In the beginning of October I wrote a post about one of my 101 goals; making a budget for school and sticking to it. I’d like to think of this month as a TEST month because I was only somewhat careful & I really just wanted to start tracking my spending habits to see where my problem areas are.
The first thing I did when I wrote that post & read all your comments was:
a) Put my credit card in a safe place in my room where I would not be able to use it. This was a priority because I’m way too dependent on that card on a daily basis & I didn’t want to be tempted to use it constantly. I wanted to use either cash or my debit card so I could actually track my dollars and only spend money that I HAVE. This would be simpler because I pay my credit card as soon as I get a paycheck, and my savings get automatically taken out of my account before I even see the money.
b) Create an account on a budgeting website where I would be able to track my spending and actually create budgets for myself in different departments. I used http://www.mint.com which has been working really well for me so far. I don’t use it as much as I should, but I started by splitting up how much money I would allow myself to spend in each category that I created.
Here are the stats from the month, according to my MINT online budget account:
1- I spent 75$ on concerts, which is exactly what I had budgeted for. I went to two shows and they were accounted for.
2- I spent a LOT of money at coffee shops. My debit card says I spent 62$ which is already more than I had budgeted, and that doesn’t include the cash that I took out of ATM’s and spent around school as well. I wasn’t able to properly keep track, but I know that it was significantly more than that.
3- I spent about 40 dollars at restaurants where I budgeted 60$, so that’s not awful. As I mentioned in my original post, I want to be able to go out every once in a while and treat myself!
4- I did not buy any DVD’s, which is something I thought I would do. Hallelujah!
5- Okay this is the bad part. I spent somewhere between 100-150$ in books. THAT IS BAD considering I didn’t want to spend ANY. To be fair, I had a pending Amazon order of 40$ that I was expecting, but I am guilty of picking up at least FOUR other books that I probably didn’t need, as well as a couple magazines. Oops.
6- This is another bad thing, but I spent a RIDICULOUS amount in bank fees. I didn’t renew my student account because I’m incredibly lazy, and I have an awful habit of taking out money in ATM’s that don’t belong to my bank which is an additional 3 dollar charge each time. I lost an easy 50$ because of this.
Here’s what stood out for me. First, I spend WAY too much money on food while I’m at school. This really struck me the last two weeks because I don’t bring a lunch with me and I really, really should. It’s just so easy to pick up something cheap on my way to class, but what I noticed this month is how fast that adds up.
I buy way too many books, and I didn’t even REALIZE I was doing it. How on earth did that happen?
Just as I had hoped, half the money I made this month went to paying off my credit card debt. If I continue on that path, it should be entirely paid off in… 3 months. Except Christmas is right around the corner and I’m really not sure how to factor that into my budget.
I would like to save more than I am currently, and I should be able to do this if I just spend less money on food and books. I really feel like I DON’T spend a lot of money when in reality that’s just because I don’t make a lot of it.
Moving into November, I need to set a few more budgeting goals for myself, and there are a few things I’m currently doing that I’d like to change.
A) Under no circumstance will I purchase a single other book, except the book being chosen for the Twitter book club. ONE BOOK. THAT IS ALL. Please hold me accountable, bloggers. This is important. I have an addiction.
—–> I’d like, if possible, to start using my library card again. Why did I ever stop? I have a lot of unread books but if I want to read something else I can either borrow it from work or from the good old library.
B) I’d like to start making lunches for myself to go to school. I really hate sandwiches, but I think I can bite the bullet for a little while and pack a few snacks too. The ONE thing I’m allowing myself is ONE coffee per day, and nothing fancy. This should cut my spending by a lot if I can just stick to it.
C) I liked using the online budgeting tool, but I didn’t find it accurate enough to track all the money I was spending. I’d like to try tracking my spending by HAND for the month of November to really see where my money goes. As of November 1st I’m going to keep a budgeting journal & update at the end of the month on how that worked for me.
D) Figure out how on earth I’m going to afford Christmas
Clearly this budget is a work in progress. I am a spend-a-holic (I just made that up) and it’s tough to break some of my spending habits. I’m trying though and I’m really going to do my best here. I want to get to a point where I don’t worry about money and I want all of this spending stuff to just be second nature for me. We’ll see how November goes!
And as always, if you have any advice, tips or tricks that work for you- please share!