Tag: budgeting

May Budget Recap

May was a wake up call for us. Ok wait, that was April. May was a big learning month. It showed me how important it is to plan ahead for unusual expenses.

Even before we committed to following a budget, I had always loosely followed a budget of $600 for myself. I know how our family eats, what our needs are, and generally how much food I need to get every week. In May, Kevin took his vacation and was home for an extra week. When we were planning out our budget for groceries, I didn’t even think to add more to our grocery budget to compensate for him being home. Adding a week’s worth of food for a grown man makes a big difference to how much is spent on groceries! Especially since when he’s not here, I eat my meals a little bit differently. I find that I don’t cook as big of meals, we will usually eat something simple like meatballs and veggies.

We went over budget on shopping and eating out, too. Shopping included buying clothes for me and also buying stuff for Eleanor’s birthday and party. After years of buying whatever I want, when I want, it’s a little harder than I thought it would be to stop doing that. I think that is because in the back of my mind I know that we have enough to cover extra spending. Ten years ago I was more disciplined in how I spent my money, but with a little practice I know I can get back to not spending as frivolously.

We went over our eating out budget by $32. Part of this was due to the fact that after a very busy weekend, our dishwasher broke! And after spending all day doing a whole lot of work to see if we could fix it, we had to go buy a new one. So, I meal plan, right? Well if I’m not home to actually prep and cook the meals, then I don’t stick to the plan. And that’s okay. Sometimes our life is a little chaotic and we choose to eat out.

So also, our dishwasher broke! I have felt like this has been coming on for a while now, so I wasn’t shocked. And really, it could not have broken at a more convenient time as far as sales go. We got a really nice dishwasher for over $100 less than its original full price. Which is great because sales, and I really love love my new dishwasher! It has a half-load setting which is perfect for me since I run our dishwasher every night.

Although we were able to pay cash for the dishwasher, we don’t have an emergency fund set up. That is something we want to have and will probably get started with funding it in June. Right now we just want the basic emergency fund of $1000. I don’t think it will be hard for us to do this. I think we have never made any progress with a significant savings amount because we have never set a savings goal which allowed us to spend as much money as we please. And then we would be disappointed when we didn’t have enough left over for savings. What a shocker, right? lol!

I’m learning that it is true that I can’t just set my budget and then never look at it again. Every month is not the same so the budget for every month can’t be the same. With our first month of budgeting completed, I am so happy with all that we have learned and can do better with our future monthly budgets!

Budgeting and our cash envelopes

We have now gotten two paychecks since our decision to commit to a budget and this week we will get the third. Doing a budget and using only cash has been kind of underwhelming so far. I mean, it was exciting at first! We have a plan! We are gonna pay off our debt! But a written plan that is dependent on what will happen takes a little longer than two paychecks to show much substantial progress.

In fact, it’s a little discouraging right now because we are trying to be so focused on paying off our debt as fast as we can, we have set our “extras” categories seriously low. Starting out here is what our budget is for our variable expenses: Groceries: $600.00

  • Groceries: $600.00
  • Fuel: $400.00
  • Eating out: $100.00
  • Shopping: $100.00

We have a church tithes envelope and a miscellaneous envelope as well. Our tithes correlate to our income so that amount will always fluctuate. And we have no set amount for our miscellaneous category either. In April, when we first committed to a set budget, we had to renew the tag on Kevin’s truck so we created the miscellaneous envelope for that.

So far we are slightly over budget on groceries, I think this is because Kevin is home an extra week so I’ve had to buy more food to make up for that. As I type this out it occurs to me that maybe we can change our budget for groceries for this month. Ugh this is what happened to us in the first place to make us get serious about the budget. I’m pretty good at keeping our groceries at $600.00 but this month has a few different factors that I wasn’t able to plan for ahead of time. Not to mention we are still working on catching up from a missed paycheck in April.

Oh well, back to what I was saying. So basically how this has worked out is that Kevin has come up with the plan and told me what he wants us to do. Then I organize it all, write it all out as an action plan, and then we execute it! Kevin was able to come up with an accurate plan because I have loosely tracked our spending for years. Now we are working on learning how to adjust our plan according to any miscellaneous expenses that will be coming up and stuff like that.

Since we have always lived basically paycheck to paycheck, we are having trouble looking forward and planning for future expenses. We just made it work and somehow we always made it by. In April we experienced just how we were barely making it living that way. This has made our main goal to get rid of our debt. Since having kids, we have gotten a good little bit of medical debt.

I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me right now, but the amount is right at $10k. I sat down last week and listed out all of our medical debt so we could plan which amounts to try and eliminate first. Three of the amounts are each under $600 and we think we can pay off each of those in the next few months. In fact one is going to be paid off this Friday! And we might be able to pay off another small one by the end of this month. That’s our plan as of right now.

