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New month, new budget

March 1st, 2007 at 06:02 am

After discovering my electricity bill was 4-times what I'd been expecting, I finally picked myself up off the floor and resigned myself to paying the bill in full (of course). There is definitely enough in my checking account to cover the electricity bill, but I did find I had to juggle around my usual money-allocating plans. As nerdy as it sounds, it was actually sort of interesting. Each month, I typically put $500 into my roth IRA, and then $500 into various investment accounts. I'd already done that, so the electricity bill will get paid off by my "bonus" money- rebates and bank bonuses- which I'd been hoping to put towards something more fun....but the bills have to be paid first. Thus, the kitchenware I'd been planning to replace will have to wait.

Wow. Money maturity moment! I am able to plan for my expenses and shift spending to make I avoid debt and pay off bills in full. What an "adult" thought! =)

Future gazing

January 29th, 2007 at 04:58 pm

Months ago, I thought my goal was to own a house by August of 2007. Now it seems my mind has changed. Argh! Why is it so hard for me to make financial plans? I keep saving for "it" but I haven't identified what "it" is. I'd been stashing my savings into easier access money markets and CD's, because I'd anticipated needing to make the large down payment on the hhouse this summer; now I want to start putting more money into my long term accounts- the Roth IRA, brokerages, 401K.

If I had a crystal ball, I'm sure gazing into it would be like trying to peer through swamp water.

It's so easy to say, "I need to pay my car insurance now," and then reallocate funds to pay it off in one quick payment. Or I can think, "I'm going to take a vacation in three months" and then I start up a short term "vacation fund." Short term goals are a cinch, but long term goals? Since "House 2007" seems to be falling through, should I just rename it "House 2008" and try to shape my savings plan around that?

Budget Time!

January 7th, 2007 at 12:20 pm

After all those years of being satisfied that I'm able to tie up loose ends and pay off monthly credit card statements, rent and utilities, I finally sat down with my Quicken software and designed a budget. Hey, might as well take advantage of Quicken. I don't even have the current fancy schmancy version, but boy, was my 2004 version good enough for me. I am a visual person, so the ability to graph my monthly expenditures was well worth it. By further breaking things down by category, I finally got a grasp on where I've been spending all my hard-earned money.

Well, no big surprise, Rent has been the big money-sucking monster, accounting for 50% of all expenses. Close behind that was auto, which included fuel, insurance, and repairs. But one big eye opener was how much I've spent on groceries. Last year, I spent $1900 on groceries! Now for the first half of last year I was living with my at the time boyfriend, which would explain the ~$150/month for groceries, but sadly, in the past few months where I am living single (Sept-Dec) I have still been spending more or less $150/month. Part of it was due to the restocking of pantry supplies, but to be honest, my grocery bills have been going up because I've been buying more prepared foods, out of convenience. Ai ya!! *slap on the wrist*. But something I can work on.

Another unexpeted budget buster has been clothing. I spent $100/month on clothing, accessories and cosmetics last year alone, and let's remember, I was in grad school, not exactly the most glamorous of positions, for half that year. So now that I'm working in the corporate world, where appearances matter, I am worried that expense may start to creep up.

But with the power of Quicken I was able to keep track of my savings. Even more encouraging was to see the rising trendline of my net worth over the years. I was impressed to notice it has more or less increased by $10,000 with each year, even throughout grad school, when I was living off the modest student stipend. Hopefully I can continue that upward trend!

Budgeting isn't always fun, but I'm glad I went through with it. As silly as it sounds, it really feels like a rite of passage of sorts....my journey into adulthood, ha ha.