Bills Again

I opened my mail last week and got a bill for property taxes. Here’s the thing: I can’t recall the last time I got a bill as I’ve got online banking set up and I pay it as a monthly bill. I felt a bit ill as this is ‘my’ bill in the division ML and I have going.

When ML got home I mentioned it to him and promised to call the City to see what’s happening. Which is when he reminded me that a few months ago I had accidentally paid our water bill rather than our taxes. We still have an enormous credit with the water company!

So in lieu of checking my accounts again or even seeing if I paid a portion of the tax bill already I paid it in full and added a $50 buffer. Can you guess what I did? I double paid in my panic. Now we’ve got a huge credit with the company though my monthly budget is smarting as I have basically paid away my buffer.

I now have $13 budgeted until the end of the  month with a buffer of $40 help loosen that. While I know $13 isn’t enough for me to go the next 2 weeks, especially since Bunny needs some items, $50 should work.

Here’s my plan:

  • Bunny: litter, kibble ($20)
  • Groceries: make sure to menu plan! ($20)
  • No eating out!!
  • Check my wallet – someone had re-paid me and I hadn’t deposited the cash ($30). This would then go right back into the budget giving me a bit more room.

Learning Curve

I have had to re-assess how I manage my funds and it has definitely been a process. After buckling down for a year and following a set schedule I’ve had a bit of a strange time adjusting.

I’ve been doing fairly well but the adjustment to using money when I actually have it has been interesting. For example, I had set a payment to be deducted the day before it was due. I realized that was just poor planning on my part so I fixed it. Sort of. Since you can’t adjust payments on my banking system I paid it early but I didn’t delete the original planned transfer.

So I’ve tightened my budget my already constrained August finances. This is sometimes the part where I hide a bit and try not to think about the budget. Instead, I took time today to download my bank information  and see where I stand. It turns out that somehow it’s currently coming out in the wash.

Here’s what my anticipated budget looked like with my actual spending beside it:

Variable Costs  Actual  Anticipated
Bunny 17.9 30
Eating out 79.54 70
Entertainment 70.84 65
Fashion 18.08 35
Gas 40.73 40
Groceries 102.87 $200
Misc. 123.16 80
Total $453 $520

Now, it would be easy for me to still overspend if I don’t adjust my anticipated costs to help guide me through the next two weeks. So I re-arranged finances so I feel like I’m not over budget in an area:

Bunny 17.9 30
Eating out 79.54 80
Entertainment 70.84 70
Fashion 18.08 20
Gas 40.73 40
Groceries 102.87 $200
Misc. 123.16 80
Total $453 $520

Now the only area that I’m significantly over is my Misc. Line. This is because the bill payment came out of here.

I thought I might feel a bit stuck looking at these numbers and while I definitely have concerns about stretching $67 over the next two weeks I’m not driving myself insane. Since I don’t budget with my actual income, I know that I’ve got a bit of breathing room if I do go over budget, which is looking likely.

Knowing that I’m only in this position because I double paid a bill, not because of reckless spending, leaves me feeling good about the rest of the month.

Now to make sure that Bunny and us are properly fed for the next 2 weeks on $67!

Do you have frugal recipes you’d like to share?

Checking In

I had done a budget session with an insurance advisor when  I was just starting to work. I don’t recall a lot about the meeting but what stood out was this line:

“Once I pay bills and look after necessities, I generally have $100 to play with.”

At that time I didn’t have bills and I had at least $200 to play with at this time. I distinctly remember wishing Neverland was real.

I’m thinking of that moment as I checked my budget today and was super impressed by my bank balance. Riches, I tell you!

Then I started transferring money to saving accounts, paying bills and tracking outstanding direct payments. My riches quickly dwindled into “don’t get ahead of yourself” territory.

To be honest, it was a good thing to see. It was a great reminder of the importance of my budget and how easily I can pretend that I have money rather than acknowledging that I’m holding on to it for a little while until I can exchange it for utilities and housing costs.

It also reminded me of how fortunate I am to have a job and paycheque that allow me to live the life I do.

 

February Weeks 1- 3

 

I came out of week 1 with a huge amount  left in my budget. So in week 2, rather than dip into my Fun Fund, I used my monthly budget for us to see Deadpool as well as attend a ballroom dancing event (where friends of ours got engaged). I also used the extra wiggle room to spend a bit more on groceries.

Even with all these extras week 3 began with a surplus of $5. Not bad at all! I was tracking to continue underspending until today. An opportunity came up to purchase tickets for Mama Mia in April at a deeply discounted rate. This was the first musical ML and I saw together on stage so we really want to attend. That’s the fee that sent me into the red. If I had not purchased those tickets I would still have increased my surplus budget while spending on things I hadn’t anticipated.

My week 4 begins today and because I had anticipated having a surplus I had invited a friend out for breakfast on this morning and another for tea on Tuesday. To keep within my monthly budget I have to decrease the amount I had planned to spend on groceries. Of course, my other option is to use my fun fund to pay for the entertainment opportunities that arose, which is exactly why I had created the fund!

At this point I’m going to continue spending frugally and see where my budget ends up at the end of the month. If there are extra funds I’ll have shown myself that I can have some pretty great experiences on a tight budget, if not I’ll use the fun fund to cover the applicable overages.

At this rate, even if I dip into my fun fund it will only be covering the cost of one of the extra activities. For me that’s a win!

How’s your budget doing in February?

January: Week 3 or the week I overspent

It was going well. My grocery bill was just pennies under budget, I had dipped into my miscellaneous fund for a few dollars and I was tracking to come in under budget. Then it happened.

