Yesterday morning, whilst out walking the dog, I got to thinking about my finances and how I've been managing them (or not) this year. Dog walks are great as contemplative time to ponder on life's big issues and questions. As I walk the dog in a morning, I find it sets me up for the day, as I can use the time to mentally plan what I'm going to do for the rest of the day, even though it doesn't always happen in reality.
Anyway, the main focus of yesterday's thoughts was my finances. I've been a bit of a spender for the first six months of this year and now that the mid point of this year has been and gone, I am inevitably starting to think about the big C or Christmas and how once the summer holidays are over the lead in will begin.
It begins a little earlier for me than for many people, as I like to spread the cost and also because I have to start thinking about preparing stock for my small business, as Christmas is the busiest time for me. I have got off to a bit of a head start this year and have already been preparing stock for a couple of weeks now in an attempt to hit the ground running so to speak.
Another reason I do this is that I find the items I need to purchase for resale, are usually in stock, as many other people haven't started thinking about it and sellers don't seem to run out of things quite yet. I've been quite enjoying getting stuck in again and an added bonus is that I am also preparing to sell off leftover stock I've been keeping since last Christmas and thus clearing a bit more free space.
I have finally come to understand just how the overdraft charge was applied to my business account. I had updated the details of my new business credit card with PayPal, but had not gone through the process of confirming it, and as such it was not valid to use on my eBay account until I did, hence why a couple of purchases were taken straight out of my business current account. I have since gone through the correct procedures to confirm and reinstate my new card and my account is back up and running as normal again, which is a relief.
Being such a tiny business, I use the credit card for purchasing stock and materials on eBay and then pay the balance off later using my business current account, as sales materialise and the funds become available. The amounts are pretty small, so hardly any interest accrues and it works out to be a vital and inexpensive line of business credit before Christmas orders actually start coming in.
On a more personal level, my finances haven't panned out as I hoped they would in the plans I made at the beginning of the year. Partly this was due to the fact that I got so enthusiastic about creating a new capsule wardrobe, that I decided to complete it in the first few months of the year alone, instead of gradually throughout the year. It has now been complete for a few months, but I have subsequently changed our grocery and toiletry shopping habits completely and this has been expensive.
I don't quite know how expensive, as I haven't been keeping records for over a year now, for the first time in 10 years or more. What I did decide this month, however, was that I was going to start noting everything I spend on food and household/toiletry items this month, so that I can gauge exactly what my new outgoings on essentials actually are, now that I try to buy more natural and organic food and other products. At least once I've ascertained this, I can start to think about budgeting for Christmas gift buying and other expenses that will occur in the second part of this year.
I can definitely already see that I am spending a lot more money on groceries than I used to, which doesn't concern me of itself, as we are eating better and more healthy foods. I think I just need to regroup and start to consciously budget again, as some months I have spent way too much money on inessentials and left myself short, because I haven't really got a grip on things at the moment. I guess it is all part of the process of changing the way we consume, but I will be a lot happier when things stabilise a little more and I can predict what money is in the budget to spend on things other than groceries.
I also started thinking today about how all of my good intentions of creating savings this year seem to have got pushed aside, on account of my new enthusiasms. I definitely need to get a bit more focused in this regard and start actually putting some money aside at some point. I can see that point being next year now, but taking a year out, in which I haven't got into any debt, maybe isn't such a bad thing. I'll call it a holiday from frugality and it might just give me the head space and freedom I need to put me in the right frame of mind for some serious saving next year.
It has taken six months to get the urge to spend money and consume out of my system. I think I was much more addicted to consumption than I realised and such habits can be hard to break fully. Even now I do get the odd urge to surf my favourite websites for bargains, and I often put items in my basket and then think better of it, rather than go through the checkout and actually purchase them. I finally seem to be getting to a place where the urge to shop either in person or on line is actually receding quite considerably, which is an achievement for me in itself. I think I'm also getting to a place where I'm happy with what I actually already have and don't feel the need to be constantly adding to my possessions. Maybe there is hope for me yet and this is going to be a transitional year. I do hope so.