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Wrapping Up December

December 30th, 2012 at 07:53 pm

This will be the first month I post actual numbers admitting how much we stayed (or not) within budget categories. Primarily because, to be completely honest, this is the first month I've even really looked at it that way. I have tracked my spending for a long time, but it was always more of an after the fact thing that just gave me a fuzzy idea of about how much we were spending in a given area. (Or how we had screwed ourselves once we were already screwed). We sometimes said things like "money is tight right now, so we should try not to buy anything we don't really need for a few weeks". But we did not say things like "We've already reached our entertainment budget allotment for the month so I guess we can't go see that movie we had wanted until next month."

Our new budget is still a work in progress. This is only the third month of our Total Money Makeover (TMM) and we're still kind of getting the hang of this. I haven't gotten a good feel yet for what the normal fluctuations are in certain categories, and although I very much want to set some goals, I'm unclear in some cases of just how to go about making it somehow be less than it used to be. And the month of Dec., with all it excesses and celebrations, is not a great month for learning about things like that. But I think Jan. will be. And I think we've make some headway none the less.

In a previous post I reported the entire budget, including fixed expenses. Here though I'm only going to report the things that were more discretionary (i.e. the ones we are more directly answerable for). So here goes:

Groceries $1,117 (spent) of $1,250 (budgeted)
Gasoline $208 of $270
Misc $686 of $500
Gifts $638 of $700
Auto Repairs $993 of $0
Leaf Service $0 of $150
Entertainment $235 of $250

Overall: $235 under-budget (not counting the car repair which came from the emergency fund)

And now, my assessment, though feel free to chip in with your own...

We came under-budget in our totally ridiculous grocery budget! Woo hoo!! Okay, so *maybe* that's not really all the impressive. Especially when you consider that that budget amount was set when I was still including some misc household purchases with our groceries, and I have since changed that. And on a related note, you may also notice that, lo and behold, our misc budget goal was not met. But, you will also recall that this past week was the first time we dispensed with our more expensive grocery delivery service to shop at our local super store instead. Additionally, both holiday baking and my daughter being home from college for the month have added to the bill. Plus there were 5 grocery days this month instead of 4.

Whatever, I could go on and on. But the main point here is just that next month should be better now that we are shopping in person rather than though a delivery service. I will be lowering this budget category next month but also raising the misc one a little now that we have shifted our expense accounting. May need another month or so to see how it all washes out.

Gas: Lower than expected again. I ended up not having to pick my daughter up from college at the end of the semester. Also, we don't travel nearly as much as we used to given we are spending less on entertainment, and a car repair we had done in late Sept. seems to have done wonders for our gas mileage as well. Additionally, the price of gas is pretty low right now. We are trying to help my daughter out with expenses over her break by allowing her to drive our vehicles to work without paying for gas herself since she is saving for college, so that will raise it some. Though at the same time, hubby has had time off for the holidays so that lowered it. But we had no problem meeting this goal this month and I think I will lower it a little more next month again.

Entertainment: We were a little under budget here again this month and if it had not been for the holidays, I think we would have spent quite a bit less. I have gotten a lot of negative comments about this budget of our in the past being very high. Perhaps this is one of the areas we are spoiled from our past life. Compared to our spending in this category before our TMM though, we are now spending less than half of what we used to and are getting more comfortable with further reductions. As mentioned before as well, quite bluntly, my husband is the main problem here. He has *mainly* been on board with this debt reduction plan, but he has limits to what he is willing to put up with and still be that way. Long story short, I may be able to reduce this a little more next month, but its near the bottom of where its going to get to I think.

Gifts: Ahh, Christmas. Thank goodness it only happens once a year! We did stay in budget, though party only because we had a $100 gift card we used as well. We didn't break out credit cards or anything though. Even despite not finding out until a month before hand that I would have a major loss in expected income this month, and also despite the huge unexpected car repair you see as well. In thinking over how we used to do things, I feel this Christmas is a win. In the past, we certainly would have gone further into debt this month, rather than continuing to make slow headway. I'm glad we're starting to get our priorities strait.

Auto Repair: Clearly we broke the bank on this one given we hadn't budgeted anything for it. Though even if we had, it wouldn't have been as much as we needed cause I think that is the biggest car repair bill I've ever paid! As discussed, it cleaned out our emergency fund, which we are now working on rebuilding. Someone make the comment on one of my blog posts that I didn't have to follow Dave Ramsey's $1000 emergency fund rule if I didn't feel comfortable keeping that little on hand, because personal finance is, well, personal. I liked that. And when we do come into some money this winter with our tax return and hubby's bonus, we will need to think long and hard about what we feel is best to do because I'm really not liking this current situation at all. Especially given that we are imminently in need of a dryer repair now as well. But that's a story for another day.

And finally, Leaf Service: We totally rocked on this category given that we didn't pay a thing! Mainly because, as suspected, he forgot to invoice us again. Too bad, so sad. Now that we've survived Xmas though, I am going to call and let him know that. He's a good guy and I wouldn't want to short change him. (Though seriously, he really needs to work on that.) Before people get all hot and bothered about this category again, please remember that this was a service we signed up for before we started our TMM. We are not currently getting it, but the prior work does need to be paid for. We have not yet decided what we will do this coming summer. There are a number of things it will depend on. And I will be willing to take more comments on it then. Wink

In the next couple of days I will post our new budget for Jan. taking this assessment into account. This was predicted to be the hardest month of our TMM debt reduction plan though, and it's now over. We made it. And in another couple months the real progress will begin.

1 Responses to “Wrapping Up December”

  1. LuckyRobin Says:

    You never know what your husband may decide to budge on later down the road, either. If he starts seeing more of the benefits of the way things are now being handled, he might decide it's worth it to take another $100 out of the entertainment fund or the grocery budget. With my husband he sort of had to see how things were going to benefit him. By cutting back in one area it might mean something better in another area. My husband likes going out for the really good steaks, so I learned how to cook them exactly the way they did at the steakhouse. Instead of paying $60 plus tip for a meal I could cook the same food for $30 and we have it restaurant style, tablecloths and candles and soft music and the lights low. Then on occasion if I have extra in my allowance envelope I'll treat him to dinner at one of the steakhouses we used to frequent once or twice a year instead of every month. I don't really do too much with my allowance money (he spends his fast) so it builds up. I enjoy it for the night and DH feels pampered.

    Anyway, you've made some babysteps this way, but I always say babysteps will still carry you forward.

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