Budgeting in February = FAIL

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

So I am going to go ahead and call our first attempt at budgeting a FAIL. Ha! Since January was more of a "spend and then see" month, I was hoping February was going to be the month where we did a little better in the areas where we realized we were spending too much. In some areas I think we did, but in others, we didn't blink again. DOH!

Observations/Notes for Month Two:

  • I am very glad that we started this whole budget thing early because it's clearly going to take a few to get used to and get the hang of.
  • Just like January, we had a few changes that happened in February that took a little to get used to or wait to see the affects of (for example, getting my yearly raise, had to wait to see what that would look like and what that meant for my paycheck each week, etc).
  • We ended up with a little extra income in February but not much, partly because we overestimated some of our "extra" income, but ended up getting some more from selling my piano.
  • We had a few big expenses again in February, some of which we were planning for, some of which we knew we would transfer money for and some of which we didn't plan but decided to go for anyway (which is why I am calling it a FAIL for this month).
  • As far as our expenses went for February, here is a breakdown of  how close we were to our estimates...(although this is probably WAY boring for you, it helps me figure things out in my head by going line by line...). :)
    • Mortgage / Rent / Etc- Exactly what we expected. 
    • Dog Walking/Sitting - Actually spent less than what we budgeted for.
    • Cell Phone - This was something new. A long story but basically we are switching from our family plan to an individual plan on a different carrier for just me. Since Wes got an phone through work, he uses that more often than not, so it didn't make sense to keep our family plan. It was a little more expensive up front since we had to cancel early, but this will help lower our monthly payments in the future.
    • Credit Cards - Overall we came out pretty close here. I'm not going to break these out but basically we paid a little extra on some to get them close to being paid off, and some we had estimated more than we had to pay because of paying off more in January. In March, it looks like we are going to be able to pay several off completely!
    • Car Payment / Insurance - Exactly what we expected.
    • Tolls (EZ Pass) - Budgeted $50, only had to renew once for $25.
    • Gas - I think because of all of my extra doctors visits, this was a little higher then normal, so we ended up over our estimated amount, but not by much, so not bad!
    • HOA Payment - Exactly what we expected. 
    • Home Phone/Cable/Internet - About $15 higher than we budgeted for.
    • Daycare - Exactly what we expected.
    • Groceries - About $30 more than we budgeted for.
    • Pet Wellness Plans - Exactly what we expected.
    • Gas & Electric - About $4 more than we budgeted for. Ha!
    • Netflix- Exactly what we expected.
    • Student Loan - Exactly what we expected. 
    • Parking & Costco - No parking or Costco expenses for March! Woo hoo!
  • As far as our "unplanned expenses" went for the month, based on January, I put together a budget for these as well for February...which I guess technically means that they are no longer unplanned. :)
    • We had another unplanned vet bill because Shamus needed two rounds of antibiotics and we found out Arby is beginning renal failure so is now on prescription cat food.
    • We also spent some money for Jackson's room and the playroom which we were expecting to do, but didn't necessarily budget for.
    • We still have medical bills rolling in from my late sonograms in 2010 when we were under my insurance.
    • The two last categories are where we can make a big difference I think, and those are eating out (including weekly lunches) and general purchases. Out of our "eating out" line item, over half of that was spent on eating lunch when we didn't get to make lunch the night before or have time to get it ready in the morning. We also spent more in our general purchases than I had budgeted for.
Lessons Learned from Month Two:

  • I still need to take better notes on the general purchases that we do and figure out the best way to handle these type of expenses where its easy to spend money that you don't budget for. Maybe once we establish our budget for the month, Wes and I take out cash to spend for the month and when it's gone, it's gone!
  • The more flexible we are the better! I think this is something that is going to change on a monthly basis, for example, things like raises (Wes's will come this summer), or changes in daycare costs (we have a big update there to come at a later time), etc. So having a tool that is easily changed and updated really helps keep track.
  • It's also been working well where at the end of the month, I take a few minutes to print out our bank statements and go down line item one by one to make sure I caught everything. Although this takes time, I find that there are always a few expenses that I missed during my weekly checks.
Notes & Changes for Month Three:
  • There are a few increases that we need to watch out for in March like the final Sprint payment on top of our first AT&T payment, daycare costs will go up for the month of March specifically, swim class for Emma potentially, and we really don't know what having a baby is going to do to our monthly expenses with this new insurance!
  • I seem to be doing a pretty good job at the estimating part (so at least that part isn't a FAIL) but now we really need to concentrate on what a budget is supposed to do, help you cut back. So now that we know exactly where we are spending our money, and can pretty closely predict what's going to happen next month, we need to actually work on reducing those monthly expenses (which is the hard part). :)

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