I was getting by on way too little sleep this summer, my anxiety levels were through the roof, I was failing dramatically at everything I attempted, and I honestly just quit caring about the future. It wasn't pretty, and I'm still having to work hard to avoid slipping back into those sorts of thought patterns. Needless to say, carefully tracking my spending hasn't been foremost on my mind.
I ran the numbers today, and it wasn't pretty. I'd hoped to keep the costs of this transition to $2,000 or less, covering the entire summer using the fellowship money. However, I never really developed a concrete plan for doing so, and that's reflected in how badly I'm overshooting my tentative spending plan. It looks like once I pay a deposit and first month's rent, pay my credit card bill in full, and pay other random fees and deposits that'll doubtless crop up along the way, I'll be about $300 over.
Admittedly, some of that spending was predictable and unavoidable. I had to pay $900 for graduate tuition in order to get my provisional license. Assuming our meeting with the landlord tomorrow morning goes well, I'll be spending $650 for a month's rent and the deposit. There was no way to get from Houston to the Delta without spending money for gasoline, but that expense will be reduced if I let U. reimburse me for half the cost, as he keeps insisting I must. Keeping the temporary health insurance policy and paying for prescription medication without coverage isn't great fun, but I still see it as essential.
Then there were the other things, some large, some small, many necessary, some not, most forgotten until I checked my credit card statement. Looking back, if I'd done this right, with proper planning and sanity, it would have been extremely tight but I would have at least gotten closer to achieving my goal. I screwed up. Now what?
I know I need to get back to tracking my spending now, budgeting as soon as I have an idea of what bills will be, and saving as soon as I get my first paycheck. If I effectively execute those three steps, all should be fine, and this will be nothing more than an insignificant blip. That bothers me.
Shouldn't there be some consequence? It's difficult for me to avoid devising punishments for myself, ways to reinforce the message that this isn't something I may do again, but I know that such impulses stem more from the dark and destructive recesses of my soul than from any rational system for keeping myself on track.
So if I survive next week back in Houston, I'm going to allow myself to buy the gas necessary to drive home and see my family for a few days aftwerward. When the time comes to stock my pantry, I'm going to buy groceries that will enable me to make varied and enjoyable meals rather than trying to calculate the cheapest possible way to meet my dietary requirements. I'm going to try to keep living my life despite my shortcomings.