Okay, folks, this was a painful, painful month. A lot of it was just a convergence of expenses amassing into a glut of spending. But some of it was admittedly frivolous — wonderfully, enjoyably unnecessary — spending.
But let’s see the damage, shall we?
While things did mostly even out in the categories I was under budget, seeing myself go overbudget in literally half was pretty painful. So let’s look at where things went horribly wrong. (Asterisks shown in the table are explained in each section.)
Obviously, this one is a catch-all for anything that didn’t fit into the normal categories. It includes things like life insurance ($52.60) and Netflix ($15.19) and otherwise just incurred expenses that don’t belong in other categories.
The amount for this category is usually $200, but I increased it because I knew I’d have to pay TaxAct, which was a painful $135.64. But I did get a big refund, so I suppose it was worth every penny.
There was also the matter of some new workout clothes I bought because I didn’t want to go to the gym in clothes with holes and/or paint stains. I got four tanks and two leggings for $70.75, so it was a good deal. But still painful when added up.
Since the last hike went decently well, I also found some hiking boots at Big 5 ($27.14) so I can hopefully be a bit more sure-footed next time.
I got $20 out in cash for walking around money — $15 of which went to a tip for the masseuse now that I’m finally able to get massages again (hooray!)
In addition, I had to pay $9.76 to replace my pillbox that I lost somehow. I carry one with me in case I forget to take my Adderall before leaving for trivia night and to keep my nighttime meds in if I stay at Aaron’s.
Oh, and I broke down and bought a lint brush for $9.22 because the pet-hair-on-black-clothing situation is out of control.
Also, I spent $14.11 for the e-book version of Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find — and Keep — Love. (As an Amazon affiliate, I am compensated for orders placed through my links.) I highly recommend this one, whether you’re looking for your next partner or already in a relationship. It was really helpful in giving me some insight into and suggestions for some traits I’ve been struggling with lately (and, of course, in the past).
On a more frivolous note, I bought nine rings for $56.20. No regrets, I absolutely love them (and the price, which included a 20% discount from a coupon site) and am wearing them whenever I go out with the group, whether that’s a night out or just trivia.
I also spent $9.58 on a couple new shirts at Goodwill because some of my current ones fit a bit too snugly at present.
Another $20.22 went toward some wireless earbuds I’m very happy with and that are only $17.58 right now for any of you looking for some. (Again, as an Amazon affiliate, I am compensated for orders placed through my links.) I got sick of my wired earbuds falling out during workouts.
There were a few odds and ends beyond that — little dollar store things like new reading glasses and such — but that pretty much covers everything.
Well, except for the asterisk, of course. That’s there because some of the “spending” in this section actually went into my Saved Savings account. Specifically, $45.32 went into the account for takeout paid for by gift card and drugstore items paid for with my CVS CarePass.
Ah, one of the few categories where I came in under budget!
Each month, an HVAC company charges me $30 for two maintenance plans on my main and guest house units. I get a discount on services, free semi-annual cleanings and free emergency calls for any pressing evening/weekend issues.
I also paid $60 to a guy because the weeds got to the point where I couldn’t handle them myself. I tried, but even taking care of part of the backyard left me sore for days. This guy was great, even using a hoe to get the front yard weeds out, rather than just using a weedwhacker.
Since Aaron got the kittens, I’ve mainly been going to him. He did finally come over here once, but in the first several weeks, we were concerned about leaving them overnight.
Aaron is 19 miles away, so even a weekly trip added up pretty quickly. As a result, I had to fill up the car twice this month, and I apparently very slightly underestimated what gas prices would be.
Each time I do a load of laundry, I put $3.50 into a Washer/Dryer fund for when my current units die. Some readers have suggested it should be, as laundromat prices have gone way up; but I’m pretty close to what I need for replacement units. So I’ll probably just increase the amount once new units are installed.
Anyway, I did slightly fewer loads than anticipated, but also I think this category amount just needs to be lower.
This overage occurred partly because I have a nasty habit of forgetting that Josie occasionally needs a new bag of food, not just a monthly box of litter.
Well, actually it wasn’t just food.
I found a deal at Petco for 20% off $50+ pickup orders and the website had 40-lb boxes of Arm & Hammer litter for $15.28 (pre-discount). So I got three boxes — the most I figured could reasonably carry in all by myself — plus the food plus a couple of toys for Josie for a total of $77.58.
Then there’s the $33.95 I pay for Josie’s Banfield plan. Thus I ended up spending more than double the projected amount. Oops.
I finally get to venture out into the world! It’s surreally familiar, even as you’re choosing places that are outdoors or keep their very large windows open and/or have plastic from ceiling to seat between booths.
My friends and I only whopped it up twice, but $13 drinks (and drunk munchies) add up quickly. So two nights out — both of which included an entree in addition to drinks — exceeded my anticipated spending. Oops. But also no regrets.
I was under budget here because Medicare plans are weird.
Specifically, mine pays you for keeping up with routine visits: annual exams, annual physicals, mammograms, etc. That payment is put on a debit card, but the funds can only be used for transportation, utilities or Sam’s Club/Walmart purchases.
Very weird, but I’m not arguing with being able to pay my city services bill with bonuses for medical care I would’ve gotten anyway.
