Tag Archives: budget

Budget Check Feb 1 – 15: $3608.12 (YIKES!)

I’m going to start checking in about my monthly budget half-way through the month in order to figure out what sort of money I have left to spend on things.

Smart, eh? Yea, I know.

Oh thanks for the recommendations about my bf’s gift in my last entry. I’ll be buying him something in a week or so (can’t afford to now anyway) so keep those recommendations coming! ThinkGeek.com is good start. I never know what computer stuff to get him. He doesn’t have Apple stuff yet, so I can’t go that route (tho he’ll buy a Macbook Pro as soon as they release an updated version). He has tons of computer stuff and I just have no idea about what he needs and what he’d want. Oh, food for thought to all of my fabulous gift recommender’s – he loves, loves, loves anything that’s blue.

Ok, without further ado… my poor budgeting for the 1/2 month leading up to today.

Total Spending feb 1 – 15: $3608.12 (YIKES!)

I thought I was over spending this month. I definitely did not realize how much!!!

A lot of the $ has to do with finally getting around to paying late fees on a variety of bills. I also had a little shopping spree this month, which you’ll notice below. It was all at a designer discount store! I even returned some of it!!!

—————–

$1050: Rent
$404.86: Medical
$403.95: Car (three months insurance + gasoline)
$80.28: Phone
$737: Investment / Savings/ Taxes
$345.40: Food – dining out ($87 of this will be reimbursed)
$31.31: Food – groceries
$10.71: keep the change “savings”
$483.53: Clothing & Beauty (incl. hair/waxing/dry cleaning)
$32.46: Entertainment
$28.80: Taxes

—————–

Breakdown…

RENT – $1050
$1050: rent

MEDICAL – $404.68
$146.68: doctor’s bills / medical
$258: Check for AETNA medical insurance

CAR / AUTO – $403.95
$200.6 Car Insurance (dec/jan)
$34.02 gas/auto
$87.34 car insurance (feb)
$50 – gasoline / auto
$10: check for parking ticket #1
$21.99: Gasoline

PHONE – $80.28
$32.46: phone charger
$47.82: verizon bill

INVESTING/SAVING – $737
$100 Investment into Mutual Fund
$600 Transfer to ING Direct (savings) for Tax Season
$25: transfer to prosper account to lend
$12: investing fees

FOOD/DINING OUT – $345.40 ($257.88 after reimbursement?)
$52.72 dining for two – food
$3.50 food
$13.85 lunch for two – food
$2.34 food
$44.87 lunch for two – food
$3.65: food
$28.35: dinner for two – food
$87.52: Pizza for my cast (to be reimbursed?)
$42.68: dinner for two
$5.36: food
$8.39: food
$5.94: food
$30.47: dinner for two
$14.69: breakfast for two
$1.07: food

FOOD/ DINING IN – $31.31
$12.94 groceries – food
$8.25: groceries, food
$10.12: groceries – food

KEEP THE CHANGE SAVINGS — $10.71
$.79 keep the change transfer
$.53 keep the change transfer
$.06 keep the change transfer
$2.35: keep the change transfer
$3.35: keep the change transfer
$2.19: keep the change transfer
$1.13: keep the change transfer
$.31: keep the change transfer

CLOTHING/BEAUTYBUYING — $483.53
$362.58: clothing (returned much of this purchase)
-$255.43 clothing returns (I returned this much and bought the above shirt)
$124.47 clothing: one BCBG sweater (on sale) and earrings
$20: Eyebrow Wax / beauty
$78.20: dry cleaning
$81.19: two shirts – clothing
$96.34: one shirt – clothing
-$23.82: macys returns

ENTERTAINMENT – $32.46
$26.48: magazines / books
$5.98: check for magazine subscription

TAXES – $28.80
$28.80: check for 2002 taxes. Uh, a bit late on that.

New Budget, Now That I’m Making $$$

New Budget

5200

$1300 ING Savings For Tax Account
$300 to ING for Emergency Account
$300 to ING for Grad School
$200 to ING for House
$300 to Sharebuilder / Investing
$200 to Roth
$100 HSA
————————————————
$2400

$1050: Rent / Utilities
$71.33: Cable/ Internet
$48.33: Verizon Phone
$128: Health Insurance
$138: Car Insurance
$100: Gas
$27: Gym
——————————————
$1562.22

=

$1237.78 left for…

food/clothes/car/fun

$400 food / vitamins
$300 clothes / tech
$200 gas
$150 gifts
$100 dry cleaning
$50 laundry
$30 charity
——————-
$1230

Now am I forgetting anything?

——————————-

At the end of the year, from my ING tax account I will pay my taxes. I should not spend all the money on taxes because I’m “taxing myself” at a 25 percent rate for all the money I make, but in the end all my money will not be taxed at that rate.

