Budget 3.0

This is me…after around two years of not truly budgeting my income. I used to be really on top of it…but then I stopped blogging, stopped focusing on goals, started acting like those around me (who had more expendable income), and to put it simply, was living beyond my means.

And looking at the last few months…I still am. So here I am making a new budget. My income has nearly tripled since I got a new job (yay graduating!)…but so did my spending. If I want to be able to crawl out of this hole I’m stuck in…first step is to stop digging. This is Budget 3.0. It’s not perfect, but I’m really struggling after falling off the wagon. Some refining will go down naturally…but, here we are!

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Recreating My Monthly Budget

There are many times in life when you need to reevaluate your budget. The first month after you stick to a new one, if you get a bunch of new expenses, if you pay something off, if you get a new job, etc.

Well, I got a new job and new expenses back in August and never reevaluated my budget. To be frank…I sort of went…budgetless. But, as all of you know, that isn’t really sustainable or healthy or any of that other good stuff. So I went through and listed all my expenses and debts. I then decided how much I wanted to put toward my debt (which was a little more than the minimum), and picked an amount for my savings account. I then went through and cut on my living expenses until I could make those goals. So here it is, the new budget:

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  • Utilities – 45% –This is composed of my rent, electricity, internet, and car insurance. These are payments I have to make and are pretty much set in price.
  • Living Expenses – 25% –This is composed of my phone bill, gas, food, and miscellaneous expenses. I consider these all living expenses because if completely necessary,  I can cut out my phone bill, reduce my gas and food intake, and eliminate miscellaneous purchases (within reason).
  • Debt – 27% –This includes my Discover Card payment, Care Credit payment, car loan (from parents), and private student loan. It’s more than the minimum for Discover and Care Credit because their interest rates are higher.
  • Savings – 3% –I know it’s only $40 a month, but I want to build some savings while still actually making more sizeable dent in the amount of debt I have. Until I get a second job, this will be all I can manage.

This equates $1200, which is approximately how much I make a month after insurance (health and dental) are taken out of my paycheck. Any excess will go into my savings account, and if I do get this second job, I’ll alter this budget further.

Catching-Up Part 3: Finances

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And oh how it would. June-August haven’t exactly been kind to my finances.  The addition of car loan payments, student loan payments, root canal payments, increased gas usage, and a crazy electric bill (crazy from the fuel adjustment) have been driving me up the wall. Not to mention applying (for the second time, even though the first time wasn’t processed) to my university + a late fee (that I was told about to the last minute).

Current Net Worth:  -$19,638.26

BLAH. This is as of August 31, so it does not include my possible student loan for this semester. I also did not include the worth of my car.

  • -$13,371.04Student Loans – Not as high as it was because I have made two months worth of payments of $154.62
  • -$3000Car – This is comprised of however many necessary worth of payments of $150/month to my parents (who took out the literal loan).
  • -$1878.63Discover – Mostly consumer debt.
  • -$1007Root Canal – This is to my Care Credit card, which I took out and used to get a surprise root canal (the best kind of surprise) back in July.
  • -$498 University – What I owe from a past semester for tuition
  • -$417.92 Roommate – This is for general supplies and pet deposit.
  • +$116.41 – What I have in my bank account right now.

The plan is to knock out $300 in car loan payments, $417.92 in roommate payments, $48 in Discover card payments, $36  in root canal payments, and the full $498  for what I still owe my university for a total of $1299.92 in planned debt repayment for September.

I think this pretty much concludes catching y’all up with my life for the summer. Now on to September and a great way to finish the year!

May 2013 Recap

Like I promised on the first, I do believe in the power of positive thinking, and I think despite some terrible things this month, my overall outlook on life and the things that I do and don’t have control over has definitely markedly improved. I am considerably happier with my life now and am starting to feel more assertive and confident in who I am, what I deserve, and what I want to accomplish.

physically fit

  1. Have a balance of $1800 on my Discover Card
  2. Pay $250 of the $500 I owe my university
  3. Have $100 in my savings account

None of those things were accomplished. I ended up being a few hundred dollars short of income this month because my grandfather died (and I had to take off of work – I don’t get bereavement or sick days or anything) and because I got sick. I also ended up driving home a lot more this month because of my grandfather’s illness and because my family’s German foreign exchange student is leaving tomorrow 😦 More about my budget is below.

