Well, another month of tracking my expenses as though I were on a traditional budget. That is, tracking spending in discrete categories.
Note that I said “tracking” — I’m still not fighting all that hard to stay within the “limits” I’m setting for each category. Mostly, I’m trying to get a feel for what they should be. That way I can eventually switch to keeping out just those amounts for spending, rather than my current method of keeping out $280 per week and making that amount last as long as possible.
So let’s see how I did spending-wise:
|Food at trivia||50||20.83||29.17|
Yet another month of being over budget. But certainly better than last month’s debacle! Overall, spending was still quite low.
Note that these amounts don’t include my mortgage or charitable giving. I don’t include charitable giving because I’m not comfortable sharing that number. And I don’t include my mortgage because I pay significantly more than I owe each month. So I’d have a misleading “over budget” category each month.
But if you want to tack on the basic payment as though this were a more bare bones budget, then my spending would’ve been at $2,978.38. That’s still under the $40,000/year I’m projecting in retirement, so that’s good.
It’s bizarre to look at these numbers. Because they’re relatively low, but I feel like I’m living pretty large overall.
After all, I’m giving myself a fair amount of going out/dining out money each month. And I’m not exactly reining in my grocery spending (though that number is inflated this month for reasons I’ll get into in a moment).
So I guess that it’s a good sign that I can feel like I’m spending freely and still come in under $3,000 a month. I haven’t felt terribly frugal lately — because I’m allowing myself so much going out money — so this is a nice boost to the frugal ego.
At any rate, let’s take a look at my “failures”:
This overage is pretty understandable.
My neck was pretty bad this month, so I got a second massage. That was $53 after tip.
Then I had two unexpected prescriptions and an unexpected doctor’s visit to the tune of $80ish total. And when I went to refill one of my meds, my doctor had called in a three-month supply, so I paid about $15 more than expected.
So that explains the bulk of the overage. It’s worth noting that that still leaves me about $20 over, so I must just have forgotten to budget for one of my meds.
Weirdly, I’m actually counting this category as a success. Why? It was artificially inflated because I stocked up majorly on protein bars — spending about $80 more than usual. Plus I spent an extra $25ish for my Friendsgiving food.
That means my normal grocery spending was actually under $200. While I currently project $225 a month for groceries, I’m hoping to keep it under $200 in the future. So this month still feels like a win in this category!
The budget for this category should’ve been far more busted, but I didn’t get a cut and color this month. So it evens out a bit that I bought a package deal for lip waxes. I did it because I got three waxes free when buying nine, so this will save me money in the future.
Way over budget here, but I’m not stressed.
Part of that was the $245 in repair bills. Per a reader’s suggestion, I’m going to start budgeting a couple of hundred a month for home repair because that seems to be an annoyingly frequent spending category.
Another $270 was for Target gift cards that I bought up while the store was offering GCs at 10% off. I buy all of my protein bars here so these will definitely get used, making them a very good deal indeed. So it’s not an expense I regret.
As for the rest of the budget categories, I came in pretty close to the projected spending. The one exception being gas. I only spent about half of the projected amount, but that’s because I’m filling up about every three weeks. Which means some months I fill up only once, other months twice. So this wasn’t me being amazingly frugal with gas. It’s just a timing thing.
All in all, this means there were no major frugal wins, but it also means I’m getting a relatively accurate picture of my spending. So that’s good, I suppose.
All in all
Still not quite ready to switch to a monthly budget. But I think next month I’ll try to pretend the budgeted amounts are all I have to live on — that is, no going over unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. Hopefully, I’ll have better news to report next month!
Do you have trouble staying within budget?