Just thought I’d check in with my financial progress for 2012. In my mind, every little step is progress, even though I haven’t made my “major” changes yet. My first goal was to observe my monthly spending for January. Well, I did it! (Man, it was tough. You’d think jotting everything you spend down would be kind of…well, child’s play. Not so much.)
I was surprised by several things – some good, some bad. Otherwise, and generally speaking, there were some purchases that were made that I wouldn’t call “monthly” (more like once in a lifetime…or once every ten years – like an ottoman purchase), but I seem to have some sort of purchase as such every few months or so, so I included it in the chart. There are other areas that, some months, get more cash put towards it (such as the “Pets” category) – but not this month. Then there are the stationary ones – such as the Visa bill, which never gets added to and always gets paid automatically every single month. The “can always depend on you” bills that will be AWESOME to finally pay off.
What shocked me most, though, was the clothes/home goods/gifts chunk. I don’t BUY clothes that much – I just got a few maternity items. So, much of this was actually purchased for home projects from Lowe’s (and that $179 ottoman from Target didn’t help, either). Secondly, while it doesn’t LOOK like much, our eating out is crazier than I expected. It really makes me think…and think…and think…until I will inevitably change, change, change. 🙂
My groceries are mad crazy, too, but I already knew that. I’ve already set a new goal for myself to get it down to a) a twice-a-month shopping trip, b) for a certain set price (ie such-and-such amount for the month, divided by two), and c) in cash. Let’s just call it getting closer to living simply on cash. Technically, I do that now, but I don’t consider a debit card technically “cash”. It’s still plastic, and it’s still a co-dependent tool towards self-ignorance. There were years that I shunned owning one…man, what happened?! So, anyhoo, it definitely does makes me go through the “I’d like to get that, but…” thought process on pretty much every purchase. Oh, and I’m going to try to go back to an Aldi/Hannaford symbiosis – what one can’t get me healthily and cheaply (ie Aldi’s bananas or all-natural juice or awesomely delicious, cheap hummus) the other will provide. Spending $20 in one place and $60 in the other is fine, especially with how much $20 gets you!
Oh, and I figure this will help provide an economic stability when looking at the grocery budget +1. I’d like to keep the budget at the same amount, actually – totally crazy? Maybe. I’ll adjust as needed, of course. No amount of pride or strictness to self-induced life rules would keep our kid from gaining proper nutrition. You can’t complain with TRYING out a budget, though.
Some surprising “good” pieces of the pie? My “entertainment/phone” (really just my Verizon and Time Warner bills) amount is tinier, by comparison, than I expected it to be. I guess that whole going cable-free thing is workin’ for me. Oh, and the avoidance of purchasing a smartphone, let alone any phone with a data plan. We’re not proud…although, in this case, we totally are.
Cash withdrawals were actually, again, relatively small. That may be shifting, especially when I’ll be using the money to purchase other pieces of the pie (groceries, etc). And, come to think of it, the cash advances went towards certain pieness, as well, so it probably shouldn’t even count. But it does, and I’m pretty happy with it. Always like to have some cash in the ol’ wallet. You never know.
So, there it is – a pretty disjointed (but what blog post isn’t?) public display of…well, pie. What’s next? I’m trying to analyze what parts of the pie are necessary (car, mortgage, etc) and what can be shaved further (groceries a tad, home stuff definitely, etc). And that’s where I’ll leave ya.
Any random budget suggestions that you think we all should know? What works for you? Do tell!