Budget Busters: Mid-Month Assessment

by jolyn on January 18, 2010

in On Budgeting

At the beginning of January, before The Hubs left on his deployment, I made up a budget for January based on known expenditures for the month.

A few things have “come up” since then. *ahem*

Have I mentioned lately that this budget thing is still a work in progress? Baby steps, people.

Is It Possible to Budget Every Single Penny? I don’t think it’s possible to have a crystal ball and know absolutely everything that you may or may not need to spend money on in a given month. HOWEVER. Putting it all down on paper and doing your best to create a zero-based budget at the beginning of the month goes a long way to knowing how you’re going to reallocate funds for those unexpected expenses that do come up during the month so that you can keep on track to achieve your financial goals.

Whew!

Think of a Budget as a Money Positioning System, or an MPS* (Get it?)

Think about how you use your GPS: You get in your car and plug in the address of your destination. Along the way, you realize you need to stop for gas. Then there’s construction and you’re forced to detour. Maybe there’s an accident along the road and traffic backs up. It may take you longer to reach where you’re going, but eventually you will get there.

Imagine never plugging an address into your GPS! What if you just got in your car and started driving around, with no real idea of where you were going? Oh, you’ll end up somewhere all right! But it probably won’t be Disneyland, or any other place you’d like to be, had you taken the time to think about where you wanted to go before you ever left the driveway.

*I have to give credit for the MPS idea to Suze Orman; that’s a funny I heard her use on her show.

Our Budget Busters This Month (so far):

I kept track of every single transaction that has come up so far this month that wasn’t included in our original budget for January. My hope is that, in a few months, I can look back and see how much better we have gotten at this budget Thang.

It’s also very humbling to try to justify every thing we spent money on that wasn’t planned for in advance. Makes you think twice before handing over that debit card…

(Yes, we’re moving to cash, but in increments. Baby steps, people.)

DEBITS: Bills…

  1. $108.54: I underestimated the power bill, despite our freezing temperatures. Whoops.
  2. $39.43: We’re on the hook for the power bill at our rental house until we’re able to procure new tenants. I totally forgot about this.* At least it’s not so cold in Vegas!
  3. $8.00: Another rental expense — one of the association fees went up. I guess I missed that memo.
  4. $7.28: And yet another rental expense! This one for the water bill. Also forgot to factor that in.* Yes, water is cheap in Vegas. As in, the desert. Go figure.
*This is the second month without tenants in our rental. Obviously, I will be remembering these bills for next month’s budget. Unfortunately, so far we are getting ZERO interest from prospective tenants. (Anyone wanna rent a cute little house in Vegas?)

DEBITS: Purchases…

  1. $62.59: Home Depot… The Hubs decided to do some last-minute, much-needed work in the bathroom. (Oh, boy, is that a future post.)
  2. $23.98: Three days before The Hubs deployed, Alabama played in the SEC Championship Game and we decided to splurge for pizza. The Hubs has been a Bama fan since he was ten. Need I say more?
  3. $2.76: I finally found some Fels Naphtha bars of soap at the third place I looked, and I really didn’t care to leave the store without them just because I forgot to take cash out of the grocery envelope before I left the house. I still plan on making laundry detergent from scratch! I’ll be letting you know how that goes. (I do include cleaning products in my grocery budget.)
  4. $8.52: The Hubs and Conner enjoyed some time at Panera Bread the day before The Hubs flew out. I guess he forgot his cash.
  5. $50.00: computer maintenance.
  6. $40.36: I’m just going to call this “Deployment”. It includes purchases made right before, during, and right after his trip from Ohio to Kyrgyzstan. Of course these debits were justified, and difficult to plan ahead of time. One of them was purposefully made at the BX on base as a test for us to see how it would go through. At this point, it looks like there is no “foreign transaction fee” for purchases made with a debit card on base. We do plan on him mainly using cash that he withdraws on a monthly (or so) basis, but it’s vital that he has other options that we know work. We hate the government credit card that they encourage you to use. But that’s another post.

TOTAL DEBITS: -$351.46

CREDITS:

Yes, credits, too, can be unexpected!

  1. $60.00: A refund for a pay-pal tranx that The Hubs was double-tapped for last month. I was expecting this to come through, but I wasn’t going to include it on the budget until the money was in-hand, so to speak.
  2. $16.87: Consignment check from the Thrift Store. I actually didn’t expect to see a profit this month. (Do you consign? That’ll be a future post.)
  3. $9.27: AT&T bill I underestimated. Not sure how I managed that.

TOTAL CREDITS: +$86.14

Budget Buster Bottom Line: -$265.32

That $265.32 up there? Will be deducted from what we will pay down on our snowball this month. Bummer.

At the beginning of January, I estimated $1749.76 would go toward debt. Obviously, we’ve already encountered some speed bumps. We’re still on our way! Just not quite so fast. Two weeks to go! Naturally, I’ll be letting you know the final tally, so stay tuned.

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Budget-Busters: The Final Tally
February 1, 2010 at 7:48 am

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