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Normally, I post Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. But hopefully, you folks have found some way to celebrate Thanksgiving (even though I have faith that you’re not gathering over the holidays) that will distract you somewhat from your normal blog reading. So here’s the wreckage of my budget a day early!
This is gonna be ugly folks. Seriously. Between stress/grief eating (election, my grandfather) and a big unexpected repair bill, I shot so far past the budget that it’s absurd. Out of 13 categories, I was only at/under budget in four. Eesh.
But let’s take a more specific look at the damage:
Oof. So the big question: What happened??? Well…
While this is a catch-all category, so there aren’t any “unusual” expenses per se, there were some items of note.
First, I bought a $100 Target gift card for $90 through Raise. (And got $1 cash back from Mr. Rebates.) That alone was nearly 1/2 of my usual budgeted amount for this category.
Then there was the financial advice I asked of a my friend Jen. I realized after asking/getting an answer that she runs a financial coaching business, so it was unfair to ask for free advice. So I paid her for the 20 or so minutes I took up of her time ($50 or 1/4 of the usual budgeted amount).
Then there was the sympathy gift to my grandfather’s wife (still can’t quite bring myself to use the correct “w” word), for which I paid a heinous amount in shipping. Thus the total was nearly $67. Aka just over 1/3 of the usual budgeted amount.
Oh, and one of my credit cards’ annual fee ($95) hit. I probably should’ve cancelled it, but I get a free night at a hotel when travel is actually safe again. So probably worth it.
And it’s also worth noting, of course, that almost $251 of “spending” in this category actually went to the Saved Savings account. This is where I put any money that I saved from coupons, sales, store rewards, etc.
I had the one killer deal at CVS plus another one shortly thereafter, which added up to $35 in savings alone. Two therapy telesessions with a $0 copay (instead of $25) meant another $50 saved. Also, I still had a credit on my account with the electric company, so I once again didn’t have to pay the $131.52 I normally do. And of course there were a bunch of smaller savings too.
More mundane spending in this realm included:
- $19ish for some cupcakes I dropped off for a friend’s birthday
- $30 for an actual gift for someone else who reads this blog, so I won’t name names
- $30 for some toilet paper Mom ordered me from Costco
- $20 cash to have for things like tips
So you can see why it was a pricey month for this category.
Ouch ouch ouch.
I’d already increased the normal $200 budget to $500 because my yearly termite coverage bill was due, and that alone was around $330. So even with the usual $30 for my HVAC units’ plan and new bedding at $136ish, I would’ve been within the budget.
There were some issues with the main house’s unit. They were mainly small amounts, but with four or five of them, they added up to around $1,420. Sigh.
Thus we have the painful overage in this category.
Guess I underbudgeted here. I planned for one load a week, plus bras (which go in the washer on handwash but are hung up to dry). But instead I did five loads and no bras. (Because working from home and rarely going anywhere where I need to be very presentable, I barely wear anything other than sports bras now.)
So slight overage here, but nothing crazy.
Unsurprisingly, I came in exactly on budget. Because this charge doesn’t change month to month.
Slightly under budget here because I guess I overestimated what gas prices would be when I filled up again. Since they seem to be holding steady around $2.20 for now, I decreased this category’s budget to $25 for this next budget cycle.
The bulk of this category’s expense was my basic insurance ($396.60) and the $24 extra I pay for dental coverage. Beyond that, there were $50 of prescriptions, the $50 auto-charge for my massage, $20 for two sets of labwork and other boring stuff.
I have an asterisk in this category because I got an extra massage but have a credit on my account. Plus I tipped for the massages out of my walking around money. Since the cash gets counted in Miscellaneous when I take it out of the bank, I don’t count it toward the official total for any category when it’s spent.
But it’s worth at least noting that I gave $30 of tips in cash this month, along with all the other healthcare spending.
This category is just a huge mess.
First of all, the asterisk is there because I don’t only spend $126ish on groceries. Well, not exactly.
Normally, I get six boxes (about $77) of protein bars from Target each month, but since those are paid for with discounted gift cards (which are counted in the Miscellaneous category) I budget for actual grocery spending out of monthly funds that I’m going to do.
But this month, there was a deal at Target, so I got extra boxes bars. Meaning I spent $44ish on protein bars out of monthly spending that wasn’t planned for.
