Monday, December 2, 2013

A Look Back at November

This isn't about running, so feel free to skip if that's what you are hoping to see!

On my drive out to Moab, I was following a Twitter conversation about the decrease in food stamp allowances and there was a family that was outraged, saying that there was NO WAY a family of four could survive on a budget of $800 a month. I FIND THAT INSANE. Mainly because that's pretty much my take home pay every two weeks. Since it was the first day of the month, I decided for the first time EVER, to track all my spending.

For many people, it is probably not that complicated. You probably have a credit card and it would take about two seconds to track this. I'm already on a very tight budget and mostly use cash. So, where did my money go all month??? November is an especially interesting month to track since it's A's birthday month and when the holiday shopping season starts. (I had substantial "extra" income from my ex husband this month - he paid child support (!!) AND sent extra money for A's birthday AND money for me to buy plane tickets to go to/from Texas to pick up A).

Here you go:

Household Bills (Mortgage, Electricity) - $782.31 (My half)
Car (Loan, Insurance, NEW TIRES) - $684.50
Netflix - $8.27
Credit Card Payments - $295.08
Savings, Investments - $80.00
Insurance (Life, A's Health) - $129.40
Dad (I owe my dad money STILL from when I was unemployed, and he pays our family cell phone plan so that's included) - $100.00
Gym Membership & Childcare - $41.90 (My half - L and I are on a "family" plan)
Race Registration - 60.39
Groceries - $167.29
Beer (Both at the store & bar) - $43.12
Dining Out - $119.39
Parking - $115.00
Gas - $74.67
Haircut - $18.00
"Stuff" (This includes holiday shopping - which is DONE, A's birthday gifts and FOUR pairs of running shoes I got super cheap on clearance on Black Friday) - $478.10
A's Birthday Party - $146.66
Debit Card Purchases  (Most of this is airfare - me and A for TX and a flight for Tink) - $566.83

I cut up my credit cards about 2 months ago, so these were all CASH/DEBIT purchases - not one penny of that was charged.

Obviously I had some decent expenses that this month that I would not otherwise be having (Mainly the "stuff" category, airfare and new tires). I had a "bonus" third paycheck this month and a lot of money from my ex I don't normally see. With all that said, my normal take home is about 1/2 of what my spending for November was.


So fascinating to see where my money goes. I literally tracked EVERY SINGLE OUTGOING CENT. I plan on tracking for one more month since this was by NO means a "normal" month for me and I don't make nearly that much money, I just had substantial help from the ex-husband this month.

I realize putting this all out there is going to invite criticism, so I'm ready for it!

Thanks to Lisa, I am reading The Total Money Makeover, and while it does not contain any information I don't already know, it is a good refresher and a good reminder that money (or lack thereof) is a HUGE cause of anxiety and stress in our daily lives. Going cash only a few months ago was a HUGE change for me. For many years, I was "buy now, pay later" - which worked ok THEN because I had the income to pay it back... The loss of income from J moving out, the giant pay cut I took after losing my job of almost 7 years in 2010 has caught up with me. I accumulated some credit card debt over the summer - not even on anything ridiculous, just not wanting to skip things like going out to dinner, going out to lunch and running local races. The loss of income did NOT immediately register in my brain that I would HAVE to make cuts to what I was spending my money on.

The biggest change is going to be the big decline in racing, ESPECIALLY "runcations." The only traveling I will likely be doing after Tink will by the NYC marathon, for which I have GUARANTEED ENTRY!!

Are you on a budget? Tips? Suggestions?


  1. i'm a horrible saver, so even if I have money left over, I have a hard time putting it away. One thing that has helped me tremendously (if your work offers it) is I have a certain amount of my paycheck deposited into my savings automatically, the rest into my checking. Out of sight out of mind seems to work well for me vs. having to physically do it myself each month.

  2. Fascinating.

    I'm so nosy, so I can't wait to see what December brings!

    We are 100% cash/debit, all the time, so I rarely track stuff, because it's a giant pain in the ass. Lazy.

  3. I am a horrible saver, I always have good intentions but if the money is sitting in my checking account it will get spent. This drives my husband crazy. I tracked my groceries once when they were whining about food stamps going down. and without changing a thing I do I spent less than I would get if I qualified. Those people need to budget their food stamps better. It can be done. or maybe groceries are cheaper here I don't know. Yay for the shoes and extra money from the ex this month!

  4. S and I followed the TMM and had great success with it. Good for you to get a handle on your expenses.

  5. so so so bad with tracking expenses. I suppose it would be pretty easy as I pay almost everything electronically and use a debit card for grocery shopping. I do use the credit card too much and need to pay those off. I keep saying that every year and every year it still doesn't happen. Like you, it's not a huge amount but still stupid to carry that dumb balance. ok, you've got me on the right track again. I'm going to pay that card down this year if it kills me!

  6. My mom tracks everything she spends. She keeps a spreadsheet, and marks every single thing. Then she pulls out her receipts at the end of the month and balances everything. You'd think that would make me more responsible with my money...unfortunately, it has not. I'm in freak-out mode over my credit card balance these days. Maybe I need to set a "no plastic" goal for 2014.

  7. trying to combine comments so I don't completely blow up your email :) congrats to you, A, and L at the turkey trot!

    I don't budget. I suck at it. I had paid my cards off and I'm back in the same boat cc debt story as usual-auto charges to gym, home insurance, and a few flights purchased all hit at once. i know i NEED to be better about actually tracking it, I just don't. And I know I will spend a lot more next year trying to knock out some states.

    good for you for tracking it and figuring it out. I know that a lot of mine is booze and food out (comes with being single I think).

  8. Just a nosey question - How were you able to afford to travel so much to complete your fifty halfs in fifty states goal. You also traveled out of the country quite a bit. Just curious;;;;

  9. My sister let me borrow her "Total Money Makeover". I haven't finished it (I tend to start books and never finish them), but I keep saying I'm going to do the cash/envelope system every month...and then the month comes around and I don't do it! Maybe I'll make it a New Years Resolution.


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