Any extra money is going towards a Digital SLR camera!!!

Budget – Fixed Monthly Costs

Since I’m oh-so bad at not racking up random late fees on things, here are my fixed costs
and what they should cost me each month:

$1050: Rent / Utilities
$71.33: Cable/ Internet
$48.33: Verizon Phone
$128: Health Insurance
$138: Car Insurance
$100: Gas
$27: Gym
——————————————
$1562.22

Total Set Monthly Income (actual, not dreamed)

$3700

Have to put 25% of that into taxes savings account…

$925 into savings account.

Leaving $2775 for monthly spending
MINUS
$1562.22 of fixed costs

——————————————–

That hypothetically leaves
$1212.78 for food, fun, investing, medical spending, extra gas, etc

A reasonable budget would be:

$400: Food
$100: Invest (roth IRA)
$100: Invest: ETF/Stocks
$200: HSA Account for Medical (Need to Set Up!)
$200: Clothes / Makeup
$100: Extra Gas
$112.78: Entertainment

What am I missing?

Attempting to learn how to Budget with Beehive

Thanks to an anonymous poster for reminding me how I really need to start budgeting. After my little shopping trip to the local mall the other day, I realized just how little control I have over my spending. One of my biggest problems (and I know I’m fortunate to even have this problem) is that I have $20k+ in savings, so often I feel like even though I shouldn’t be spending that money (I should be SAVING it for grad school or a house) – but it just feels like those bigger ticket items are so unreachable that I might as well just spend my money now. And I get such a rush buying clothes. Especially ones that I feel good about buying… when I feel like I’ve bought items that I’ll wear again and again. It makes the endorphins kick in. Shopping is my drug. But it’s an expensive habit. And I need to quit it.

In any case, I’ve decided to try to make a budget and to… hopefully… stick to it. There’s no reason I can’t get through a month on a monthly salary of about $3000. It’s pathetic that I’m still losing money. Ok, so I haven’t actually gotten through my first “full” month of work, so last month was just a mess financially anyway, with my time off between jobs and everything. In any case, I looked online to find some budgeting tools, and of course, I found a zillion. I picked one out at random…

Beehive basically helps you make your budget. I’m going through right now and filling in all of my income and expense information. This should help me see exactly how much money I have to use to budget per month.

I’m trying to estimate low for non-fixed income, since I’d rather end up with more money at the end of the year than less. When they asked how much I make per year in investments, I put down $200. I think my CDs probably take in about $300 per year, but the way my other investments… Roth IRA and Mutual Fund are doing, I’ll be lucky if I break even this year.

Meanwhile, I’m estimating high on most expenses. I’m really confused on how to budget, but I guess ultimately if I put in $100 a month for clothing I NEED to stick to that.

Here’s what I’m budgeting for non-fixed expenses…

(per month)

Clothing: $100 (um, can I really just spend $100 a month on clothing?) $200: I don’t have to spend all $200, but I’d rather save some money for clothing each month and then go on a massive shopping spree, as opposed to only having $100 to spend.
Gasoline: $250 (it’s been that high in the past few months because of all of my commuting for various reasons. In september, my gas costs should come down quite drastically, but it can’t hurt to estimate high, right?
Entertainment
: $200. Should include alcohol costs. Because that’s what adds up.
Beauty: $100. I figure between eyebrow/face waxing, and my occasional hair cut, beauty costs average out to about a hundred a month. Maybe I should estimate higher. Hmm.
Alcohol: $50. Here, I’ll through in an extra $50 for those rare months when I actually have a social life.
Travel: $100. That’d get me to Hawaii in a year.

Anyway…

Now I’m entering in “Assets”

I’m confused as to how I should record my assets for my investments. Should I note how much I put into the funds, or how much currently exists in the funds? It doesn’t look like there is a spot to track the funds, or to note how much its average earnings (or losses) are per year. Hmm.

I guess I’ll put in what they’re currently worth. It will make me less sad to start off with a smaller amount in my budget anyway. And I can kind of (try to) forget that thus far my investments have lost $400.

15 minutes later.

Ok, so I’ve decided “Beehive” sucks as a budget tool. I really wish there were an easy way to make a budget and track my finances.

One thing I don’t like about Beehive is that when you’re inputing your expenses for the month, it lumps all your “personal expenses” together. That includes everything from clothing to gasoline. What I really need is a breakdown of my “personal expenses” spending. I guess it’s not a terrible idea to start thinking of it as a lump sum, because then I might be motivated to spend less on eating out in order to support my shopping addiction. But, still, I think it’s important for me to break down my spending via category, and see where the money goes each month.

Meanwhile, I find it’s really difficult to keep track of expenses that I am supposed to get reimbursed for at work. I feel like they should be counted separately, but I need to make sure to note that any future income that’s actually reimbursement needs to cancel out.

