February Recap

Ok, Februrary. You’re done. You were short. You were sweet. You were oddly expensive. And I’m a little bit glad you’re over. Here’s how you went:

Credit Cards (-$2306.47)

This month was SUPER CRUCIAL. To paying down my credit cards. Using my tax return and all my christmas money, I managed to make a SERIOUS dent. I should have one card paid off by summer. The other is slated for December 2014. My eye is on the prize, y’all!

Savings (+$230)

Nothing major happening here. I stocked away some cash for the irregular expenses that will be coming due in the summer. And I threw about $60 towards my long term savings. At least I saved.

Utilities (Budgeted: $400; Actual Cost: $501.61)

Ok, this one seems ridiculous, I know. But it’s totally not! My gas bill has been coming off the next month’s budget for a few months now because the bill comes at the very end of the month. So this month, I decided to use the slack in my budget to shift that expense back into the appropriate month. So yes, I paid two gas bills this month. But now I’m caught up and back on point.

Groceries (Budgeted: $110; Actual Cost: $227.50)

I am slowly learning that I am terrible at actually budgeting for my grocery bill….This month’s goal of writing down everything should help clarify exactly where I’m slipping. Though, I can tell you my guess has something to do with a lil’ guy whose name begins with W- and ends with -INE. Since I’m off alcohol until my hives resolve, this should at least help, right?

Restaurants (Budgeted: $40; Actual Cost: $130.53)

Ok. This was my bad. A friend came to visit, and I completely forgot to budget fun money. I assume responsibility for crashing and burning on this one.

Entertainment (Budgeted: $20; Actual Cost: $82.79)

See above re: Friend Visiting.

Gifts (Budgeted: $0; Actual Cost: $44.63)

How the heck did I forget that I buy my best friend valentine’s flowers every year?? I’ve been doing it for TEN YEARS! I added this to my irregular expenses so that next year when this comes up, I’ll have $50 on hand.

Gas/Parking (Budgeted: $60; Actual Cost: $77.90)

No idea. Gas is expensive? Did I really drive that much? I mean, I guess I did….

Health (Budgeted: $295; Actual Cost: $218.62)

I argued my way out of paying $75 on a bill. I didn’t owe it. It was clerical error. Only took me 6 hours on the phone over 4 days to get actual resolution! (Health Insurance–Oy!)

Personal (Budgeted: $25; Actual Cost: $33.17)

I am truly shocked that this wasn’t higher. So I’ll take being $8 over.

Home (Budgeted: $10; Actual Cost: $194.41)

This is what happens when I clean. I freak out; go to Target; buy all these cleaning supplies; order stuff online; and then regret it at the end of the month when I’ve blown my budget. So maybe I need to start a cleaning budget?? I don’t know how to approach this one, so advice is SUPER welcome!

Glasses (Budgeted: $120; Actual Cost: $125)

My own mistake. I miscalculated how much Warby Parker would charge.

So there you have it. I was over budget just about everywhere. But, I made KILLER progress on my debt reduction plan. So all in all, I ain’t made at February!







Do Gift Cards Count?

Next month, I will start a habit of writing down every expense going in and coming out of my bank account. Every penny dropped in the gutter, every automatic payment, every movement of cash will be documented. Additionally, I will break down the expenses to the line item, so that every tub of yogurt or sweater on-sale at Target will be documented. This is one of the initial steps recommended in Your Money or Your Life. I dabbled with this in January. It was really successful as it required me to be extremely mindful with my purchases. Even though my spending was wonkadoodle that month, I felt more in control of my finances. February…less so….

But one of the things I will not be tracking are gift card purchases. Why? They were gifts. The money isn’t mine. It was never mind. The card is fundamentally a placeholder for the “gifts” that the cards procure me. I feel like the YMoYL-ers would disagree with this philosophy. But I feel that keeping the gift cards separate is going to help with my general mundane feeling that life on a budget sucks.

What do y’all think? Gift card spending: actually an expense? Or just a fun treat?

Overspent with 5 days to go!

If you had asked me last week, I would have giddily told that this month I would come in under budget. There would have been light behind my eyes. I might have danced.

As of this morning, that is not happening. I’m overbudget. Wamp wamp. The good news is that I purposefully budget with a buffer. My budget is set lower than what I bring in each month. The bad news is that I’m pretty sure I’m surpassing that one too.

The lesson I am learning every month is that I suck at budgets. Looks like it’s time to get back to writing down all my purchases neurotically again. A month without led to another accidental overspend.

Putting my serious pants on right now.

Roll call: How do you budget? Are you a 50/20/30 girl? Cash only? What works, people?

Travel SNAFU & Temptation

So I took a work trip to the MidWest on Tuesday. I was invited to participate on a panel. I thought I would just fly in and out so I could minimize the dent to our office’s travel budget. Boy was I freaking wrong.

My flight home was supposed to be last night at 7:30. Thanks to the Winter PAX (whatever that is), I’m here until Friday at 1:30pm. Not only is this rather inconvenient on all fronts, it’s creating some seriously difficult temptation. I want to go shopping at book stores and yarn stores. I want to go eat all the delicious foods. But my budget for February is tight. Super tight. And after January’s epic fail, I’m determined to get back on track.

So here I am, in my hotel room, reading books & watching the olympics, trying to not spend any money that isn’t completely necessary.

Thank goodness I was smart enough to bring 2 books and rent 2 movies from iTunes before I left!

How are you surviving the Winter PAX?

Penny wise and Pound(cake) Foolish

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted. Why? Health stuff. I won’t bore you by complaining about it here. But it’s been pretty emotionally debilitating, so I have been spending my nights watching too much Scandal and eating my feelings.

Today, I did both something positive for my budget and something negative.

The Positive!

I maintenanced my vaccum cleaner. Thrilling, no? I really wanted a new one, but then thought that would be incredibly wasteful. So I took it apart, cleaned all the filters and hoses, de-haired the roller-brush thing, and put in back together. All it cost was 1 hour of my time.

The Negative. 😦

I spent. And spent. First, I bought replacement parts for the vaccum. Though $30 for parts is better than $150 for a new one, it was still an unplanned and unbudgeted expense. Then, I bought flowers for Valentines for my best friend (it’s a 10 year long tradition that I refuse to give up on). It was (of course) unbudgeted. How do I forget every year that I do this? Anyway, I have added it to my irregular expense account. So now, I set aside $5/month. Then, I ordered new glasses. A budgeted expense, but a painful and expensive one. But my eyes need it. And then, I went to Target and bought a bunch of stuff that I needed but hadn’t budgeted for as well as somethings I did not need but bought anyway. I did go in with a list to minimize extraneous purchases. But that candle and box of Luna bars where NOT on the list…

The lesson I learned is never shop (or let yourself anywhere near your credit card) when living in pity party land. The result are spending spurts that put dents in the budget.

What are your spending triggers? What do you splurge on at Target? How do you stop yourself for pity-shopping? (No really. Tell me. I clearly need help.)