by Dear DDD
Tonight is expense night. Keeping my expenses in order is something I learned to do when going through the divorce process. I have become a pro at this. It took me a while to get to this stage but it was all worth the drama and effort. Doing my monthly expenses is quick and easy. When ever I get that dreaded phone call from my attorney, asking for my expenses because my EX wants to modify something on our support order, I am ready to go. Just a push of a button and off my expenses go. Believe me, it was not an easy process for me to get to this point..
I will never forget the call from my attorney asking me to do this for the first time. Thinking at that moment, sure, this will be easy! I need to look at my check register and credit card bills, add all the totals together and wala!! Here are my expenses! I was so proud handing over my expenses to my attorney. As I handed her my paperwork, I thought to my self, “Okay, I am organized, I know where all of the money goes.” HA! What an ass I was. My attorney looked at my organized total lump sum and said, “Where are your expenses?”
“I just handed them to you.”
She calmly sat me down and said, “Remember a few days ago we discussed breaking down all of your expenses into categories?”
I guess this was the space alien stage of my divorce, walking around with a smile on my face, empty eyes, head bobbing up and down pretending to hear what people were saying to me. This alien was in la la land, faking a smile and all conversations went in one ear and out the other.
Putting my expenses together did not = the sum of checks written + credit card statement sums. Putting my expenses together meant looking at every charge on my credit card statement, every check written, categorizing that expense under designated categories which were then broken into sub categories. I needed 3 categories: household, children and ME. Under each of these categories was 10-20 subcategories. For example: the category HOUSEHOLD. Under the heading Household are sub categories: mortgage, property taxes, electric, water, gas, gardener, pool, alarm, groceries, eating out, maintenance and so on.
I looked at her and said, “How the hell am I going to do this?? I don’t have a piece of paper that will enable me to subcategorize 3 years of expenses. I can’t do this!!!” She looked at me, sat me down, gave me a water bottle and calmed me down.
“Here is what you are going to do – do yourself a huge favor, go to staples, purchase Quick Books. Set it up, input all of these categories exactly how you see it listed here on this paper, and start inputting the numbers. Let’s meet in a few days to discuss.”
I did exactly what she said, in between ranting and crying episodes, occasional drinking and friends taking shifts to keep me calm and pushing me to the finish line. I inputted 3 long miserable years of numbers upon numbers exactly the way my attorney advised.
Tonight I will input my monthly expenses in less than an hour. Setting up the quickbooks program was the best thing I ever did. Seeing where my money is being spent helps me to keep within my budget, guides me to where I have to make cuts on spending and most importantly keeps my spending organized.
So… you say you need monthly expenses? Bring it on!