Monday, February 20, 2012

Back to the Budget

Not one of my favorite things to do...
Photo by Stuart Miles

Tonight we finally got our act together and worked out… not so much a budget, but a map of where our money should be going.  I figured out one of the reasons I utterly hate looking at our finances on paper:  It’s completely stupid.  There’s honestly no reason on earth why we should be struggling the way we do.  Even with my own meager earnings, we should be getting all this stuff paid with room to spare.  I just don’t understand why it never seems to work out that way…

Well, that’s not entirely true.  There’s crap like the car repairs.  Plus, we always seem to be starting from behind.  But at least we can play a little catch-up – we filed our taxes and should be getting a little refund by the end of the week.  Nothing amazing, but at least enough to keep swimming for a while longer.  I’m really looking forward to the flashcards project payout.  That’s going to give us some really good breathing room.

One of the other things we accomplished with this was that I was able to see how much I actually need to make per day to stay afloat.  Once again, what gives?  I can do this, easily.  I don’t know how it’s not happening, honestly.  But at least I can have that number in my head every day so when I sit down to work I know what my daily minimum is.  I’m not going to count the flashcards project toward that minimum.  That’s going to be gravy, as far as I’m concerned.

I’m not going to lay our entire budget out for inspection; we do need to keep some things private after all!  But I wanted to at least show you our categories.  We haven’t yet set up the categories for things beyond the basics.  Most of our expenses really are monthly.  I didn’t set up an entertainment category, although we do have a spending money category.  Once we have this running somewhat smoothly, we are going to look at options for one evening out a month and hopefully a regular date night.

The budget categories:
  •  Rent
  •  Groceries
  •  Power
  •  Gasoline
  •  Water/Sewer
  •  Internet
  •  Emergency Savings Plan
  •  Debt repayment
  •  Cell phones
  •  Bus fare
  •  Taxes
  •  Spending money
  •  Netflix/Hulu

I should probably mention that I’m not counting things like insurance and such that come directly out of Gavin’s paycheck.  When we calculated our income, I only looked at the net that actually comes into the checking account.  The taxes category is for the taxes that I have to pay, since mine aren’t deducted automatically.

The next step in this process is going to be to track how much we are actually spending in each category to make sure the numbers are fairly accurate.  I think I overestimated in a few areas; groceries and gasoline come to mind.  I’d rather be over than under though.  

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