So without the water/sewer/garbage charge (about $55), I just paid $132.50 for my averaged-out electricity bill and $26.13 for the natural gas that the water heater uses.
I’m starting to eat slightly more healthily as I get active. But I’m definitely still indulging in plenty of takeout. It’s a process. Or maybe it’s just how I am. Time will tell.
I got breakfast for myself and Aaron from Cracker Barrel one Sunday morning ($28.03) and another time he was craving ColdStone (and had paid for dinner) so I spent $16.82 (!) for our ice cream.
The day after my second vaccine shot, I was indulging my body as I prepared to feel awful later; so I got both my-first-in-at-least-three-years Jamba Juice ($8.53) in the morning and later in the day some Dairy Queen ($11.38). There was also pizza and cinnamon sticks ($18.99), some takeout from a local funky eatery ($9.83) and — caving after having cravings four times in two weeks — frozen yogurt ($8.17).
The asterisk is because I usually have a gift card to the local eatery I mentioned, so there was $39.32 of takeout meals that had the money go to Saved Savings (and thus fall in the Miscellaneous category).
I just barely made it under the budget here — and only because the beauty school was offering $5 haircuts last month.
This category’s spending was the haircut (yay!!!), some hair dye at CVS ($7.90) and my aesthetician for $40. Since haircuts are normally $20, I need to increase the category budget during my current month.
Ugh, this is always such a hard category to predict. It seems like there’s always a sale or some product I completely forgot will need replenishing. So I’m often over budget here.
This month’s super exciting purchases were sunscreen and a dental guard ($36.88), some lens solution ($5.96 after coupons) and, hold onto your hats, Blistex.
What can I say? I live large.
I can’t believe I went over budget on this category. I’d even increased from $600 to $700 to account for my primary care doctor being out of pocket while he recertifies with my insurance.
I think one of the main issues this month was the veritable crap-ton of supplements I bought: EPA/DHA pills, magnesium for my Restless Leg, more EPA/DHA pills because I didn’t like the first ones, Liquid IV to help with my dehydration issues and my fiber gummies. All those added up to $106.21.
Then there were my prescriptions, which totaled $112.65. And my insurance premium $407.50 plus the $32 dental add-on benefits. Plus the $65 for my doctor. (He’s charging me just the Medicare-approved amount.)
The asterisk here is because I also got a massage ($50) and left a $15 tip based on the usual $75 charge. But I had some massages banked from the auto-charge program that gets me $50 massages. And the $15 came out of the cash I withdrew from the ATM.
I actually did pretty well this month, though I bought more cheese than I’d like. I’m afraid I’m currently addicted to the chipotle gouda flavor from the Fry’s deli and eat it on Wheat Thins.
This is an issue mainly because I’m trying to eat more healthily — and because my cholesterol isn’t great overall. So I need to work on cutting down that intake somewhat.
But I also got a fair amount of produce. At one point, strawberries were 4/$5, so I stocked up at the beginning and the end of that special and ate a ton of berries. I regret nothing, though my tooth enamel might have a different opinion.
The asterisk here is to remind you that I also spend a little under $80 a month in protein bars each month. (I have two a day, since I do small meals throughout the day.) The amount isn’t counted here because I pay with discounted gift cards I buy on Raise. Since I count the gift cards in the budget when I buy them, I don’t count them here too.
All in all
Given how many categories were over budget, it’s a minor miracle that I came in only $53.13 over projected spending. But that doesn’t take away the sting of being over budget in six out of 12 categories.
This month, my overall spending should down a bit. The last three months’ Miscellaneous sections have been higher: car tabs one month, prepaying for a year of Mint cell service another and the aforementioned taxes last month. This month doesn’t appear to hold any larger anticipated miscellaneous expenses. So that should help bring my total down a bit. I hope.
And I am all set on supplements for a while, thank goodness. So that’s about $100 less I should be spending this month.
But of course, the $2,176.13 total in the table doesn’t account for all of the money that left my account this month.
I don’t count my mortgage there since I pay extra every month — and it varies each month — so I would perpetually be over budget in that category. I also don’t count charitable donations or my Internet (which is paid for by my business).
So the total amount leaving my main bank accounts was $3,990.36. Owwwwwwwwww. I shoot for $40,000 of yearly spending in anticipation of retirement income, so this is way over my target.
But I remind myself that things will look a bit different in retirement.
At that point, I’ll only need to pay taxes and insurance on my house. So even if those rise to be the same as my current base mortgage payment ($613 now that escrow adjusted for my new insurance), that would still be $600 to $800 a month less that I’d be paying out.
And in retirement, my insurance premium will be cheaper. While I already have Medicare (for newer readers, I was on Social Security Disability for a few years), I haven’t worked long enough yet to qualify for the lower premium. So in retirement, I should save about $200 a month.
So given that this month’s spending had a few unusual expenses and that I’ll have lower expenses in retirement, it’s probably fine. But I still wouldn’t mind some lower-spend months. That said, my friends and I are making it a point to go out — semi-routine brunch is being discussed, more nights out drinking are planned and we’re going to trivia again — so we’ll see how things shake down this month.
How did everyone else’s spending go this past month?