In Which I Gripe About the Elusive “Normal Month”

So, where is this “normal month” that I keep thinking is around the corner?

“Well, last month was not normal because we moved.”

“Well, this month is not normal because we have all of these unexpected car issues to resolve.”

“Next month won’t be normal because we’ll be traveling to visit relatives for Thanksgiving and we’ll have extra food costs because of the holiday. Plus, starting to buy Christmas presents!”

“December won’t be normal because… yeah, Christmas.”

Seriously? A quarter of the year will go by and I will still think of it as “abnormal.” WHY do I do that? And that completely leaves out the fact that I always think of the summer months as abnormal because we tend to travel, and in the past H and I would both be at home with L all day (because… no work!).

I am starting to realize that there IS no normal month. There is no month that I can say, “Wow, nothing weird or unexpected came up. Cool!”

That means that our budget has to be the kind of budget than can absorb these blows. Prepare for the unexpected and all of that.

In December of 2013, we decided we would start a Sinking Fund, and that did totally help – we now save for expenses that we can predict WILL happen (just not always WHEN they will happen). Our sinking fund covers car repairs, gifts, L’s extra costs (school supplies, field trip costs, etc.), H’s business expenses, health care costs, car insurance, and we’ll soon be adding a clothing sinking fund as well.

Unfortunately, things still come up that are outside the categories, or – worse – the costs exceed the amount we have in the fund. We do have an emergency fund (there’s $500 in it right now – we’re working on beefing it up!), and I’m not above pulling from other categories, as long as they get paid back as soon as possible.

Honestly, this kind of problem doesn’t come up that much… mostly because I took the average of the previous year’s expenses in those categories and divided by 12 to come up with the amount to set aside each month.

However, when it does come up, it’s a whammy! And it’s usually car repairs.

Which is what it is this month.

It’s just so frustrating to feel like we just can’t get ahead with some of our goals. It’s great to be saving the way we’ve been able to these past months, but my main goal right now is to LIVE WITHIN OUR BUDGET.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

</rant>

Thanks for letting me blow off some steam, PF friends. 🙂 Anyone else have a way they deal with these “Abnormal Months”? I think it’s a mental thing – any advice?

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9 thoughts on “In Which I Gripe About the Elusive “Normal Month”

  1. I have no advice. All I can do is share in your misery. A lot of months I end up “finishing” my monthly budget a week or so early and just move onto the next month. Right now I’m already spending November money. Ugh! The end of the year always seems to be the worst.

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  2. This whole budgeting thing is new for me and that is one thing I’m afraid of…the unexpected… I have these hefty goals but they could possibly get sidelined in an instant. Thankfully I don’t need a car and I’m single but you just never know…especially with the holidays coming…I’m getting anxiety already. But we shall overcome 🙂

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    • It’s also hard to remember that we’re still making progress overall, even if these months seem to hit hard! I think having the Sinking Fund really helps, but it does require being able to set money aside for those expenses. For a long time it didn’t seem like we were in a position to do that, but we’ve juggled our budget enough to be able to make it a priority. Just having a plan puts people like you and me (and other personal finance enthusiasts) ahead of others, which I try to remind myself, too! 🙂

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  3. Yep, you’re totally right – there is ALWAYS something that comes up, without fail. I think 1 or 2 ‘normal’ months in a year would be the most you can realistically hope for!

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    • 1 or 2 months sounds about right, and that is frustrating to no end! At least blogging has helped keep me honest about our budget and our debt eradication situations – it’s tough sometimes, but it’s great to have a community to commiserate with (“with which to commiserate?” oh, grammar…).

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  4. You said it so well… there is no “normal” month! We almost made it through October without any “surprise” expenses… but then our rental house’s furnace went out! 😛 I try to focus on the positive and just think how much better off we are because WE ARE BUDGETING!!! We are telling our money where to go! 🙂 Debt is being paid off, sometimes not as quickly as we hoped… but more quickly than if we had no plan. Best wishes! 🙂

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    • Yes, I TRY to stay positive! You’re exactly right – reminding ourselves that we have a plan (which is better than many do!) and that we are working to reduce our debt is important! 🙂

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  5. I agree with NZ Muse… we get 1-2 months per year that are “normal”, but that’s it. Life’s just too unpredictable! Which makes it fun… right? Well, except for car repairs. Those aren’t fun at all. =(

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