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?