Does anyone out there know of a good way to make (and keep) a budget? Help!

Luxury Denim: $200 for a pair of jeans?

Back in the day, I remember oogling brand-name jeans in the Juniors department at various department stores and getting sick to my stomach looking at the price tags. But back then, the most expensive pair of jeans I saw was $100, maybe $110 for a really pricey brand. Most of the jeans were more like $50-$70, and there was always a pair I could find that fit decently for the $40-$50 range.

Yesterday, I spent $158 on a pair of jeans. Plus tax. I can’t believe I did that. But it was my reward for getting myself a new job where I’ll be making $15k more a year. The new job also lets me wear jeans to work more than one day a week, so I figured it was worth the investment. Sure, I could buy three or four pairs for that price, but why buy three or four that aren’t perfect when I could buy one I love?

I’m trying to get out of the mentality that my mom taught me: more is better. That’s not true most of the time. I’m a shoppaholic, sure, but I own so many items of clothing that I bought on sale that I wore once and never had the occasion or desire to wear again. Jeans, at least, will get a lot of wear.

I remember hearing from Suzie Orman (or maybe I read it in one of her books at Borders) that in order to determine the price of an item, you should device it by the number of times you wear it. So a $15 shirt worn once is actually a lot more expensive than a $150 pair of jeans worn 200 times. I like that concept, as it makes me feel pretty good about spending so much on one pair of Jeans. What doesn’t make me good is finding the same pair (fitwise/style anyway) on sale on Bluefly.com for $60 less (wrong size anyway).

So I went to Macy’s determined to find a pair of $150-$200 jeans that fit like a glove and required no further alteration. That’s more difficult than it sounds since my legs are too short purportionately for the size of my waist.

I tried on 8 pairs of Jeans, ranging in price from $78 to $186. I wanted to see if I could tell the difference between the quality, or if the price difference had to do more with the little logo that would rest near my ass and less to do with fit.

The three main pricey designer jean brands seem to be Citizen’s of Humanity, Seven for All Mankind, and Joe’s. I soon found out that Citizen’s and Seven Jeans are meant for model figures. I was tempted to buy a pair of Citizen jeans that sort of kind of fit, but for $186 I didn’t want jeans that fit like someone else’s glove.

Then, I found them. A pair of $156 Joe’s Jeans, size 31 petite, dark wash. The perfect pair of jeans. Almost. They fit like my glove. Even better, the details were classy, not trashy (i’m not spending $150+ on a pair of ripped jeans, thankyouverymuch.) Ever since finding out I have a nice behind (it seems to be one of my better assets, according to others) I’m very picky about how jeans make my ass look. And the pocket detailing has a lot to do with whether they’re flattering or falling flat. This pair had the best pocket’s I’ve ever seen. A braided weave of denim that would, indeed, gracefully cling to my bootie. This was the pair of jeans I had been dreaming of when fighting with pants to make it over my wide womanly hips, only to find out the waist itself was way to big (can you say ‘hello underwear’?)

I bought them. I also ended up buying a $90 DKNY dress/shirt that I probably didn’t need. But it was so beautiful that I couldn’t resist. I might return it. That’s one of those items I’ll wear once, maybe, and never wear again. Just because while I love fashion and patterns and color, lately I’ve found I always fall back on solids and, well, basic black. I’m so boring. When I grew up I was all about fancy patterns and bright colors. I’m no longer craving that kind of attention or desire to make a fashion statement. Besides, five out of seven days of the week I work, and while I don’t need to be extremely conservative at work, in order to be taken seriously I can’t wear paisely.

So here I am, wearing my over-priced designer jeans, enjoying the fit, the details, the feel of heavy, high-quality denim clinging to my hips and knees.

And now, of course, I want to buy another pair. Light wash.

PF Jitters

My $6000 was officially transferred from the safety of my Maximizer checking account into my IRA and Mutual Fund investment accounts. I’m excited about taking the investment leap myself, but nervous as all hell that the leap might be futile, or worse. I’m pretty comfortable with the $3000 I put to my Roth IRA. It’s in a nice Retirement 2050 plan that’s already diversified with my retirement date in mind. And since Vanguard seems to be a pretty reputable company, I’m not too worried. However, the $3000 I put towards that Mid-Cap Growth Index Fund is probably a bad idea.

As of 10:25am, my $3000 in my mutual fund is down 5 cents, and my $3000 in my IRA is up 3 cents. Why is a 2-cent loss making me so god-damn nervous? And furthermore, why is my Mutual Fund down 5 cents when looking at the day’s activity in the fund, it should be up a bit? I’m rather confused right now. Maybe it dropped down the second I put my money in. I know I’m going to be anal about checking how the fund is doing, despite that I’m going to try to force myself to keep my money in there for a few years (until grad school) unless someone more knowledgeable than me advises me otherwise.