Then there’s the quarterly peanut butter shipment for around $29. (They don’t sell the brand I like down here, and once you’ve acclimated to low-sugar peanut butter, the regular stuff tastes funny.)
But the real credit for the overspending goes to my stress-eating. I got far too much takeout (more on that in a minute), but I spent around $70 on junk food this month. Seventy. Dollars. Eep!
So… really gotta work on the stress eating stat.
I only have to buy a large bag of cat food maybe once every five or even six months. So I never remember how much it’ll be. Thus I underestimated how much I needed to budget for it this month. Hence the $3.01 overage. Still, pretty close.
The other charge here was for Josie’s Banfield plan ($33.95).
Also a close one. But between some coupons and Extrabux, there was a too-good-to-pass-up deal on two pieces of makeup I’ll need in the next month or so. I paid $4.20 in the end, which was $4.20 more than I budgeted for.
Okay, super-duper overshot the budget here, but for a good reason: stock-up. As previously mentioned, I got a killer deal at CVS. The TLDR version: I combined coupons and sales and Extrabux to get about $116 of items for just under $50 before tax ($55ish after it).
Since this category’s budget is only $40, though, this put me over the limit with just one transaction. Still, it should greatly reduce what I need to spend in this category in the next few months. So I’m compensating by lowering the Personal Care budget for a bit.
The other items purchased were contact lens solution and my facial moisturizer. (As an Amazon associate, I get compensated for purchases through my links.)
I actually estimated almost perfectly here. Normally, the limit for this category is higher, but without the main expense of my electric bill, it’s significantly lower right now. (The last of the credit will be used up in November. Farewell, my old friend.)
My water/sewer/trash bill was in the low $50s but I rounded it up to $60 to help with the assistance program. That type of program helped keep me afloat when I was truly broke, so now that I’m in a better position, I need to pay it forward.
The gas bill was low, since the weather was still hot. Cooler days are coming, so I anticipate more hot showers and a slightly increased bill.
Not quite sure how I was $0.05 off here. This category just has Netflix and Hulu. So either Hulu dropped its price by $0.05 or I just fouled up when typing in the total. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it’s the latter.
Okay, I was dreading this category because, well, it’s heinous. I feel like $100 is far too generous for this category to begin with, but I kept it there because I figured election stress would cause me to steer very clear of my diet. Even so, I overshot that by more than 100% this month.
The asterisk is because on three occasions I gave the person running my food to the car a $1 cash tip. And again, since it’s from cash accounted for in Miscellaneous, I don’t count it in this category’s total.
Anyway, on two of the occasions, I was actually buying for both Aaron and myself. But that’s only because he paid three other times. So I had even more takeout than is indicated here. (Though in some of those cases, I might’ve munched at home, but I went along with him. Because I didn’t want him to see, for example, that sometimes I just eat corn chips for dinner.)
So all in all, I paid for takeout on average more than four times a week this month. Add in the meals Aaron paid for, and that means I got takeout nearly five days a week this month.
What the holy hell??? I never eat this much takeout. Ever. I usually consider two times a week a tad excessive.
I don’t think this month will be remotely similar. Firstly, because I’m sort of burned out on takeout — how could I not be? — and secondly because there is less stress this month, with the election more or less settled. And thirdly, because my pants are (unsurprisingly) getting a bit snug.
But there’s more
Conspicuously absent here are a few expenses, such as my mortgage and charitable contributions. Also, since my business pays for my Internet, I don’t cout that cost here. And it’s not cheap, since I have to have a business account to get a static IP.
I don’t include my mortgage because I pay extra principal each month, which would put me continually overbudget. And I’m not comfortable disclosing my giving amount at this time.
But I can at least give you the overall total, so you know what I actually spent this month: $5,765.53.
Excuse me while I go puke. Even subtracting the repairs, we’re left with almost $4,350 spending this month.
All in all
But as awful as this month was spending-wise, I’m making it a point not to be too hard on myself. This was an awful 31 days, with all the stress leading up to the election and my grandfather going into the hospital shortly after and then dying just eight days later.
If these spending levels were to become a habit, I’d be concerned and give myself a stern talking to. But I don’t think that’s likely. I think this was just a terrible month and I should give myself a little latitude. (Look at me, being all kind to myself!)