January Budget Recap

January Budget RecapI some how managed this month to really be under budget in some areas…and way over in others. I think one of the problems I’m coming across is I’m not being detailed enough in my actual trips. Like I will go to Walgreens for some grocery items but also pick up makeup…so it covers both shopping and grocery categories. My goal for February is to keep receipts and try to be more specific in my tracking.

Groceries:

Budgeted: $250

Actual: $313

Difference: $63

Another month going way over on budget on this one! I’ve been trying desperately to cut back on my grocery bills but always manage to go over. I’m cooking more at home and finding that I’m always missing something in my cupboard for a recipe. I’ve also been buying more meat products (I bought lots of sausage, chicken and beef in January for some reason). I’m thinking that it may be worth a look into getting a Costco membership for some items that are non-perishable and for meat if I’m going to cook with it more.  Its still something I’m mulling over if its worth it to do right now….

Gas & Transportation:

Budget: $50

Actual: $0

Difference: $50

Didn’t have to spend anything on gas or transportation. But come February I have to renew my city sticker…definitely NOT a perk of living in Chicago.

Shopping

Budget: $200 ( I lowered it this month!)

Actual: $98

Difference: $102

I am SO proud of myself this month for shopping!  I not only lowered my budget but was super under budget! I even went shopping a few times and didn’t find anything so I didn’t spend! The few things I did end up buying were online and I started using ebates for the rewards! But now that I’m not going to England, I’m still planning on moving out of Chicago so I want to save up as much as I can so I can buy some nicer furniture and really decorate when I move and have the space to! I’ve already made a pinterest board of all my decorating ideas for my next place!

Food/Entertainment

Budget: $100 but flexible

Actual: $41

Difference: $59

My one week of No Lunches and my one week of No-Spend really made it happen. I can 100% attribute my success in this budget because of it. It also made me spend a little more in my grocery budget but I’ve decided to keep it up, and try to stick to no going out to lunch, or if I do, just once a week.

Beauty

Budget: $50

**I rarely get my hair and nails done so this budget will be as needed.

Actual: $0

Difference: $50

Blog Expenses/Jewelry Making Supplies

Budget: $150

Actual: $101

Difference: $49

I got this idea in my head that I was going to make jewelry and sell it on Etsy. So I went out and bought a shit ton of stuff over Christmas and then awhole bunch more crap this month. I really like making the jewelry but my skills are not so hot. So instead of buying more crap…I’m going to try to use what I’ve got first. Next month I’m hoping to FINALLY get my blog re-launched (My sister showed me the sneak peek and it looks awesome!) So I’ll be buying some sponsorship on some blogs and finally figure out a free printable/guide for when you subscribe to the blog!

What would you want to see from me?!

January Budget

Total Budget: $800

Actual: $546

Difference: $254

Additional Income: $86 + Year end bonus! 

I sold an item on Poshmark and sold a bed frame I had laying around my apartment. In February I’m going to try to do some more clearing out of things (I have a standing mirror/jewelry cabinet and couple laptops to sell and yet again…more clothes) 

Despite my really awesome job this month on things like shopping and going out to eat. I still definitely was over budget. I had some extra expenses in January, my poor puppy had to go to the vet. And Next month will be the same, vet visits, city stickers, taxes and a trip to Austin are all on the books. So February has some BIG goals!

I’m doing my Goals Post on the 1st of the month! Just to share my February Goals and some updates on my life…if you couldn’t tell there are some things a happenin’!

 

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November Budget Recap

November, Budget, Recap

I gotta say, I’m getting much better at this Budgeting thing. It definitely gets easier as you go along. My spending is getting more specific and I’m able to say no to a lot more, which allows me to say yes to other things! I’m actually pretty proud of myself this month because its getting closer to the holidays and its the time of year where you tend to spend more, rather than less.

Groceries:

Budgeted: $250

Actual: $239

Difference: $11 left! 

I really made an effort to cut back on my grocery shopping. Mostly the little trips to Walgreens that I always make when I’m craving something sweet or salty. Since I’m really enjoying the writing and photographing the recipe posts here on The O Guide, I’m finding it easier to meal plan a little because I’m planning out posts as well. I’ve got a few more ideas brewing and you may see more than one recipe a week coming in the future.

Gas & Transportation:

Budget: $50

Actual: $44

Difference: $6

I went to Michigan this month to help my sister pick out her wedding dress. So I spent more on gas than I normally do.

Shopping

*This includes both clothing and home goods, eventually I will separate it but for now this works.

Budget: $300 

I decided to leave my budget at $300 for now. Its getting easier to not shop, so eventually I’ll lower it when I’m confident I can achieve it.

Actual: $321

Difference: $21

I’m super proud of myself in this area! Only over by $21 which is my biggest success so far! I really have knocked off a few things from my wish list, so next month there really isn’t much I need to buy for myself.