I’m kind of glad I’m prohibited from getting involved in the nitty gritty of stock trading (due to covering technology companies that I’d like want to invest in), so I’ll likely avoid making any major investment mistakes. Still, putting $3000 in an account that could drop down to $2000 in a few days makes me rather nervous. I mean, the largest investment I’ve ever made with my money thus far was that godawful CD with a 3.1 % interest rate. I put $7000 into that a few months after I got out of college. It seemed like the wise thing to do at the time. It was an 18-month CD, and I figured since I had upwards of $30k in savings somehow, I could spare $7000 for such a “risky” investment. Well, it felt risky at the time.

Sadly enough, I didn’t bother to call my bank when the CD matured, thinking that it would just automatically transfer to my checking or savings account and I could deal with it then. Of course, now I know that CD’s automatically reinvest themselves at the same rate, for the same amount of time. So now I have my $7000 (which is at about $7400 after gaining the 18 months of Interest, which I guess is better than nothing) tied up in this low-interest CD. Meanwhile I recently saw an ad on Bank of America for an 8-month 5.01 % CD and I threw $5000 at that. For some reason they haven’t processed my CD investment yet, though. I guess I have to call them and confirm some things before they can pull my money from my checking account and put it in the CD.

In more exciting news, since last weekend I’ve made $1.57 since enrolling in BankofAmerica’s “Keep the Change” program. It’s kind of neat – every time you use your debit card, they roll your spending cost up to the nearest dollar and deposit the difference in your bank account. So, for instance, if you spend $1.01, they’ll toss in 99 cents. Of course, most purchases end up being, like, $2.92, so in that case you only get 8 cents. But over the course of one week and eight transactions, I’ve afforded myself a small coffee. I also apparently racked up $2.46 in my AdSense account somehow. I guess that means people are actually reading my page. That’s exciting! Extra income, even $4 a week, is certainly helpful. I’m nervous about this AdSense account thing, though. I’ve read some horror stories about how Google has shut down accounts if you click on your own links. And it’s not like I’m going to do it on purpose, but sometimes I’m not thinking and I’m actually interested in an advertisement shown on my page. I’ve never had to restrict myself from clicking something. So hopefully I can restrain myself.

On another note, I’m saving some money this month because I’ve offered a friend who’s recently moved to the area a place to crash until she finds a place. I wasn’t going to make her pay anything, but since she offered I figured I’d split my rent and pro-rate it. So that comes out to $15 a day. And I’m also possibly designing some websites for my friends for a rather small fee (compared to my normal rate.) But I never count my freelance money as income. It’s always “extra,” although in actually due to my poor spending habits and inability to keep a budget, I’m lucky if my freelance wages cover all the cash I’ve spent in a month.

So salary-wise, make about $2200 a month after taxes. (Though this year I ended up owing a lot in taxes and I haven’t done anything with the W4, so I’m figuring I make about $2100 a month, really. $905 of that goes to rent & utilities (PG&E, water, trash, etc are “included” in my rent). Oh, what the hell, here’s a list of my basic fixed monthly costs:

$905 — Rent (includes utilities) – Going up to $1050 per month in July, plus requiring renter’s insurance.
$60 – Verizon Cell Phone Bill, if I remember to pay it on time and don’t use 411, etc.
$64 – RCN TV & Internet
$8 – the converter box from RCN that I’ve yet to find time to return, that I’m apparently “renting” on a monthly basis
$5 – RCN “Home networking” – on my RCN bill, but I have no idea what this is. WTF?
——————————
$1038 total for now
$1188 + whatever rent’s insurance costs in July.

Now, time for some depressing figures…

My spending on rent currently is 45 percent of my income (you’re only supposed to spend 20-30 percent of your income on rent, I hear.) In July, sans a raise (and I doubt I’m getting a raise anytime soon) I’ll be spending 50 percent (or more) of my income on rent.

It doesn’t take a personal finance blogger to tell me that’s a terrible idea.

I’ve been thinking about writing a post about why on earth I live alone in the SF Bay Area on $35k a year, so I think I’ll write that up over my lunch break later this afternoon.

In any case, with $1050 left for all the other things in life outside of basic housing, TV, Internet and phone, I just keep overspending. It doesn’t help matters that I’m spending upwards of $350 a month in gas to get to my various rehearsals that are 40 or so miles from my home (my “hobby” is doing community theater – which is free, outside of gas mileage and makeup for shows and the like.)

But hey, at least I made $1.57 in “keep the cents” change. Then again, Bank of America, for some reason, has that $1.57 noted as a “spend” in my checking account. So I’m down $1.57 for the time being. What’s up with that? Grr.