Friday, June 22, 2007

Well, I Managed to Blow that Budget!

One of the things I'm working really hard on this year is managing my out-of-control finances. Sure, there was some bad luck in there, but there's also been a lot of careless spending on my part. I don't keep track of what I spend. I don't balance my checkbook. I just keep approximate ideas of what I have and what I've spent in my head and spend accordingly. I'm usually about sorta maybe around where I thought I've been.

And when I wasn't, I had a credit card.

Now the credit card debt is somewhere around 15K ($14,714.52).

I own nothing but my bicycle and I'm living off the good graces of friends. My goal for the year is to pay down this debt and learn how to budget properly. Luckily, I live with some people who are very good with money. Stephanie and the Old Man are my age - we went to high school together - and they own a house and two cars, have little to no credit card debt and live a very lean, budgeted life that's perfectly comfortable and manageable.

I already know I can't live as tightly as they do (I have a travel addiction and an SO who lives in another country; some extravagence is neccessary in order to live this sort of life), but I can live a lot better than I do.

So I came up with a budget of about what I should be spending in order to spend less than I make. It looks like this:

AK Student Loan: $55
CitiBank CC: $500
WAMU CC: $200
Transit: $35
MA Gym: $85
Groceries: $320
Fun: $195
Meds: $150
(my other two student loans have been deferred until September)


As you can see, I should have a whole $2.82 left over every month!

After logging all of my receipts for the last two weeks I decided to look at how I was doing for the month as far as variable costs ("fun" and "groceries"). I figured that made the math easy.

I should be at about half the total monthly cost for each of the variable bills, so:


Groceries: $218.09

Actual Total: $228.23
Budgeted Total: $110.00

Difference: -118.23


Office supplies: $36.81
Dinner out: $30.13
Books: $7.43
Coffee: $37.24

Actual Total: $111.61
Budgeted Total: $97.50

Difference: -$14.11

Amount overbudget so far this month: $132.24

As you can see, I'm off to a fantastic start!

All snark aside, it does give me an idea of what I'm spending and areas where I can improve. I *do* spend a lot on food. Steph and the Old Man cook a lot with rice and noodles. If I live on rice and noodles I'll feel crappy and triple or quadruple the amount of insulin I use, which would probably result in an extra $80 a month in med costs.

But there are places I can cut back - I need to stop buying my coveted Diet Cherry Coke, which is $15 a week. And I've got to keep the coffee costs to $10 a week. That's one *regular* coffee a day, and if I skip a couple weekday coffee runs, that'll give me enough "leftover" for a foo-foo coffee when I write at the coffee shop on weekends.

I feel bad that the "fun" budget is so high, but because it includes office supplies and actual brain-stimulating activities like going out to new places to eat, movies, and plays... it's hard to cut that. I could probably get it down a lot further, though.

Budgeting is SO FUN!

I don't know why I didn't do this before!

1 comments so far. Got something to say?

Elizabeth said...

Why do you buy coffee (other than the frou frou drinks) at the store? Far cheaper to brew it yourself.

For eating cheaply without going nuts on the starch, you can't beat eggs and beans. Dry beans are cheaper than canned, but even the canned ones are pretty cheap. And frozen vegetables are cheaper than fresh.

Good luck.