We did pay off our very first medical debt last week and that was super energizing. When I was organizing all of our debts, I noticed that we were paying $50.00 for something every month but I didn’t have the total amount we owed. I called the company and they told me that we had $27.12 left for that debt and I did a little happy dance as I paid that remaining balance. It was so fun and exciting to get one thing checked off my list even if it is a small amount. It was still a big deal and quick win to help us keep going.

Our plan is to use the snowball method to pay off our remaining balances so we will need to reallocate that $50 we were spending there to a different balance. It has been a busy few days since that happened so we haven’t decided which balance to put that towards. We are going to pay off our other balances for this month first and then come up with a new plan. So exciting.

As far as the cash budget goes, right now we are taking it paycheck by paycheck. So this means that with since Kevin is getting two paychecks a month, we get half of each category out of each paycheck. For groceries that is $300.00, for eating out that is $50.00, for shopping that is $50.00. Eventually I want to have enough of a buffer in our account that at the beginning of each month I can pull out the full amount we have budgeted for the month.

It is slow going right now and I feel like things keep popping up on us but I have to remember that we just started doing this and things won’t change overnight. Mainly because we didn’t get to this point overnight.

Cash Envelope Budgeting

We are still working on finding our footing with our budgeting right now. It is May 7, 5 days after pay day and we still have yet to go get our cash out of the bank for our ash spending. Life is hectic, we have a lot going on and oftentimes I feel like I can’t think straight. Three kids and all.

We went to the zoo last Friday and I realized that I didn’t have any cash in the eating out envelope when we stopped for coffee. At first I pulled out my debit card since I didn’t have the cash, but I actually felt a little weird about that! I didn’t want to use my card at all, I have realized that I much prefer to use cash. Luckily I had some in another envelope so I just “borrowed” some from that one. I wrote down the amount so I could be sure to replace what I took. I need to be more insistent on getting our cash for spending though, because I don’t want to get in the habit of moving cash around like that. I think it leaves too much room for messing up and losing track of our cash.

This afternoon I intend to sit down and figure out the amounts of cash I need to withdraw from the bank to get our cash budgeting system back on track. I really should have already made the plan ahead of time but this is only our second paycheck to do the cash budgeting so I’m giving myself grace. I did use my card the other day and it gave me a little anxiety to use it instead of cash so I really need to get on this planning bit.

I’m also wondering if I need to write down what we spend money on to track where the cash is going. As much as I would love to have that record, I think it may be unnecessary. But. With us just starting out trying to take control of our spending, it might be super helpful to see where we spend our cash. I use the Mint app and it does the tracking for me with my card usage and checking account usage. I can also manually enter in where all the cash goes. Maybe I will just track my spending using the app if I can be diligent to enter in each amount as I spend it.

Having a budget for our different expenses has already begun to make me more conscious of our spending. The other day we had the opportunity to eat at the mall and I told Kevin that I didn’t want to waste our eating out money on the mall. There are other places I would much rather go. I was so pleased to realize how having a budget and making the effort to stick to it has already changed my way of thinking!

Anyways, I can’t wait until we can start to see even more progress from these changes we are making. I really love that we are strictly using cash to buy what we want. Having the budget in place really makes me feel more in control of our money because I am paying more attention to where it is going and I can better keep track of how much has been spent and how much is left.

We’re following a budget!

April turned out to be a weird month and halfway through we drafted a budget for us to follow. Our purpose: get rid of all our debt, medical and vehicle. I’ve had a loose budget in my mind for some of our expenses that I can control, mainly grocery shopping and I’ve been tracking our expenses for years using the Mint app. Now, we have a true, pen to paper, written budget for everything we spend money on.

I’ve been obsessed with budgeting for years and I am super excited to put everything I’ve read about and learned about into practice. It is now May and I’m pretty pleased with how we did in April. I went over the grocery budget by about $15 buuut the charge didn’t clear the bank until May 2. So on paper I was under budget but I know I went over budget on April 29. I’m not going to get too caught up in that kind of technicality because 1) we are just starting out and 2) almost every article I’ve read cautions that it will take several months to get a good flow going.

I’m pretty glad that I have always had the Mint app running in the background because it was an easy way to track my spending which made it easier to come up with a budget fairly quick. My next step for May is to get a spreadsheet set up that will allow me to input our income and expenses to see how we should be doing at the end of the month. Also, I love spreadsheets so any reason to make another one makes me happy!

We have a huge expense due this month and it will basically leave us breaking even in our main checking for two days. And that is why we are deciding to start this budget process and make it work. There’s some large expenses that we anticipate to pop up every month for the next few months and we want to have a better grip on where our money is going. Having a budget will give us the control and knowledge of what we’re doing with our money!