Budget check-in

October 26, 2009 at 10:51 am (monthly budget) ()

I’ve caught up on my budget for the last few months, after ignoring it recently (you’ll notice my recent hiatus). I did a significant check-up this weekend seeing where I was at, and realized I’ve been budgeting for about a year now! I have been tracking my expenses for longer, but November 2008 is when I started my first full month of budgeting.

I averaged out everything that I spend and came to a few realizations:

My budget is pretty accurate

My budgeted amounts for each category are pretty spot on. They may be a little high or low, but I’m able to, after a full year, see what needs to be raised or lowered a smidge. For example, I had $40/month budgeted for home expenses. I scrounge a lot of materials from work and from other places (I live in an industrial area) and I don’t need to buy a lot of kitchen things. I have always invested in that, since I cook so much, and I’m not young, so I have pretty much what I need. I’ve been spending more like $20, so I’m going to cut it to $25 for next year. It’s nice to have a year’s spending to use as a benchmark.

Not much to cut

There are 2 catagories that I can potentially reduce in order to spend more on debt-reduction – food and photography. I spend waaay too much on food and restaurants. A lot of that comes from being the primary shopper – I get food for me and often my boyfriend, but he rarely contributes to the small scale food shopping (that $15-$30 spending that happens 1-2 times per week). It’s been difficult to get reimbursed for this, and I’ve decided to just let it slide. It’s not worth the tension, since I don’t think the resolution is changeable. So I’m just going to let it be as it is. However, I have been making positive strides in using what I have in the fridge, even if I’m bored with it, and want something else. I’ve definitely been cutting back the restaurant spending a bit, but there’s always room for improvement.  It helps that my bf is under a money crunch right now, so he’s also much less willing to eat out. Yeah all around.

Photo expenses are also much higher than I’ve estimated them to be. I came to realize in the last 2-3 months that I need to scale back or fully commit to doing photography. I’m right in the middle right now. I think I am going to pull back and focus on debt and my health in this coming year, so I plan on spending much less on photo projects. I’m not going to push to have shows as much. I’m not going to take classes. I’m not going to get things framed. I’m going to rest on my laurels a bit, simply my life, lower my expenses, and reduce my stress and project load. That’s the plan.

Missing a category

I realized that I don’t have a category for health, medical, or grooming, so I’m going to make one. I get haircuts every 2-3 months. That’s $50, at least 4x per year, so $200. I have some procedures I’ll need done this coming year, so I need to plan on having larger out of pocket expenses. Dental work. And my IUD needs to be removed ($500, not sure if insurance covers), and then new birth control. I should probably build up about $900-$1000/year for this category I’m thinking. It may be enough some years, but not enough in others. So I will need to put in $100/month and save it for the inevitable expense.

I’ll be updating my mini-funds soon to take out the photo category and add a health fund.

All in all, here’s a real quick overview:

Monthly income average: $3300
Monthly budget average: $2800
Monthly debt payment average: $400 on fixed minimum payments, $500 on extra payments, $900/month extra.

Have fun

I last thing I realized. It’s unrealistic (for me personally) to expect myself to stick to the budget and not spend extra on occasion. I might buy a piece of art, or go on a trip, or throw a party (I know, I know, not necessary expenses, but a small splurge here and there on occasion is not always a bad thing). I need to have some extra spending money set aside. I’m not the most frugal of people, and I don’t think I can maintain that type of attitude for more than 2-3 months at a time. So I’ve decided I need to have about $100 or so every month to spend for fun. Going out with a girlfriend for happy hour, going to a spa, driving to Portland for the weekend, something like that.

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