Budget overhaul and spending rein-in

March 16, 2012 at 9:19 am (monthly budget, overspending, things I bought)

March is here and half over. I’ve been thinking a lot about my finances and money and spending in the last few weeks. I’m also ready to recover from my move and all the extraneous spending that I’ve been involved in. I’ve been playing with my personal debt payoff calculator that I built in excel. I tweak it and update it as I send in payments to my car loan and my SBA loan, and it’s really keeping me focused on a semi-daily basis if I’m on track (news: I’ve been slipping, so need to readjust!). I’m also trying to rein in my enthusiasm about spending. Moving is over. No more excuses to eat out so much or have preprepared foods (ie, more expensive, less nutritious). I also have to get myself into a new regular routine, both financially, but also physical and social. In a way, moving was like a blank check – I gave myself an allowance to go out and spend money on food more than I should have. I used the excuse of going out with all my friends regularly (and separately, ie, more often and thus more expensive!) for a bite to eat and to get together. On one hand, it was great, I feel like I am establishing my friendships with people I haven’t had in my life before in this way (2 new friendships developing since the ex left), but on the other, I am not doing it decisively and in line with my budget. So I’ve been overspending.

I also decided to buy myself this absolutely *beautiful* turquoise necklace to the tune of $270. I haven’t bought a piece of jewelry for myself for over 3 years, and the last one was $22! In a way it is symbolic of this time in my life, and I have been wanting to have something new to wear. But again, I have been spending a lot and need to chill out on the spendthrift front!

Because I’ve been spending *a lot* on food and eating out, I decided to really knuckle down this week and use the food I have in my fridge, even if I don’t want it when I’m driving home past the really high-priced/excellent quality supermarket that is close to my place. I also need to decide NOT to eat out unless it’s the weekend. I need to portion my eating out to be once per weekend to keep me in check. Having that as a benchmark/rule should really help me avoid the restaurant overspending and allow it to happen socially as it should be (and not just me being lazy and not wanting to cook).

This coming paycheck next week (I get paid on the 5th and 20th) I have already allocated fully. I realized that I have to readjust how I pay my bills. My old landlord was ok if I gave her rent money after I got paid on the 5th. Then I started paying her online through pop money. That would take up to 4-5 days to clear (if you choose the free/longer payment method). That worked out ok, I was consistent from month to month and she was fine with it on the 9th/10th/or 11th. However my new landlord wants payment by the 1st. Totally reasonable, but I don’t get paid until the 5th.

How to get payment in 5 days earlier? I considered doing a temporary 5 day transfer out of one of my savings funds to tide my checking account over until then, then repay back what I borrowed when my paycheck clears. But then I realized that there was a better option. Instead, I’m going to have to pay sooner, like the previous paycheck. So this coming paycheck (2nd half of March) is now earmarked to pay my April 1st rent. This will cause a little adjustment to my debt payments. I actually calculated what bills were due on which half of the month. I split my regular payments (food, restaurant and gas spending) to be half and half, and realized that it makes the most sense to pay equal payments towards debt on both paychecks. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Paycheck 1:
$225 for food and restaurant spending
$60-$80 in gas
$50 (guestimated as i haven’t gotten a bill yet) for electric
$38.32 for gym membership
$253.11 for car payment
$200 for my car maintenance mini-fund
$33 for my xmas/gift mini-fund
$100 for random spending (housewares, subscriptions, photography spending, extra stuff I want to buy, clothes, etc)
$100 for my vacation mini-fund
$350 towards debt
$18 towards hulu/netflix
Total: $1430

Paycheck 2:
$225 for food/restaurant (same as pc1)
$80 for gas (same as pc1)
$745 for rent (including the $50 storage unit)
$40 for internet
$63 for car insurance
$100 for my SBA autopay to cover monthly payment due
$100 towards stuff (same as pc1)
$350 towards debt
Total: $1703

I usually get paid somewhere around $1500 – $1700.  If I have a smaller paycheck than I’ve allotted for, then I’ll just pay a little less towards debt during that 2 week period, and adjust when I get a higher paycheck. It should average out. In the immediate future, that means I’m going to pay less than I’ve estimated for March, to move up my rent payments.

The other final revision to my spending that I have to take care of in March is paying off the huge dump run fees I incurred when getting rid of ex mr. maven’s treasu..I mean junk. It basically cost me $300. Don’t know if he’ll ever pay me back for it (he’s said he is going to send me money, but that hasn’t happened quite yet). Either way, I need to pay off my credit card before I get charged any fees for it, so I have to bite the bullet and pay it off this month. So due to that, no debt payments for the rest of this month (unhappy face).

I’ll check in again next month or after and see how my budget has adjusted.

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