Budget check in

January 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm (budget)

So I’ve made it halfway through month 1 of my austerity budget. Let’s see how I’m progressing…

I’ve budgetted pretty narowly this month, and really minimized all expenses except for food. I’m having difficulty sticking to $75/week, which I had wondered about. I already know I will have to increase my food budget some next month. Also, after checking two or three times, and calculating what else I’ll be spending money on, I realized I had plenty of money to pay a fat amount towards debt, so I paid $750 immediately after depositing my paycheck. I think the $750 I had calculated that I needed to pay to make my lofty $10,000 paid in 2011  is actually achievable! I think I may even be able to put a little extra towards debt by the end of the month.

Looking forward, I expect I have about $680 – $850 left in expenses for the month. I have $675 left in my checking account. I have about $450 so or incoming from J for his portion of rent. I should be able to fund some towards my emergency fund, and still put a little extra towards debt!

I’m even estimating that I may be able to pay an additional $150-$250  towards debt, making my total debt payments $1,000 (over and after the minimum payments). Wow. This is fabulous and definitely a testament to my holding the line and being conservative with spending. But it also makes me wonder how frivolous I must have been being in the last 6 months to never be able to pay more than $600/month previously…

I’ve also noted that I’ve already spent $120 on gas, and there’s 12 more days to go. I know I’ll be getting at least 1 more tank of gas $40-$45. I think I’m going to have to up my gas spending. It’s unfortunate to have such bad mileage for my truck, since I use it mostly for commuting. I’m definitely going to look at a better mileage vehicle in a few years, when I look for a new vehicle.

I’m doing amazingly well with restaurant spending. I think not going to my cafe on Thursdays for dinner before I work in the photo lab where I volunteer has helped a lot ($20/week = $80/month!). Instead I’ve been bringing extra food, either a sandwich, or leftover soup/stew. So far so good, plus it’s much more in line with my healthier eating goals.

I’ve been struggling alot with clothes spending. It’s not that I’m a clothes horse, to the contrary! Instead, I have recently started up 2 new activities, snoeshoeing and significant exercising (5x/week at least), and while I have most of the clothes I need, I’ve had to buy more for both. It’s been tough budgetting a minimal amount and knowing I already have next month’s budget spent/planned. And I’m going to have to get a new pair of running shoes in April, $100, that’s 2 month’s budget. Ugh. Well, any extra will come out of my $250 discretionary spending, and unfortunately, if I use it, that’s less to put into my emergency fund. (I mentioned in a previous post that I am going to build it back up from zero with anything unspent in this category, and only from this category).

I’ve been spending very little on alcohol, but what I do have budgetted, is going faster than it should since J is drinking some, making it not last a month, which it is supposed to! Argh, but then, when I feel the urge to have a tiny glass of red wine, he is very kind to offer all the time (after I don’t contribute $ and after stating that I wasn’t going to drink regularly). So I guess I can’t complain!

I also realize that I should probably make a health fund for my gym membership ($40/month). Plus I need to be doing vitamins, and good quality ones are super expensive. I should do $60/month and add that.

So right now, I expect the following changes to occur for next month:
Food + Restaurant $450 (instead of $300/food + $100/restaurant)
Health: $60/month (to be added)
Alcohol: $35/month (what I get is actually more than $30, so I’ll increase it $5/month)
Gas: $175 (up from $150, just in case)

I also know I need to start saving up some money for summer trips. While I am committed to not going on vacations, I know I may do some big road trips for hiking/photography/etc. Gas will be a big expense, and some motel spending. I think I may start this fund soon, but I am going to wait until I have fully paid off my BECU Visa (next month!!!) and start on my final debt, the big $27,700 SBA loan. I think I’ll do $50/month on this when I do start it, maybe in March?

So, I am doing pretty well, but there’s some tweaking I need to do to bring some things up to realistic amounts (when I can’t really control the spending, like gas, driving to work and the grocery store). I do really like having a few funds that I don’t regularly use combined into one big lump category: entertainment, photo/art, home, health, emergency fund, and the discretionary/extra category. I’ve been putting wierd small spending into this category, like if i have to pay for parking.  So overall, I’m pleased with my planning and how austere I’ve been. Budgetting is often a work in progress.

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