I’m part of a committee raising funds for a local organization and at our most recent meeting we decided we should all wear themed items so we’ll be easily recognizable in the crowd. I was all for it as I saw the benefit of this idea. The downside is that I’d already budgeted for the event and had used the budget.

I asked ML to go shopping with me as I knew he’d help me stick to my new budget and get something fashionable.

“No more than $20,”I declared, ” all the things should be discounted now that Christmas is over.”

The first store I went to was sold out as the item I wanted was part of their Christmas stock, in fact all but one store was sold out. That store was charging $60! I knew I was blowing my budget but I still wanted to control the rate at which I did it.

One of the stores mentioned that a location one city over would have what I want. Desperate, and quickly realizing that in spite of not being able to walk into a clothing store in December without being faced with the item January was not so kind, I decided to make the drive.

Boy am I glad we did! The item was marked down by 70% and they only had one small left.

So I am over budget by 4% but I’ve adjusted the rest of the month in the hope that this hiccup will not throw off my careful planning.

 

January: Week 2 Down

This week was really quite good! I only used 75% of my weekly budget.

Planned Actual
Groceries 83% 52%
Misc. 17% 23%

The miscellaneous cost is my eating out: lunch with former departmental colleagues and tea with another colleague. The leftover 25 % is going to be added to the upcoming grocery budget.

Usually leftover money at the end of the month goes into a fun money fund. If it’s in this account I can use it on anything I like!

I’ve always wanted to learn to play the guitar. In fact, about ten years ago I was given a guitar as a present. I begged and pleaded for it, attempted to learn, didn’t have much luck and then kept it in its original box ever since. In January I got a flyer for a limited offer at a local music studio. The deal was you get a 3 trial lessons for $60 on an instrument of your choice. The Trial Lessons are usually $40/class so this is a huge savings!

Since I had fun money I signed up to learn to play the guitar. After one lesson I can now play This Old Man!  My fund won’t allow me to sign up for further lessons after the trial offer ends but my hope is that the trial lessons will give me the confidence to continue learning on my own.

 

 

 

 

January: Week 1 Down

The first week of January was interesting. I did stay in my budget numbers but didn’t spend the money the way I though I would. It was a bit of an eye opening breakdown since I thought I may be under budget this week.

Planned Actual
Gas 27% 25%
Eating Out 27% 50%
Groceries 33% 16%
Bunny 13% 8%

Since I stayed within my weekly budget I’m not going to get concerned but I am going to have to ensure that I’m not overspending as the month goes on.

 

December Week 3

I did my check on Sunday and I spent $16 more than anticipated. I’m feeling quite good since there were two items that popped up that I hadn’t been prepared for. The combined cost of those were ~$50 so $16 is a win!

When I did my monthly budget I gave every dollar a job but with my weekly breakdown I gave every job a dollar value. This means that there’s a bit of money that was not allocated so I would be able to indulge in impromptu get-togethers. Because I’ve gotten to know my lifestyle very well through tracking the ‘extra funds’ are mainly in the grocery and entertainment lines

I’m so glad I did this as my end of December is getting busy. I’m going to Star Wars, attending game night at a local cafe and we’re now hosting 2 small dinner parties.

Do you track your spending? What has it taught you about your lifestyle?

December Week 1 &2

I had stopped doing weekly checks because my life got a bit crazy and  I was  feeling overwhelmed with the Christmas spending.

In December I went back to my weekly budget list as a way to roughly allocate funds and keep me on track. Now that I’m using my credit card again I find this extremely helpful as each week I’ve got an idea of how much I should be spending,

Last night I sat down after dinner and spent sometime plugging in numbers again. It was  a wake up call as though I’ve been tracking my categories accurately I haven’t been great at making the proper transfers on time. I cleaned up that minor mess which was a bit sad as it meant that I had paid even less towards my debt in November than I thought.

With November sorted it was time to move on to December. I had budgeted for a host of things that I ended up not having to pay for but did spend money on some gifts for me as well as some of the ingredients that I had budgeted for later in the month. Even with these items that weren’t budgeted for in weeks 1 and 2 I’m still tracking to be a under budget.

I’m really thrilled with my progress so far in December especially in light of my spending in November.

Update on Posting and weekly check

When I first began I was posting daily and loved it. Unfortunately my posting has become sporadic at best due to the uptick in my work commitments. I love posting so I’m going to commit to posting on Monday and Thursday as a minimum.

So on to today’s post (let’s pretend it’s Monday):

I was off yesterday as I had accrued loads of overtime. It was absolutely lovely to be off on a Monday as I used the extended weekend to do some shopping so I could avoid the weekend rush. I made my list of items and compared it to the weekly budget I had created which was fairly good though I noted there were a couple items I forgot to add to the budget.

As everything was moving at a more relaxed pace I was able to make a note once I got back to the car of where my allocated funds were going. A few things came over budget and then there were the things I forgot to add to the budget (foundation is not cheap!). By tracking I was able to make a list at the end of the day and see how much money I’ve got for the rest of the week.

Let’s just say the anticipated spending and actual spending were vastly different. It’s not dire but it does mean that I’ve got to adjust my spending for the rest of the week. I’ve got 3 eating out dates that are going to need to be under budget so I’ve already gone online to 2 of the restaurants to see where I can shave a few dollars and still visit with my friends.

After skipping out on the end of October and seeing how bungled my finances got it feels good to keep a realistic eye on the figures again