife and I could find no time to work on the budget together.
But after a few days, I came to a few realizations that calmed me down and helped bring my financial life into control. On a bus ride (yes, I still don’t have a car) I was set down a couple of rules in my head to help me cope with the first few weeks of a new baby:
1 – I should not worry too much about money. I estimated how much I was spending and came to a realistic figure. As it turned out, this figure could easily fit into my budget and so I should record it in my expenses. My feeling is that it is better to be imprecisely right than precisely wrong and as long as I estimate conservatively and try to record my finances even once a week, everything will turn out okay.
2 – My wife is my ultimate authority regarding what to buy and where to cut costs. She is more knowledgeable than I am in this area (she helped raise her nephews and nieces) and I need to rely on her to decide what to get. She knows to ask others for advice when she is unsure, and I trust her to decide who and what to follow. I may ask my wife about cutting costs (ie trying a different brand), but I trust her to have ultimate veto power.
3 – In my wife’s absence, I will do all the budgeting and expense tracking myself, knowing that when we move back home in a few weeks, we will look at how much money we have been spending and call an emergency meeting to fix the budget I built. It is more important that we start with something and then change it later than to just ignore our finances.
Now that my wife and I are home again, we have begun getting a grip on our finances. We have resumed planning a monthly budget, where, for the next few months, we will keep an additional line in our budget for all the random things we will expect for the new baby.
In short, when life deals you too much at once to follow your finances: (1) estimate conservatively, (2) trust your partner and those who are more knowledgeable than yourself, (3) if necessary take temporary measures to ensure you have some sort of accountability, and (4) cease all temporary measures when the need disappears.
Have you had something happen that threw your finances for a whirl? How did you deal with it?