Life in Transition

Navigating Personal Finances During Life Transitions

Spending Update: Mar-Apr 2012

I know most people make a budget from the first of the month, to the last day.  I found it easier to create a budget based on when I get my monthly paychecks, which is on the third Friday of each month.  Since I get paid hourly for both jobs I work, but monthly for one and bi-weekly for the other, my income is always a little unpredictable based on how many hours I work each job, even though I work the same number of hours each week.

Projected Monthly Income: $2000
Actual Monthly Income: $2018.39*
*I did not include my extra paycheck

Category Budgeted Actual Difference
Housing $325.00 $342.63 -$17.63
Tithe $200.00 $200.00 $0.00
Transportation $195.00 $190.12 $4.88
Health Care $140.00 $129.04 $10.96
Food $110.00 $142.19 -$32.19
Roth IRA $200.00 $200.00 $0.00
Targeted Savings $465.00 $465.00 $0.00
Clothes $35.00 $42.27 -$7.27
Entertainment $30.00 $15.46 $14.54
Miscellaneous $0.00 $5.73 -$5.73
Tax Withholding $300.00 $247.31 $52.69
Total $2,000.00 $1,979.75 $20.25

Last month, I knew I had a lot less money to work with than usual, which meant I was going to have to be extremely disciplined keeping my variable costs low. Overall, I stayed pretty well within budget.  I ended going over budget for housing since my roommates and I had to turn on the heat again; I was anticipating a heat-free month since January and February was abnormally warm.  I guess I should always expect unpredictable weather here and account for it in my budget.  To illustrate the unpredictability, this past month we had a deadly tornado that killed over thirty people one day, three inches of snow the next day (the biggest snow-fall all winter), and an eighty-degree sunny day after that.  I also went over on my food budget.  I’ve been running around town doing errands for my wedding so I haven’t had enough time/too tired and lazy to cook.  I definitely want to cut the number of times I eat out for lunch next month.  Normally I don’t spend about $200 on transportation (insurance and gas), but I knew that I had to make trips to Cincinnati and Peoria, IL so I reduced the amount of money I would normally spend on entertainment.

My usual routine is to have a new budget a week before I get next my paycheck.  However, I’m getting married in two weeks and I have no idea what costs to anticipate next month.  I don’t know how much to budget for food, gas, etc.  Usually I look at my past spending history and make a list of expenses I’m expecting (ex. oil change, dentist appointment, gifts).  I’ve tried getting my fiance to track his spending for the past year but he has been pretty unsuccessful keeping it up, so I can’t use his past spending history as a place to start.  We’ve talked about our overall goals and priorities when it comes to finances, but we haven’t talked about the mechanics of combining our finances or how we are going to create a budget yet.  My fiance is finishing up his first year of dental school and has been studying for finals, so he’s already stressed and finances are the last thing on his mind.

Have any of you made the transition from separate to joint finances.  How did the first month look?

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6 thoughts on “Spending Update: Mar-Apr 2012

  1. I’m blown away by how much your budget resembles mine when I was single (/now, but double)! We make basically the same amount of money so our expenses are very similar. Plus I’m all about our targeted savings, too!

    That is a crazy weather pattern!

    The last month or so before our wedding were characterized by unusually high levels of spending on eating out. We were shopping around for rehearsal dinner locations and also didn’t have much time to cook. It’ll be crazy but soon you’ll be married and you can settle down again! Are you and your husband going to move in together immediately after the wedding or straddle 2 residences for a bit? We moved all my stuff the day after our wedding/the day before we left for our honeymoon and it was so busy we didn’t sleep before our flight.

    What’s your method for tracking spending? When I was single I used Excel but that was too much work for my husband so we started using Mint. He didn’t mind paying attention to the budget, he just didn’t want to do the work of recording transactions.

    • We still don’t know when we can move in after the wedding. My fiance got an resident associate position at the medical campus dorms. Unfortunately, we haven’t found out when we can move in. His lease is up at the end of May, and I can live where I’m at until the end of June. We’re definitely hoping to move in before that.

      Right now I’m using excel to keep track of monthly spending. I tried using Mint, but I found that it was hard get an accurate picture since my roommates and I split our bills. On Mint is will show up as me paying the whole bill, rather than 1/4th of it. I also don’t want any wedding related expenses tracked in my regular budget…I have another excel sheet for that, so with Mint there was a lot of extra things that I didn’t want to include. I might give Mint another try after the wedding.

  2. Our budgets are very similar! Even the contribution to Roth and savings. It must be exciting that you’re getting married soon. My BF and I will be combining finances once the time comes to get married but I’d imagine it shouldn’t be too hard after the first month or so of tracking both of your expenses. Will both of you be involved in managing the money? Sometimes it helps to just have discussions about it..maybe have monthly financial meetings!

  3. My husband and I combined our finances about a year after we got married. I was nervous about it at first but it ended up being such a great thing. The first few months we were just winging it but once we got an idea of how to budget together, things were great.

  4. I’ve only had separate finances when living with my long term girlfriend. It would be a big adjustment to switch to combined finances. A system I heard about that sounds good is his-ours-hers. Basically you have 1 group account that covers all of your monthly expenses that you both contribute to. Then you also have your own separate accounts to manage on your own. The thing I like about this setup is that you can still buy what you personally want without the other person having to worry about it too much. Also it makes buying each other gifts easier since you’re not buying them with each other’s money.

  5. I had accounts set up that after we got married my wife and I would start using. I didnt want to go out the days after and try to get everything situated so I did it before. First month was just my income and really it has been my income until this february when my wife went to work after we had our 2 children…so it has been pretty easy to track 🙂

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