My spending has changed a bit since 2012, so I’ve been overdue for an overhaul. After the last 11 months’ medical crisis of dealing with a cancer diagnosis and 9-month treatment plan, I’ve had to reevaluate my spending in quite a few areas. The good news is that as of August, I have just caught up on my medical payments and have finally met my yearly deductible. Combined with my treatment having also finally ended, my out of control medical costs have now reduced significantly and I can get back to a more “normal” budget of paying off debt rather than doctors. I also had my income radically change this past spring. It went from hourly to salaried, but based on my 2012 income (including a massive amount of overtime). My new salary is consistent, and in effect, I received a huge raise. I now have $3800/month to work with. It’s nice to have more money and extra nice that the amount is consistent from pay period to pay period.
I’m still using what I call a “split” style budget and it continues to work great. I get paid twice monthly, on the 5th and 20th. I start each month on the day of my first paycheck rather than the actual 1st of the month. I split all expenses over the course of the month so that I’m not in the red or black at any one time, but consistent throughout. I did make an adjustment – because I don’t get paid until the 5th or 6th, and my rent is due on the 1st (technically, though it is never cashed until the 9th – 11th!), I pay it the paycheck prior so that I’m never late. Luckily, if I forget, my landlord is super flexible and nice about it, but I still want to be proper and pay on time. And while my budget indicates rent paid at the end of the month, it doesn’t get cashed until the following month’s budget. There’s a part of me that hates seeing it uncashed – I like things to be neat and orderly. Having spent money that doesn’t show up in my checking account is quite annoying. However, I do get more interest on it for 2 weeks, so I guess it works in my favor.
I’ve changed my eating habits quite a bit from before I was diagnosed. I’m now eating as close to 100% organic as possible (super expensive!), and drink significantly less alcohol (3 or more drinks per week is a huge risk factor in increasing cancer risk). I also cancelled my gym membership since I’ve been unable to use it, so have nixed both the alcohol and gym categories from my budget. I have been doing very little socializing the last year, and my weekly long-distance driving trips to go hiking have virtually disappeared, so I’ve reduced my gas spending and my restaurant spending is on track for the first time since I started budgeting (previously, it was often over, and by a significant amount). I also added an additional fund for health costs – which are primarily for self-care and things not covered by medical insurance (such as supplements that are medically necessary to help prevent cancer from returning and improve my health, and acupuncture/massage if no longer covered by insurance). Those things are also quite expensive but important to my quality of life.
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The total budget equals $3512 but I typically have $3800 to work with. Until July I have had excessively high medical costs (paying off $2500 plus copays, drug costs, supplements, and acupuncture), so this may need to be adjusted in a month or two. I also joined a CSA, which has required payments over 4 months; my food income is thus much higher from June – September, but will be lower afterwards as I continue to get my box of organic veggies through December (the last 3 months are essentially “free”).
I am having any extra money from my first paycheck stick around through the end of the month, just in case I have some crazy big end-of-month payment out of the blue, but I do try to put extra towards debt if there’s a large amount by the 20th of each month. While my minimum debt payment is $650 (not including my car loan payment), I do expect to increase that to $700 or more most months.