physically ffit

  1. Lose 13 lbs
  2. Log into MFP every day and log all exercise/food intake
  3. Do purposeful yoga at least 3x/wk and the Sun Saluation daily

I logged in every day for about the first week. I lost 2lbs? I gained 4 during the month and then lost those and the additional 2. I wish I would have done more yoga – I find it always really helps to center me, but keeping my wits was about all I accomplished 😛 Next month, however, bf seemed okay with the idea of going to a yoga class as a date (I love them, but I can’t do it regularly at $15/pop).

pphysically ffit

  1. Finish the book of Matthew
  2. Read Millionaire Next Door
  3. Attend Stanford virtual finance classes
  4. Write 15 blog posts (min)
  5. Meditate daily

HA! I did accomplish some things this month!!! I did finish the book of Matthew. It initially reminded me of a lot of leadership development books I had read, but then suddenly at the end (during the crucifixion and when the parables started becoming really heavy) it got…stressful? to read. And I wasn’t aware that the books after that are also telling this story. I will throw this out here that I was not raised in the church and have been going since February with bf and his family (Episcopalian). His mother gave me a Bible and we met with the deacon of the church. He suggested I read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Honestly it was a little relieving to know there’s going to be more about the crucifixion. It seemed…like there should be more than 10 pages on that (not being flip). I did write the blog posts! I think 3/week is something I can comfortably keep up for now so that will become a standing goal. Meditating daily was something that tied with my goals of thinking positively. I did a lot of reflection and a lot of journaling this month, and it has really helped. I was able to confront a lot of things that were holding my relationship with bf back, and a lot of things that were just holding me back as a person.

Miscellaneous:

I heard back from the job (didn’t get it 😦 ), applied for another that was filled before I got to it, and I’ve applied to a third I haven’t heard back from. The wedding I attended was a ton of fun! I ended up getting a dress for it at Marshall’s that I can also wear to work or church, so I’m pleased with it (natural waisted and teal). I also got a pair of nude pumps from Payless Shoe Store. They work with pretty much everything I own, because all other heels I owned were actually giant wedges or were 4” high, so I needed heels that were work appropriate etc. And this also works out because I have another wedding to attend in June! Multi-purpose dress! Rock of Ages was pretty cool! It’s the second broadway tour show I’ve seen (the other was Wicked in Edmonton).

So what about my budget? 

This month wasn’t awful budget-wise, but with having to pay May’s rent, June’s rent, and a deposit this month, it made my “three paycheck month” actually not that great. In fact, since I got paid the 31st and will be using that money for June bills, I’m not including all that in here at all! 

May Spending Recap 2013

Total Income: $1226.40 + $98 transfer from savings & Total Spent: $1377.33 for net difference of -$52.93. That $52.93 would be from the interest + $24.96 that was $20 on gas and $4.96 on food all used on my Discover Card. 

  • Rent/Internet– $760 – May + deposit for the new house!
  • Discover & Interest – $76.93 – $49 minimum + $27.93 in interest
  • Electricity – $59.18 – This is actually a lot less than I thought it would be; however, I expect the one coming up to be higher
  • Gas – $139.04 – I’m hoping this falls in June back down to under $100 because I’ll be going home a lot less and found a more efficient way to come back from work.
  • Medicine – $26.87 – I’m hoping I get my insurance straightened out so this falls to like $3/mo.
  • Food – $110.50 – This actually isn’t terrible for one person I suppose. It also includes eating out.
  • Phone – $50.59 – This is standardized and auto-withdraws every month.
  • Miscellaneous – $154.22 – About $60 of this is the wedding outfit + shoes + 2 birthday presents, $50 is Pop-A-Lock (I am so displeased about that y’all), and the rest was cat food, a new bra, and kitchen supplies (trashbags, paper towels, etc.)

Reflection: 

I’m hitting the point to where I really need to increase my available cash, and the only ways I can really see doing that are if I decrease my spending or increase my income. After discussing my finances with others and looking at it on paper, the only way I could cut my spending is to do a complete spending fast…and to be honest it seems a little more doable if I could increase my income in some manner, so that’s going to be one of my big focuses for June.

