My Precious Pennies

I will be AWAY until late February as we do this moving thing...again.

Ginger from Attention Target Shoppers & Tricia from 1stopmom
will be holding down the fort in the meantime - thank you so much, ladies!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Budget Update

We're on a very tight budget, and I like to know exactly where every single penny of our my husband's hard-earned money is going, so I've developed a budget spreadsheet in excel with a spending log. I also recently edited it as part of the declutter challenge with categories that fit our expenses better.

This month's budget has been blown completely off track due to our abnormal income and abnormal spending. This is due to the fact that we received our settlement check from the moving company and have begun replacing our damaged furniture. However, thanks to my handy dandy budget spreadsheet, I can see exactly how much of this abnormal spending is actually due to furniture replacement, and it does not completely account for the fact that we're $330 over budget and we still have 11 more days in August.

I have identified three trouble areas for us this month. The first is our eat-out expense...we're $80 over in this department, and this has got to stop. The major reason was that we had a lot of busy days unpacking the house, but that really is no excuse. I should have been better prepared and had more instant food or frozen pizzas on hand.

The second is our gas money fund. I'm starting to think that I had set an unrealistic goal in my budget. I allotted $80 for gas each much, and I reached this figure by figuring that we'll go 500 miles in a month, get 25 miles to the gallon, and have to buy gas at $4. Well, we get around 29 miles to the gallon, and gas has been $3.79, so I think the problem lies in the fact that I did not set a realistic mileage goal. When I first created the spreadsheet, my husband wasn't around and I had the car all to myself. I only left the house maybe twice a week to run errands, whereas now my husband drives to work everyday. I will go back to the drawing board on this one and come up with a more realistic figure for next month.

The last trouble area that we have is my "Steals & Deals" fund. This is money for my CVS and Walgreens trip - basically any purchase that I just can't pass up because it's such a great deal would come out of this fund. I also count my PaperBack Swap postage expenses in here. Well, this month I've spent close to $100. Granted, I expect to be getting $30 back in rebates, but $70 is still way too high of a figure. $20 of that came from the fact that I forgot my ECBs expired during the move, and went ahead with my original deals anyway. I got back $39.27 in ECBs/coupons from that $20 OOP, but that is still too high. We've spent $30 sending out books via PaperBack Swap, and while it's true that we've received triple the value in books, we really need to watch our spending there. I just have to start being really careful with spending money on "steals & deals". It's not much of a steal or a deal if it's sucking up $100 of our budget.

There is one area that we're doing really well on though...and that is my grocery/commissary budget. Our allotment is $50/week, and that covers any and all things we get at the commissary, excluding the bi-monthly bag of dog food and any diapers we get. We still have $77 left in the budget, and only one grocery trip left in August. I am SO proud of ourselves for being able to keep to this budget, because it has been a serious problem for us in the past. We've managed to do so well in this category by shopping with a menu plan and a strict shopping list. There are NO impulse purchases at the commissary anymore. I also take full advantage of the commissary website to see all of the sale information and match them up to my coupons before we hit the store. Not only has it saved us a lot of time, it has also saved us a lot of money. We used to spend $150 every 2 weeks for 2 adults, and each trip took us 2 hours. Now, we spend less than an hour and $50 shopping for 2 adults and a baby.

Our first priority is our fast-food spending, because there really is no excuse for that. The other two problem areas are somewhat minor, considering a lot of the "Steals and Deals" money is from rebates and a one-time CVS expense, and the gas was due to a miscalculation on my part. It is very encouraging to see that we're doing so well with our grocery budget, and it gives me hope that we will be able to cut our spendings in our problem areas.

No comments:

Custom Blog Design: Blogger Boutique