I have tried budgeting a dozen times in the last few years, using several apps and online programs (all free, of course). Nothing really compared to me writing out a budget by hand! I am frugal by nature, so when I had to physically calculate the numbers and write out the totals of how much I spent on Dunkin Donuts (my biggest vice so it deserves some color 🙂 ) or snacks on campus when I had food in my bag…it hit me that I’m only sabotaging myself.
It’s less clinical than letting a computer program or app calculate it for you and simply write the number on your screen. For all your brain and heart know, that number is as real as Monopoly money.
I wrote out this budget based on my very basic necessities from June. I wasn’t going hog wild in June with shopping trips and dinners out, but I did enjoy a day of (mostly) window shopping at the mall with my boyfriend, B, and buying gifts for Father’s Day and my sister’s birthday this month. I definitely went over this minimal budget, but only because I had an unexpected medical bill arrive just before my vacation. To read more about my vacation, see “Why I Let Myself Spend Money on a Vacation Now.” To see why this medical bill wasn’t an issue on my small budget and income, read “$1,000 Reasons to Have an Emergency Fund!”
The state of my current financial union is (drumroll please!):
|Expense||Budgeted Amount||Actual Amount (to date)||Balance|
|Family Cell Phone||$126.50||$126.50||$0.00|
|Emergency Fund Deduction||$0.00||$100.00||***|
|AS OF TODAY||$1,155.89||$1,259.70|
|LEFT TO SPEND||$96.19|
*** These were “just in case” funds that I had left over after reaching my $1,000 emergency fund goal. That’s why I did not budget it, but I was okay spending it on that pesky medical bill! I normally don’t move funds like this but did so to stay on budget this month ***
The good news is, I’m under budget!! I have $96.19 left in my budget to spare, only because I haven’t spent from my car expenses category. I filled my car up last in June, and while I was on vacation last week my mom borrowed my car and refilled the tank as a thank you!
The reason why “car expenses” isn’t it’s original $100 for the month still is because I went a little over on a few categories…not really out of lack of control. I didn’t know I was going to get a medical bill for $102.75 before vacation, and for my sister’s birthday she wanted to go to a museum (and I got a discount rate and only paid $4 for admission!). I also went $3.12 over my vacation budget; this was less than I paid in any tip to a server so I am really okay with this!
I found $6.06 in my PayPal account, just sitting there feeling neglected (I totally forgot it was there), so I deposited that. I also used the $100 that I had extra in my emergency fund to cover the great majority of that surprise medical bill. All in all, I am still $96.19 ahead (net). Normally moving money around like I did this month would cause a little anxiety…did I mess up somewhere? Did I miss an expense? But I double checked my numbers and everything came out the same…and no anxiety! I’m pretty proud of that!
I will have to fill up my gas tank at least twice more this month, but gas at most is $26.50 per tank for me with current prices. I work two days (12 hours shifts) this week and 32 hours over four days next week; the back-and-forth will take a toll on my gas levels and I would rather not let the meter get to “E.”
Note: I did not include a “Food Expense” on here as I receive $75 a month for odd jobs and my family coordinates and buys in bulk for my parents, my sister, her husband, their daughter, and I. This helps alleviate costs for us all and if I want snacks or to eat out I put that in the “Personal Expense” column.
Have you had experience with unexpected bills that caused your budget to temporarily go haywire?