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Busted Budget???

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With the chaos of the move and settling in to the new place, I kind of let my budget get away from me this month.

I’ve found that, in the past, I do BEST when I have a concrete budget on paper before the month begins. Then I can reference it and know, “Oh, I’ve still got $X left for groceries” (or clothes, or household, or whatever else).

But when all my office stuff was in boxes and I was busy trying to unpack and get situated…..I just kind of “bought.” It wasn’t like I was out buying with reckless abandon or anything. I was still trying to be frugal and mindful to only buy basic necessities and not a lot of extras.

Even so, I finally got around to balancing the budget and….it’s not so pretty.

In my “household” category (which was only budgeted for $100), I’ve already spent $370. YIKES! I swear, I didn’t even realize the number was that high! Again, it’s not like I was out buying anything crazy. I needed a couple new waste baskets (I get the cheap $1 ones for the bedrooms, but I got a $30 for the kitchen), shelf liner for the kitchen cupboards,  a small $20 tool kit, some supplies to connect the washer and dryer to the water and gas lines (my Dad generously gifted the washer and dryer themselves, but I still needed some tubing and hoses, etc.) You get the idea – just your basic run of the mill we-just-moved type of stuff.

The problem is the budget was already stretched thin. I’ve tried to reallocate some funds – reducing the funds that had been set aside for exercise (races, yoga) and clothing and moving those funds to the housing line item of the budget. But even with all my tinkering, I’m still coming up $81 over budget. It could be worse, but I’m still pretty disappointed. I was determined to make the budget BALANCED, so I’m not too happy that my very first month living alone it looks like may be a failure in that regard.

I’m going to try to see if I can make up the money. I do still have $106 left in my grocery budget. It would be tough to make that stretch, seeing as its only the 11th so we’ve still got 2 and a half weeks left of the month. But maybe if I can squeeze $50 from there (leaving me with $56 for the rest of the month), then I’ll only have a deficit of $31. And then I can try to squeeze that from somewhere else. I mean, I’m really grappling with pennies over here, but I’m pretty determined to somehow make this work.

I’ve already pre-made my entire October budget so the budget is completely balanced AND includes some savings for an EF, semi-annual fees, and care/repair maintenance. So it’s not impossible to have a balanced budget (and even put some aside in savings), but it definitely will take some intentionality and a close eye on every outgoing penny. I’m going to give myself a little grace given that I literally moved on September 1st (it would’ve been tough to keep the household budget to $100 given the circumstances), but I’m bound and determined to try everything within my power to get it at least to even for this month, and to have some savings stocked away for next month.

What do you do if you need to make a quick $80 (and/or save it from another category of spending)? Would you sell some plasma? Sell goods on Facebook Marketplace? Or find ways to cut back from other budget categories?


No Spend Week

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This week, I have officially declared a No Spend Week!

I get paid on Friday and, although it’s a 3-paycheck month (woohoo!!!), I’m really trying to tighten the purse-strings, in general. Also, the recent A/C outage made it painfully clear how close to the edge we’re living in terms of our finances and I am really craving the financial security of having a little Emergency Fund.

I just got back into town after being gone at a work conference. Luckily, all my major expenses were paid by work (lodging, transportation, conference fees, and breakfast/lunch were provided by the conference). But I still had to pay for my own dinners for 3 nights in a row and though I kept my spending pretty minimal, I was really hoping/trying to cut my eating out budget this month. Being gone and forced to eat out for 3 nights (plus airport lunches during travel days) puts a wrench in that whole plan.

Thus…..the impetus for a No Spend Week.

No Spend Week Rules

I am allowed to spend money to pay for our normal bills (e.g., electricity, water, etc).

I am also allowed to spend money to pay for our scheduled debts (e.g., our due dates are this week for the IRS, 1 credit card, and Navient).

I am allowed to spend money for required transportation-related expenses (e.g., I’m almost out of gasoline and will need to refill before the week is up).

I am NOT allowed to spend money on anything else. Period.

That’s easier said than done. Especially given that I’ve been out of town for 4 days now, and we could desperately use a trip to the grocery store. Even so, we have a lot of food in our pantry and freezer and I know that if I get creative I can piece together some yummy meals for the family.

Looking Ahead

This month is projected to be pretty good on the financial front. Not only have we gotten some of our spending in check, but we should even be able to save up a decent amount for an EF. The third paycheck certainly helps, too, but I’ve got specific plans for it.

I put together a budget for the immediate future/moving forward. I know it’s desperately overdue. But I’ll leave you in suspense for another day (or two) and just tell you to check back. It will be up soon!

~Ashley