I haven’t quite gotten to the point in budgeting yet, where I am actually sticking to a budget. But similar to my success with food tracking & losing weight, it seems that simply by tracking where my money is going, I am spending less in the ’empty’ type of categories (ie takeout) and feeling a lot less guilt about where I have spent my money.
February was a super confusing month to record. I was away for almost half of the month (10 days) and received my Federal Tax return, which was extra paycheck. So while my pie chart looks super impressive, since I saved 40% of my income, its only because for the first time in 5 years, I didn’t have a car repair or property tax bill to pay.
My goal for February Financial goals were:
- Decrease Clothing Spending to 10%
- Reduce my margin of error
- Increase savings by 5%
It is a bit difficult to see on the chart, but I did reduce my error this month, although I still had $20 I couldn’t figure out where it went. The other two goals are a bit harder to measure since my income was higher than usual. I spent $222 less on clothing this month ( January was a bit crazy!).
We are a few days into march and off to a bit of a rocky start. I’m hoping that by publishing this post, it’ll help me get my head back into the game.
I am nowhere near an expert in any areas of budgeting, but I thought I’d share my current fixed items. I’ve worked hard at cutting these down to the bare essentials, which included a lot of evaluation of essential and luxury items.
- Housing / home insurance
- Having somewhere to live is clearly essential. I could potentially save even more here if I took in a lodger, but I fail to see how it would positively impact my life in any other way. I do own my house & live very much within my means in terms of cost
- Gas/ Electric (technically a variable cost, but I have to pay it each month so….)
- There isn’t a lot of control over this as I am on the grid but I keep my home at 65 most days in the winter (cooler when I am away) A possible investment would be a programmable thermostat so the temperature could drop more overnight, but really 65 seems to be my happy place. My National Grid bill ranges from 55 – 120 each month.
- Cell Phone
- I left at&t after almost 9 years and joined T-Mobile. It cut my cell phone bill from $100 to $77 by switching to Tmobile. With T-mobile I have unlimited data. With the unlimited data, I was able to cancel my home internet & cable and simply use my cell phone as a hotspot. (and an antenna on the window for local channels) That 20 dollars plus the 80 from canceling Verizon Fios left me with over $100 bucks! Last week my boyfriend and I combined our Tmobile accounts for a $ 100 a month for 2 unlimited lines, so my future cell phone/internet bill should be $50 +taxes
- Car / Insurance
- I am driving a lovely 2007 toyota corolla. I still remember the day I brought it home, 10 years ago. Its possible Little C -2 ( its my second corolla) will see her final days sooner than later, but she is cheap to fill up and to insure.
- Loan Payment / Personal Debt
- A major reason I’ve decided to buckle down on my finances, aside from it being the cool thing to do in your early 30s, is that I am able to see the other side of the debt tunnel I had created in my 20s. I spent the past few years building myself to a place where I could move forward. I started by eliminating credit cards for a year. The following year I tried to pay them off, but the interest rates were just so high that finally I consolidated and created a personal loan. At current writing I am 10 (hopefully less) payments away from being debt free.
Although I am still in the early stage of creating a budget and finding the best way to organize my money, I am quite proud of my sleek fixed costs.
What are some of your fixed costs?