December Budget Update – Week 1ish

So far, I have spent $977.26.  Yep, almost half of my budget in a week-ish!  But it included a lot of my big expenses that come at the beginning of the month (plus my school loan payment that usually comes at the end, but I made early).

So far, I have really wanted to stop at Taco Bell and get froyo and buy candy at the checkout counter  (restricting my budget apparently brings out my inner fat kid).  But, I haven’t.  I don’t need or “deserve” these things.  I don’t even like Taco Bell.  I need, want and deserve to SAVE money (and prove to myself I can) and SPEND it on things that are actually important to me. 

I have been frugal with my gas usage because even though I drive a compact car, I’m always surprised at how often I fill up!  Walking to the grocery store also really helps you stick to a list!  I made my own black beans, buying a dry bag for less than the cost of one can, which makes a lot.  How much?  I don’t know.  A LOT.  In other news, I’ve been eating A LOT of black beans. 

I got the personal shopping bug out of my system, using a gift card (a Thanksgiving gift from my company, which my coworkers mocked, but I was thrilled about!) to scoop up some cozy lounge wear – and still have $11 left on it, yay H&M and Target!  Now I can focus on my Christmas shopping for others, which is where a good chunk of my budget is allocated. 

Other “free” items I plan on cashing in on this month:  taking my empty bag of Starbucks ground coffee in to the store for a free tall drip coffee ( it’s how I rationalize buying it over a less-expensive bag), a register-generated coupon for a free grande anything at SB (free coffee gets my panties in a twist in a good way, obviously), my monthly extra rental from BB and a free medium pizza from Papa John’s for donating blood.  I have been craving pizza!


Me V. The Budget

December is not going down without a fight.  I’m participating in Reverb 10.  I’m continuing my training for my half-marathon.  I’m taking my personal training certification test.  What am I most scared of tackling next month?

Spending my money responsibly.  I’ve been tracking my spending for years, but have never come up with or attempted to follow an actual budget.  Until now. 

My spending has been out of control.  It doesn’t feel out of control, but when I look at what I’ve spent, the little things are adding up like I can’t believe. 

I have an idea of what I can live off of per month because it’s what I was spending before.  Before being when I had a job that paid absolute crap and that’s all I could spend.  It’s not anywhere near what I’ve been spending lately, although the idea was to maintain that and focus on saving.  If I can avoid spending money today, I’ll have saved $123 for the month and that’s because of a last-minute hail Mary (I’m still getting paid out PTO from my last job).  Not what I had in mind. 

For December, though, I’ve worked out a plan of how I can spend that amount – gifts, charity and fun included.  It’s based on what I have been spending in certain categories and what cuts I think I can make.  Here it is:

$30           groceries 
$70           eating out (including dates, bars, etc.)
$820        rent and bills
$120        gas
$100.61  insurance
$21.68     entertainment (Blockbuster subscription)
$127         health
$15            toys for tots
$150.25   school loans
$25            credit card 
$370.46  gifts
$50            travel
$100         misc. spending 

It definitely seems manageable, but like I said, I’ve never followed a budget.  I’m such a rule follower, except when I’m the one setting the guidelines (diet, study schedule, stay away from this or that bad boy…forget it!).  If I stick to it, I will also be able to exceed my savings goal for the year.  The idea, of course, is also to NOT put anything on my credit card.

Tightening the Purse Strings

I’ve been in my new job for two months now.  I can’t believe how time has flown.  Getting this job was such a blessing.  My last job (and a lot of my coworkers) made me miserable, it wasn’t in the field I wanted to be in and it barely covered my monthly expenses, as in, it usually didn’t and I was frequently dipping into savings, working two jobs and/or milking overtime.

In my new job, I like my coworkers and I’m utilizing my degree.  It also came with a nice salary bump that also contributes to my wonderful feelings about it.

However, the salary bump isn’t as big in reality as it is in my head.  Before I got really good at saying no to, well pretty much everything…nights out, grocery shopping for anything but the basics, fun shopping of any kind.  I had to. 

Now, if I want coffee while I’m out, I say, sure, why not?  I suggest going to happy hours.  If I’m feeling lazy, I don’t pack my lunch and go out instead.

And the clothes.  I forgot how oppressive clothes shopping is.  Every occasion is a reason for a new dress, shoes, accessories.  I shop at discount places and usually only buy on sale, so what’s the harm, right?  Once I get it in my head that I need NEW, I waste SO much time trying to find it, when instead, I could spend 15 minutes in my closet and guess what?  The end result would be the same.  I would be clothes when I left the house. 

The saving – or unsaving – grace is that I haven’t activated my new credit card, so all these expenses, particularly the BIG ones (hello, breakup couch) I’d like to pretend I’m not making and would normally buy with my “fake” credit card money, are actually coming out of my bank account, taking my real money instead.

Which is why, when I checked my account this morning, I got a wake up call.  Just because my new employer values me as I should be valued, doesn’t mean I need to spend all of that extra value (and then some).

Practicing self-restraint is good.  Saying no is good.  It felt good to learn it earlier when I had to and I need to remember that.  I also need to remember that sometimes free things rock, actually they ALMOST ALWAYS rock way more.

I have a free gym membership to use.  I have a pile of library books to read.  I have beautiful fall weather (think 70s) to enjoy from my porch.  I don’t want to spend evenings at the mall seeking the right top.  It’s not going to fill any voids (uh oh, we’re straying from finance into mental-health-issues-land again, let’s get back on track). 

I have bigger purchases I want to make (hello, dying computer).  I have people I love who I want to buy Christmas presents for.  I have experiences I want to save for (running tourism, international travel and the joys of pet ownership).  Oh, and I really want the breakup chair-and-a-half to make a matching set.  Healthy, I know.