I’m dipping my toe in the water of doing a normal budget. In other words, breaking my spending down into discrete categories rather than just going by a weekly budget that encompasses all purchases.
While I do this test, I’m keeping the weekly budget, but I’m tracking my spending in the various categories I would have, just to get a good feel for how much I should be budgeting for in each sector. Once I have those numbers, I can set any spending-trimming goals.
I guess it’s worth noting that this time I wasn’t necessarily trying to stay within the budgeted amounts I list below. They were just my best guess at what spending would be. Again, I can try to trim later.
There’s a pretty good explanation for the huge “Miscellaneous” overage, I swear. But first let’s look at the other categories, shall we?
I’m still spending more than I’d like, but at least I kept it under $200 this month. That’s not bad, considering I don’t cook.
I’m trying to go to the grocery store just once a week, which has definitely trimmed some money off the bill. Here’s hoping I can keep that trend up and maybe still trim a little further this coming month.
This includes beauty services like my lip wax and hair cut/color, as well as any makeup purchases. I’m all set for makeup, so I stuck to beauty services only this month and came in exactly at budget.
Hoo boy. This one’s ugly. I spent nearly double the projected amount — and I’d even raised it to account for our Halloween-weekend night out on the town.
I spent too much on that night and again on my friend Christine’s birthday. That’s where the busted budget comes from.
Normally, we only go out as a group maybe every three or four months, so I’m not too worried about this admittedly painful over-spend. It’s just a reminder to have more game nights and fewer bar trips. Luckily, we have game nights planned for both this month and December.
Yet another budget horrendously busted. I’d planned for just one takeout meal a week. Then one week I covered my and Darryl’s meal (only fair since he’d paid for the last couple). Plus I had more takeout than I had planned for.
I’m going to budget a smidge more for this category next month, but I’m also going to try harder to stick to one meal out a week.
I normally buy a little something to help support the bar/restaurant that’s holding the trivia. This month, we only met up twice, and one of the times bar cash covered the tab completely. So spending here was artificially low this month.
Not much to say here. I did four loads, or about one a week. Man, there’s so much less laundry now that Tim is gone!
I may increase the amount I keep out next month because I think I may up the amount I “pay” for each load. (The amounts go into a Washer/Dryer fund.)
My projections included my Internet ($79), my $174 electric bill and my much-smaller water/sewer/garbage and gas bills.
As you can see, these came in a lot lower than expected this month, partially because the electric company dropped my monthly estimated payment by $40. I guess all that sweating in 82 degrees/freezing in 55-degrees paid off!
Finally, a busted budget category that isn’t my fault!
I had a medication get filled as a three-month supply, for an extra $74 I wasn’t expecting. Then I had to pay a $135 imaging bill for a CT scan I had done. (Don’t worry, everything’s fine.) Then there were about $46 in surprise copays. So yeah, budget busted — but for good reason.
This is basically anything I buy at the drugstore other than makeup: lotion, tampons, etc. I was over budget here because I put my big toilet paper stock-up in this category. I wasn’t sure where to put it, really, so I categorized it with the rest of the drugstore stuff.
Given that I won’t have to buy TP for another six to eight months, I think this category will be just fine in the future. I’m actually lowering it to $30 next month.
This month, I just budgeted for Hulu and Netflix. I think I’m going to up the amount a little next month to include a night at the movies for Darryl and myself. Maybe two of them, since all the holiday blockbusters will be coming out.
I think I need to file this under Miscellaneous in future months. It feels weird being on its own. Especially since it will always come in exactly at $50.60.
These are amounts saved through coupons and sales. This isn’t really “spent” since it goes into a savings account. But it’s money leaving the checking account. So it gets counted.
But if I go over budget here, it’s a good thing. It means that I’m finding all sorts of deals. At any rate, I came in a little under the budgeted amount. I guess I’ll have to try harder to save next month.
And the biggie…
What’s funny is that I thought $400 would be generous.
This category covers everything from yard work to the HVAC maintenance plan to batteries and other unforeseen expenses. The problem this month is that, hoo boy, there were some big unexpected expenses.
The main culprits here are the electrician bills and the three discounted GCs I bought.
I paid the electrician a total of $891.39. Definitely not a foreseeable expense. Meanwhile, the gift cards totaled $311.83. One got used up already, but the other two should cover expenses for a few months to come. So it was worth going over budget for those.
If not for those two factors, I’d have come in around $100 under budget. So here’s hoping next month is quieter.
Those aren’t disclosed on here because I’m not comfortable sharing those numbers. But I did manage to contribute everything I budgeted for. This month, the money went to the ASPCA, Feeding America and Revanche’s efforts to clothe and buy gifts for people on the Lakota reservation.
You might notice that none of those were included.
Taxes remain static, so I don’t bother including them in my budget. But if you want a full picture, tack on $1,853 to my spending. That includes both halves of my FICA (remember, I employ myself) plus my personal taxes.
As for the mortgage, the amount I put toward it each month shifts, depending on things like how much I accrue in saved savings, whether rent is discounted for the hassle of repairs, etc. And since I’ll always pay more than is owed, it would create an artificial deficit of “overspending” so it gets left off.
Retirement… Well, I throw as much as I can at that, but it varies too wildly to predict. If you want to see how much I throw at that, check out my monthly financial updates.
Seemingly, a bad month. But.
The additional healthcare bills aren’t going to be repeated in the future, and I don’t plan on buying $300 worth of discounted gift cards every month. And (I’m praying) there won’t be more big repair bills in the near future.
So I think it’ll be okay.
Besides, even with being so over budget I didn’t spend that much compared to a lot of people — especially if you don’t count the electrican’s bill. In that case, I spent a little over $2,500. Even with my mortgage, assuming a steady spending rate, that’d be a yearly total of just over $37,000 a year. Which is less than I project I’ll have in retirement distributions. So that’s all that matters to me at the moment.
That said, I’m hoping to see a much lower spend next month.
How did your budget go this month? Did you have any budget-busters?