A Budget – for November

So, my money has already been dispersed and is being used up for October (oh the “benefits” of getting paid once a month), but I sat down and finally put together a budget that I’m happy with to implement starting November. It is one that I can live within, pay my debt, and still have spending money – a feat I didn’t think I’d be able to achieve! I will probably adopt a similar, modified version of it for the remainder of October. But for now, this is what I have:

I’ve color-coded the entire thing so that you can see which account each expense will come from. Essentially the only reason I have the Chase account is to deposit my tutoring checks I receive. Otherwise I use BofA to pay bills (no ATMs in my state) and ING for regular expenses (because there are no overdraft fees). Also, I should note that my “main job” income is the sum of the amounts in the BofA account, Chase account, ING checking and ING savings – these values just represent how I plan to allocate the money among these 4 accounts through my direct deposit at work.

Things to note about this current budget:

Monthly Savings

In addition to saving $100 per month towards my Emergency Fund I’m also creating a basic savings account for non-emergency expenses. These include yearly expenses (car registration, Christmas, ect) and things like unexpected medical expenses (to avoid what happened last month with my Urinary Tract infection which “stole” so much of my money and wasn’t budgeted for.

In graduate school I would have had separate envelopes for each of these expenses and simply put the physical “$20” or “$10” in the appropriate envelope. While this worked in theory, it took at least a year for each envelope to get fully funded and often when the expense came around I had the account only half funded. So I ended up still having to absorb a lot of the cost in my monthly discretionary money – which defeated the whole point of the envelope system.

So rather than using an envelope system, I’m setting up one yearly account where everything will get “lump summed” and $140 deposited monthly into it. Then if any expense arises that needs the funds (like my ACS renewal for instance) – I can pull up to $5 x 12 (or $60) out of the account to pay for this expense. Essentially “borrowing” from the other funds knowing that I’ll still be contributing to the ACS fund each month and thus returning the money to the other funds that got borrowed from.

I think this will be a “clever” way to avoid the sticker shock of yearly expenses like vet fees and car registration, without having to save up for an entire year to get the full benefit from it. Can you guys think of any other yearly expenses that I might be forgetting or numbers that I might want to adjust (though keep in mind I need to stay at $140 total).

Discretionary Spending

First I just wanted to note that it was completely intentional that my money from the community college will go to pay for my discretionary spending in the month (food, toilettries, ect). This is because of how the paydays are scheduled. I’ll get to start out the month with the first $196 from my primary job paycheck. Then the next week I’ll get a deposit of $226 from the community college and then two weeks later another $226 paycheck. So at no point during the month should I be thinking “Well crap, I’m poor for the rest of the month” – because it shouldn’t be more than two weeks before I get more spending money.

For instance, in November, I’ll get my first paycheck on October 31st, then the second on November 6th, then the third on November 20th. It is a very nice way to spread out the spending money so I don’t “accidentally” spend in all in one week or anything.

Currently there isn’t a lot of wiggle room in the budget. I have allocated $80 to transportation, $180 to care for Jack, $45 to dog food, $40 to toilettries, and $300 for food. And that maxs out my budget, there is a $3 difference between what I’ve budgeted and what I make in regular income. So there isn’t room for gifts, clothes, or random expenses like that. Hopefully most of that will be mitigated by the monthly savings program. However, I would like to have a LITTLE more wiggle room – of at least $100. And this is where the tutoring money comes in.

You may have noticed that I haven’t included it in my budget – neither my Tutor.com income or my “real life” tutoring. And the simple reason for this is that I can’t budget what I don’t know I’ll be making. So I’m assigning absolutely no purpose to how I spend this money. I can use it as my “free money” to pay for entertainment, clothes, gifts, whatever I see fit. Last month I made $235 from both of my avenues of tutoring, so it isn’t like I’m skimping on anything. Regularly I can expect to make at least $40/week from tutoring during the school year, so this is more than enough to use as my “fun money” for the month.

Other Minor Points

Just some other things of note: 1) this budget assumes that I have cancelled my cable TV; 2) this budget assumes that I don’t go over my minutes on my cell phone (hasn’t happened in 2 years); 3) this budget assumes that I stick with a $10/day budget – which I think will be completely reasonable; 4) this budget assumes that I’ll be teaching at the community college, which will hopefully also be the case in the Spring – but will not hold up in the Summer when tutoring will die down and my chance of teaching will be practically zero.

Any Comments?

Have I left anything out? Are there any glaring problems that you can see? I obviously still have time to iron out some kinks before payday comes around, so I’d love to hear your suggestions.

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10 Responses to A Budget – for November

  1. Some yearly expenses that I have: car insurance, renter’s insurance, and personal property tax.

    It looks pretty good to me. Just don’t forget to cancel the cable!

  2. Vnss says:

    What’s your $10/day budget for, food?

    • SS4BC says:

      Yup, $10/day for food on average – or $300 for the month. Obviously on months with 31 days I’ll be “short” $10, but on the whole $300 for a month is easier to budget than varying it every month depending on the number of days.

  3. BDO says:

    Looks great to me. You have some savings, you have some paying off of debt, and it is all balanced. My only oversight would be the planned gift slush fund for all those anniversaries, birthdays, and graduation gifts that are “required” by social norms. Keep up the good work! I look forward to further reflections on your financial marathon away from debt.
    http://blog.beatingdebt.org/2009/01/06/gift-spending-plan/

    • SS4BC says:

      To be perfectly honest, I haven’t bought an anniversary present or a graduation gift – ever. I buy birthday presents only for my dad, sister and “significant other” (if they exist), however because of how my dad and sister fall I usually lump them in Christmas (my sister is 5 days before Christmas and my dad is in January).

      Perhaps I should throw maybe $5-10/month at a gift fund but I rarely find myself buying gifts. I’ll have to consider this a little further I suppose. =)

  4. Jessie says:

    I think it looks really well thought out – I second the comment above that you may want to consider a gift fund. I didn’t see entertainment on their either – but I read below that you’re going to use your ‘unplanned’ money for entertainment. That sounds likea pretty decent solution.

    Will you try to keep track of where your spending money and then post a follow-up to see how you did with staying on track?

    • SS4BC says:

      Now you’re asking a LOT of me Jessie. 😉

      We’ll see, such a follow up post wouldn’t happen until December since this is the budget for November.

      I know that some people are big on gifts, but to be perfectly honest I’d say I haven’t spent more than maybe $40-50 total on gifts (excluding Christmas) in the past 7 years (each year, not total), so I don’t really see that being much of an issue for me.

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