Budgeting: Month 1

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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 MINTย 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 ย 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!ย 

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19 responses »

  1. hey girlie- sweet post…a few things I’ve started doing for a budget…..

    There are two websites for budget info if you feel like spending money use: http://www.youneedabudget.com/?gclid=CIXNgIqYmKwCFYuC5QodP1J9Ow I’ve been told it works WONDERS…. but why spend money to show you were to save money?

    Also look into: http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/personal-budget-spreadsheet.html just simple excel spreadsheets, this is what I am going to use for November and Mint.com as well.

    In regards to books – check these people out – http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php?_ads=Twitter&c=Profile

    Twitter book club?! WHAT!? Info please!

    • Ah thank you so much for all these links! I’m going to take some time to check them all out ๐Ÿ™‚

      And yes, Twitter book club! There’s a Goodreads group set up right now where we chose our first book & we’re having our first chat at the end of November. If you want I can send you the link to the group, just reply me on Twitter (@melissaa24) and I’ll send it to you there!

  2. I think I need to do this for the month of November. Just track what I spend and where I spend it. On the whole, I’m better than I was. (Mainly because 95% of my check now either goes to my mom or to my bills, ha!) But I need to get better at saving and better at NOT USING MY TARGET CREDIT CARD. Ugh. Ever since I paid it off, found out it’s better to keep it than get rid of it, I went a little overboard. My plan that I can use it but I HAVE to pay it off the next month. So next month is going to hurt. A lot. Bah. That’s what I get! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m not sure if I have any tips because I’m just as green (ha! Get it? Green? Money? Cracking myself up over here!) at this as you are. Maybe we can hold each other accountable? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • LMAO good one ๐Ÿ˜‰

      The thing with my credit card is that I can tell myself NOT to use it, but as long as I carry it with me I’m a victim to it’s powers (er, that sounded weird). I’ve left it at home since the beginnng of October and only used it ONCE (had to dig it up) on Nov 1st to buy my new bus pass. It saved me SO many times in October to just not have it. I was at the mall last week with my friend and only had my debit on me… It meant that I couldn’t shop because I just didn’t have the money. I recommend you start leaving that Target card of yours in a drawer somewhere until you reallyyyy need it ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I think overall I am pretty good with my money, but it would be good to track it more accurately and really know where my money is going…. I am using MINT and I think it’s a great tool. Did you know that you can add purchases that you made with cash later on to account for the money that you took out of the ATM? I think that could help with your overall tracking.

    I am really good at making lunches. I hardly ever buy lunch at work (unless we go out for a group lunch). Sometimes I am disappointed when I read about “budgeting tips” and I am like “well, I am doing ALL THAT already. What else?” ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Good for you girl! I wish I had the same sense as you to just MAKE all of these things work. I’m good at the theory, but when it comes to putting it into practice I’m like ugh. I wanna spend. It’s a work in progress though, and hopefully each month I’ll get better & better! The lunch thing is definitely #1 on my list. i spent WAY too much on food because it all looks so yummy ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  4. i am super bad about eating out. i’ll bring my lunch to work and STILL decide to go out. the best budgeting tip i’ve read (which i’m terrible at putting into practice) is to take out enough cash for the things you need for the month (food, coffee, books, whatever) so if you run out, you’re just out. (you’d use your bank account for bills,etc) then if you feel like you want to take out of your coffee fund for a book, so be it.

    as for christmas…this year i’m going to try to do as much crafty/diy stuff as i can. there are plenty of ideas on pinterest and other sites where you can repurpose old stuff or get cheap stuff somewhere and make it cute. i have a lot of girls to give presents to and i think this is a good place to start. (plus, it’s way more thoughtful.)

    • That is a REALLY good idea about DIY for Christmas. I’m not the MOST crafty person & I’m also rather awful with time management (I shop in the last week leading up to X-mas. Bah!) But maybe this year I can start to think ahead.

      Thanks for the comment, you’ve given me some things to think about ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I can vouch for making yourself lunch – I have to do it since I’m gluten-free and it saves a lot of money. It’s so easy to forget where your money is going. Have you heard of Dave Ramsay? He’s big here in the states for budgeting and all that jazz. His methodology is to put all of your paychecks into cash, since cash is more “emotional” to use than swiping a card (it’s the opposite for me, but whatevs). He may have some good resources for you.

    • It’s so hard to NOT buy books! For some reason I just can’t help myself. I can only imagine what us book-a-holics (that’s what I’m calling us) do for the book industry!!

  6. You’re doing great just getting a plan in place girl – well done! Stick to your plans and you’ll make some real progress. Have you thought about alternatives to sandwiches if you really don’t like them? Wraps, pasta salads, cous cous etc?

  7. Budgeting is hard work. I am terrible with money and creating a budget. I’m just really careful about what I spend and where I go. Lucky for me, my town in GA is lacking in just about everything so I really only spend money on groceries, rent, bills.

    • I’m almost jealous of your living situation, if only for the fact that you’ll be able to save money because of it. That being said, I SHOULD be able to find the willpower to just save. There are so many things I want to do in life that require MONEY, I need to learn how to save it instead of spending on useless stuff.

  8. I used to be so bad about books, but lately I’ve been focusing on picking up books at the library. Seriously with reserving online, I’m able to get some great books that have been on my ‘To Read’ List’ forever. I’ll definitely have to try out TheMint.com to budget as well. I got a $300 traffic ticket that caused me some drama this month. Yikes.

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