I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money. – Pablo Picasso 

Save & Pay Plan

My morning generally includes something along the lines of 30 minutes to an hour of reading through posts of different sites I follow and reveling in their successes and learning from the tid bits they’re sharing. When it comes to the pf community I tend to circle around, a lot of the posts are regarding debt repayment.  I suppose it’s something I identify with somewhat because yes, I am in debt. And the more I see people paying off what they owe, the more I think “Why am I not doing that?” which caused me to reevaluate why exactly I wasn’t.

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So I went on a quest to figure out what my monetary priorities exactly are.

  1. Tuition for the Fall 2013 semester + $500 I owe my university – One of my big goals for 2013 was to graduate with no additional loans, so any time I think of a financial goal, my first thought isn’t “Pay off Discover!!!” it’s “Put away enough in tuition before my fee bill is due!!!” For a while I felt very guilty about this, and I honestly couldn’t tell you why. So the goal is to pay the $500 that I owe my university currently (so I suppose that counts as debt repayment too!) and $760 for my first tuition payment by August 8, 2013.
  2. Discover Card/Emergency Fund – The idea of not having an emergency fund at all is more disturbing to me than my DC balance. I know a lot of people may disagree with me on that point, but I’ve had too many emergencies arise in the last six months (replace all four tires, replace alternator, family illness, etc.) to be able to continue to live paycheck to paycheck with absolutely nothing in the bank. I will continue to make minimum payments on my DC at least through the end of 2013, and once my tuition is completely paid, start making more aggressive payments to have it finished off by the end of 2014.
  3. Student Loans + Interest – Once my DC is 75% paid off and my EF has a month’s worth of $ in it, I’ll begin to make more aggressive student loan payments (beyond the minimum). I know that the longer I wait, the more I will pay (in interest), but I would really rather build up my EF a  bit first.
  4. Big Purchases (car, computer) – As I mentioned above, there were a few large purchases that had to be made on my car, which has been ridden hard. My mom bought it used with the intention to use it to drive to work and back and make longer trips with while my dad used the truck to travel to and from work. When I went to Florida last summer, they lent me the car (my own actual car has a ~$600 repair sitting on it) and purchased a new one. I don’t anticipate more than a few years out of the car I am driving right now, and it was originally intended to be my younger brother’s…so the plan is to eventually fix my actual car. On another note, my laptop is about to start its fourth year of life. Between having access to my work computer and my smartphone, if my computer dies I could probably get along for a while without it (I mean, people have for years, right? Plus libraries do exist).

My priorities do not currently focus on obliterating my debts.

With this in mind, my goal won’t necessarily be to create a giant loan repayment plan, but a Save & Pay Plan. Half of my goals are savings oriented, the other half are debt-oriented, and with my current income (I did apply for another job, so cross your fingers!), I do need a highly detailed and controlled plan to guarantee I can accomplish at the very least my tuition payments. As I said before, I am finally caught up on bills (e.g. rent, insurance), so I can start planning ahead.

So full steam ahead on the Save & Pay Plan!

Budgeting is a lot of Work

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Well. I suppose that’s misleading. Honestly, my difficulty lies not necessarily in sticking in my budget, it’s actually been finding one that works for me. Since January, I’ve kept my Little Red Book.

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I guess the cover’s red & I’m in the red, so it’s appropriate…

Each month is divided into its own section that begins with a mini-calendar and a list of goals. Everything else after that is what I’ve been doing…or at least calling, budgeting. I list out what I make and then what standing bills I have to pay with that check. The leftover money is then allocated to X,Y, or Z. I work at a job with hourly pay and no leave, so my checks aren’t necessarily consistent. For example, this week I will probably have to take a day and a half off, so my check will be about $100 short. It’s hard for me to plan out in detail how my budget will work when I don’t really know what I’m making from month to month (especially because I didn’t start working 40+ hours a week until January). But by now, I can see somewhat of a trend; however, there are external factors (holidays off without pay, being sick, etc.) that I have to somewhat take account of.

So my usual process is: 

  1. Turn in my time sheet and discover how much I’ll make for that paycheck (which will be received in a week). 
  2. What bills are due within that two week period?
  3. Okay. “Set aside” the money to pay those bills. 
  4. Allocate appropriate amount into gas. 
  5. Leftover? Usually ~$50. And I’ve gotten to where I just don’t even really budget in money for food or miscellaneous, so I end up spending the leftover on that. And it’s not an unreasonable amount to spend.

