Must Be the Money!

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Is it really time to get a budget check-up? I can’t believe January is already gone! One month of this new year has already slipped out from under our feet, but it feels like I was just celebrating the beginning yesterday. It’s amazing how quickly 30 days can fly by, and how much can be accomplished! The workout goals for this month have played out better than I ever could have imagined, but I’ll hold off on that until Monday. Until then, it’s time to come clean: my budget did not go even close to how I had hoped it would this month. I know that it is the beginning of the year, and the very first month of my new budget, but it was not as pretty as I would have hoped. I hate to say I have good excuses, because they are excuses nonetheless, but I’m going to say it anyways. I have a good reason (or three)!

Reason #1 My Budget Failed This Month// I completely forgot about the whole part of college where I have to buy textbooks. And a lot of them. All at once. Spending over $200 on texts for my last semester came as a surprise, although I knew it was coming, and it seriously pained me to see it all whisked out of my savings! I know that it was a necessary expense, but it was an unaccounted for expense to say the least. This pain also could have been due to…

Reason #2 My Budget Failed This Month// I bought a dress. And stuff at Target that I could have lived without. I know that these are just two things on my list, but “just two things” can easily turn into an excuse that I need to get rid of. NOW. So, I need to set better motivational goals for myself to follow so that maybe I can focus on saving more for future awesome purchases or investments.

Reason #3 My Budget Failed This Month// I low-balled on my groceries. If I could put words towards telling you exactly how angry this made me, I would do it, but I just can’t. Zach told me at the beginning of the month that I’d go over that particular section of my budget. I tried to tell myself he was wrong. I said he was wrong when I spent twice my weekly budget the first week of stocking up. I told myself this as I held off buying food for the next week. I told myself this as I realized that I make a separate mini-grocery run on the weekends at Zach’s place. And then, this week, as I made my last trip to the grocery store, I admitted it. My grocery budget sucked, and it needed to bump up.

I think the main reason this particular reason sucked the most is that I don’t have a category where I can budge on my spendings. I hit each budget as it was, saving in my emergency funds and the like, and I even had a few bucks to spare in my entertainment and eating out envelopes. But this was not nearly enough for me to cut out and place into my groceries, nor was it dependable enough of a category to lower. So, I have just told myself to suck it up; groceries are a very necessary spending column (survival, duh), and I can’t afford not to raise it a bit. So as it is, here is a brief look into what I do each month (as of today’s new and improved grocery budget).

*Note: not every budget is shown, but if you are looking for more comparisons, feel free to ask!*

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I apologize for the plain and simple, but that’s pretty much all I’ve got! This is a very small glimpse into my personal budget. Keep in mind that I’m a single college student who has her rent paid for. I’m sure that if I had other bills to be paying at the time, certain areas would have a smaller budget that they do now. However, considering my personal situation and spending habits, this budget fits me perfectly, and leaves me making more than I’m spending. Creating a savings cushion for myself before I am married/on my own/graduating grad school is something that I find extremely important, and this budget allows me to do just that.

Before the budget renovation, my grocery budget was at $120 a month. At $30 a week, I was not doing so well. Amazingly, seeing my spending habits, bumping my budget up to $180 a month ($45 a week), I am helping set myself up for more financial success. Giving myself $20 total for entertainment and eating out really gives me the freedom to have some fun with my week without overdoing it. My entertainment budget can be used on anything from movies, magazines, books, a concert, what have you. I personally use mine on magazines exclusively…at least for now. Eating out is fairly straightforward as well; Starbucks, Panera, frozen yogurt. I leave my house to eat it somewhere else, it comes from this envelope. Certain envelopes roll over from month to month, my haircuts budget from the example, which means the cash builds up to the amount I will need when I go to the salon next. I also have three savings categories, my emergency auto savings in the example. This means that I am saving $20 a month for when I have to get an oil change, new tires, windshield wipers, what have you. Since I really only have an “emergency” auto need once or twice a year, the savings gives me plenty of wiggle room.

Only two charges go directly on my card, and those are gas and my Hulu subscription (judge me!). Gas is always an unpredictable charge, and it is necessary anyways, so I always charge it. Hulu is a direct charge. If I were paying rent/mortgage or any bills, I would take them from my card as well. The amounts are necessary, consistent, and normally can be set up for a direct charge.

And there you have it! This budget works very well for me, and although I had my various hangups this week, I am hoping that with the changes I’ve made after this month, I will be able to be more happy about the way it all works out next month. Until then, I need to come up with a challenge to ward off pointless spending! Maybe I’ll go with my exercise goal (workout 5 days a week for one month, make a workout-related purchase), or maybe I’ll have to come up with something a little more expense-friendly (hit my budget for the majority of the month, get a delicious dish of frozen yogurt from Orange Leaf!). Any who, I’m sure we can explore further as the month comes around!

If you have any budget tips, please feel free to share! I love to hear all about new ways to make it more fun.

Also, as a side note, this budget is adapted from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Revisited. If you want to learn more, ask or look into it!

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One thought on “Must Be the Money!

  1. Creating a budget is an important first step to financial freedom. But it can also be a tough adjustment. I love your positive attitude and the fact that you aren’t letting a few bumps in the road discourage you. You won’t be under budget every time; the important thing is that you learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.
    A couple things my wife and I do to keep food costs down is shop at the dollar store (their food is surprisingly good for as cheap as it is), keep an eye open for deals and coupons, and limit the grocery runs to once a week. That way, we avoid more temptation to over spend and instead of letting food go bad, we use more of what’s already in the house.
    If you’d like any more tips on budgeting or saving and investing money, please check out my blog: http://lessonsinpersonalfinance.com/.
    I hope you find it helpful and I wish you all the best with your saving goals!

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