About two weeks ago, when receiving my paycheck, I noticed that my take home pay was $0.
I immediately knew what happened. Open enrollment had ended in early March and while I have taken advantage of all the programs that my job offers upon being hired (I signed up that next day) the Open Enrollment was a reminder to see if I wanted to increase anything. Of course that is something can do at anytime, since I’m already enrolled in the benefit packages available, but the Open Enrollment was my trigger. I did choose to increase the amount I contributed to a few of them. One of them was my 401k. Some of you might see where this is going. The tool, for the 401k site is a bit odd. They had a tool that showed how much would be deducted if you contributed a certain amount of your wages towards retirement. Entering 100% showed that the amount contributed wouldn’t be a lot and so I went with that. Well, you guessed it… 100% went to my 401k. Just a note, not all companies will let you put 100% of your paycheck into your 401k and that’s why I thought I was fine since it appeared that I was only contributing 100% of what was allotted biweekly, since it still showed me receiving a paycheck. I rarely make those types of assumptions, and it’s the first financial assumption that I’ve made and it will be the last.
I know I’ve been writing about budgeting a lot recently. Honestly, budgeting is nothing new for myself since it’s something I’ve been actively practicing for several years and I observed my parents who were amazing at maintaining a budget. Naturally, I wanted to emulate them. I will admit as the years progressed, I’ve become even better and I do think 2017 is the year for me to do much more. Why? It’s mainly because of the temporary sacrifices that I’ve made. About six months ago, I picked up an additional job that has me outside of the home, not to reduce debt, but to hit some long term goals. Bringing in additional income will make that happen sooner rather than later.
I wrote this post to say if I was living paycheck to paycheck this would have been a serious problem, but since I’m not, I laughed about it and corrected the issue. I told my daughter, parents and one friend and now those few folks who read my posts. I made adjustments to my future budget. I had zero dollars coming in from that company, within YNAB (You Need A Budget) and kept moving forward. Granted, there was one thing that I’d planned to purchase, that was put on hold. A heavy duty stick blender that I had planned on purchasing for making soap. I COULD get it now, the money is there since I do follow and adhere to a budget, however, I’ll hold off making that purchase until May 5. Getting to the point where being able to not worry about a hold on a paycheck didn’t matter, isn’t happening overnight. It happens by planning/making sacrifices and saving well before a crisis happens. To do that, you have to stick to a budget. YOu know when it really hit home? When I lost my job in health care. I was out of work for a year, however, since I had been a wise steward even though I was out of work that long, I was fine because I had enough money saved to support me while I looked for work. Also, since the money was there, I had the choice to hold out and take the job I wanted. When I went back to work, that long term savings wasn’t completely depleted, but it did need to be rebuilt. Budgeting won’t work unless you’re disciplined.
Oh, the good news is, when I saw my check yesterday, I wasn’t seeing $0 take home pay. I input the money into the YNAB app and assigned all the money from my paycheck jobs. Some of the ‘jobs’ included adding additional money to an emergency fund, adding money to what happens if I’m out of work and setting aside money for monthly expenses a few months from now. Sure, I’ve been assigning money jobs for years, but the app makes it easier. At least for me. I still wish it was available offline. Since I’m not living paycheck to paycheck the money assigned are all budgeted towards future expenses/savings. Years ago, it wasn’t that way. There has to be a beginning, but in time that changed. I’ve always been the ant or turtle.
What does the Bible say?
Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8 Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
New American Standard Bible
Has YNAB made me a better budgeter? I’ve always done well with that, but I’d say it’s helped me reduce a bit more. It also made me seriously think about meal planning. I make most of the meals at home. In doing this, I’d definitely make meals in bulk. Which I do, but I’d increase it a lot. I just thought about this so that means my next step is researching meal planning software. I don’t need one with recipes since I come up with my own, but mainly something that I can easily input what I’ll be preparing. Bonus points for apps that let me try before I buy. I’m still in the trial period of You Need A Budget. I had one before using the app, but YNAB is something I will purchase once the trial ends next month.