I guess the problem with this process is that it’s not working toward getting me out of debt or building an emergency fund. Right now I am in full-on maintenance mode when it comes to money. Now that I’ve paid off my car insurance and rent and this month is a three paycheck month, I thought May might be the month in which I make all these grandoise payments…except that I forgot that the timing means that I’m paying for May and June’s rent as well as a potential deposit for a new place for next year…so essentially three month’s worth of rent in one. Yuck.

Another big issue is the way I’m employed. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it and am too lazy to go back and check, but I’m employed on a work-as-needed basis, which means no retirement, benefits, sick-days, holidays, vacations, or job security. Essentially, my supervisor could tell me today that she just doesn’t need me anymore and I would have no job as of then. This means that an emergency fund is something that I desperately need. Not to mention the fact that I go into forced loan repayment as of June. I have been applying for more secure jobs that will also provide the nonmonetary benefits that this one does (relevant experience, networking, etc.), but so far have been rejected. 

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That is the attitude I have had, but my actions have not backed this up enough. So now here’s to reevaluating my budget to actually include a set miscellaneous/grocery allocation and to at least have a set amount of $$$ I work within so that I can make my savings a priority. Right now it’s been whatever is leftover, but the goal is to set that aside first and then later any excess can also join it.

Essentially the progress I’ve made so far this year is:

Picture2And for me, considering I started the year owing my roommate almost six months worth of rent and my mom six months of car insurance, I think that’s pretty darn good! But. At this point, it’s not enough. Frugality isn’t enough if I’m still living paycheck to paycheck and more often than not have that horrible “Will I have enough gas to get through the week so I can go to work” thought.

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April 2013 Recap

It was definitely a month of showers. April was pretty much the worst month I’ve had since February/March of 2012 (which were “dumped in a bus station” bad). I didn’t really set goals for this month, but I guess I did accomplish a few things that fall under the three big categories. Other things that happened this month can be found here. I am determined that May will be a month of flowers!

physically fit

  1. My savings account now has $100! 
  2. I finished paying for my car insurance!

physically ffit

  1. I lost the 8 lbs I gained in March (from February) + 4 more for a net loss of 12 lbs! 

pphysically ffit

  1. Wrote 10 blog posts! 
  2. Signed up for a finance class through Venture Labs at Stanford!
  3. Applied for a new job at a nonprofit!

So what about my budget? 

This wasn’t a terrible month budget-wise, but my income was a lot smaller because I took off a few days + having Good Friday off, so I missed almost a week of work. I don’t get leave or holiday pay, so it was like a long weekend. But it was worth it. Even if it means things were tight. 

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Total Income: $1212.69 & Total Spent: $1291.39 for net difference of -$78.70. Yeah. I used my Discover card =/ but I did put $100 in my savings account, so I guess technically I have a net gain of $21.30. Though I shouldn’t have used my card. 

  • Car Insurance – $120 – I have officially paid my car insurance!
  • Discover – $80 – Kind of moot since I spent $50 of my limit this month. =/
  • Electricity – $62.37 – It’s getting warmer, so the bill is going to climb a little.
  • Gas – $143.51 – I went home four weekends in a row in addition to what I normally spend (home = $240+ mile round trip), soI spent roughly double what I normally do.
  • Medicine – $26.87 – I’m having insurance problems right now, so I’m having to pay for things like BC outright. It’s not a big deal right this second, but it’d be nice if they would sort out clerical errors!
  • Miscellaneous – $150.97 – This includes knitting purchases, girly purchases, and a purse that I bought for my brother’s gf after depositing cash in my account (since she doesn’t have a debit card).
  • Phone – $50.59 –  I finally called and figured out why I couldn’t access my account and setup autopay, which means I save $6/month!
  • Rent/Electricity – $385 – This is pretty much the same as it always is.
  • Savings Transfer – $100 – Yeah I put monies in my savings account!
  • CC Interest – $28.61 – Not in the chart up there, but that is included in my expenses. I did remove the protection plan fee from my card, so this is just interest…

Reflection: 

I didn’t really set budgetary goals this month, but I think I did pretty well. Only 12% of my expenditures were unrelated to bills or necessities (gas/food). I’m glad I ended the month 12 lbs lighter than where I started, and although April was icky and terrible, I’m looking to put my best foot forward into May. As Thoreau says:

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”

And I don’t.