Food/Entertainment

Budget: $100 but flexible

Actual: $135

Difference: $35

I’m getting better in this area. I’d actually be under this month if when I went home to Michigan I didn’t go a little crazy on drinks when I went out with my sister and her fiance.

Beauty

Budget: $50

**I rarely get my hair and nails done so this budget will be as needed.

Actual: $32

Difference: $18

Blog Expenses

Budget: $150

Actual: $111

Difference: $39

I’ve been spending more on the blog, my light box collapsed so I decided to buy a table instead and I’m trying to vary my backgrounds on photos. I’m hoping to be able to use the natural light from the window now more than just my lamps!

November Budget

Total Budget: $900

Actual: $882

Difference: $18

I am SO freaking proud of myself. I cannot believe that I’m actually UNDER my budget! by $18! Its not a lot, but its a move in the right direction. I think I may take the money I’m under each month and put it towards my credit card or my savings account as a reward! Ideally I’d like to have my budgeted expenses down to around $650, which would be saving me about $250 extra a month!

 

Why has budgeting become so important to me all of a sudden?

Budgeting is HARD work, but the rewards are so worth it. I talked briefly about why I decided to sit down and look at my finances here back in September.

Now the reality of my future is coming to fruition. Next fall I am moving to London, for a variety of reasons. Mostly because that’s where my boyfriend is but also because I’ll be going to graduate school and because I’ve always wanted to live in London and Europe, its where my heart has always wanted to be.

When I started this blog, I was just starting graduate school here in the States through an online program. My desire to go into therapy was somewhat skewed, it was an easy route to the career and experience that I wanted and needed. Not really what I wanted to do. The graduate program I was enrolled in was going to take me 6 years (taking one class a term) and going to cost me nearly $100,000. I already have $85,000 in student loans that I haven’t even started paying on yet so in the end I’d be at $185,000 in student loans, no thanks. When I looked at graduate schools in London….I’d be in class for one year, and spend about $19,000 on school. School was one of the easiest ways for me to also get a visa. Finding a job in England, with sponsorship for someone just starting out in a new career is nearly impossible, especially in marketing.

So now I’ve accepted my position at the University of Greenwich in London in a Strategic Marketing program. The school is beautiful (and has been in so many movies, way cool!) and is going to give me lots of opportunities to connect to potential jobs, make friends and have my own life separate from my boyfriend. (Cuz a girl’s gotta have girlfriends ya?)

Part of getting a student Visa in England is having sufficent funds for living expenses. London is crazy expensive. In order for me to get a visa, I have to have £9000 (give or take) which is equivelant to about $11,000-12,000. Its a lot of money. More than I have and have ever had in my life. Part of my desire to get on a budget and make strides towards building my savings was to get closer to that $11,000 mark. Unless I’m depositing about $2000 a month into my savings account, I won’t have it. I’ll get really close. Luckily I’ve got an alternative plan, which will be just fine for me to get the visa.

Regardless of my plan, I’ll still need adequate funds to fly myself and my dogs plus all my luggage, getting myself and my dogs to London will likely cost me around $4000. I’m obviously going to be deal hunting for flights and have pretty much arranged the flights for the dogs through a pet relocation firm, which will cost me around $1800 (which was cheap by the way! Other places quoted me $5000!) And obviously I’ll want a little cash on hand until I find a part time job, I can only work 20 hours a week on a student visa. Having as much money as possible before I leave is crucial!  On top of all that money I need to fly, and have for the visa, I also want to visit between now and then. So there is a lot of money needed between now and August.

My budget is essential and getting it down to a smaller amount will only help more. I’m hoping that by my birthday in June, I will have my goal amount saved, which I’m confident that I can do it, especially when I sell my car, do my taxes, and continue to contribute to my savings.

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Creating a budget and sticking to it has been challenging! But I know in the long run I’m going to benefit from it. I’ll be able to pay off my debt, put aside money for retirement, put money away for my kid’s higher education, and still have money to enjoy travel, and fancy dinners and the occasional splurge.

But its taught me a ton. I’m super aware of frivolous and irresponsible spending, not only by me, but my friends and family. And I’m in no way judging them, but I also have no sympathy for those who complain about not having money  yet go out and spend $100+ on a pair of boots that they don’t need.

This blog has really kept me accountable and I’m super grateful for mint.com because it really allows me to see where my money goes. I’ve always made a considerable effort to be aware of how much money I have but never where it goes. Now I’m much more responsible. I have real financial goals, and have a real desperate need to save money and limit my spending. I can only imagine if I was planning a wedding right now! I’d never be able to afford it!

Now that I’m on a really trajectory to being even more financially responsible, and to make sure I meet my monthly budgets. My monthly money goals are easier and easier!

Do you budget each month? What do you do to keep yourself in check?