Life in Transition

Navigating Personal Finances During Life Transitions

Archive for the tag “budget”

Spending Report: June-July 2012

Here is my budget and spending for the month:

Projected Income: $2400             Actual Income: $2448.50

Catagory Budgeted Actual Difference
Rent $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Tithe $240 $244.65 -$4.65
Taxes $400.00 $294.76 $105.24
Health Insurance $100.00 $99.04 $0.96
Cell Phone $43.00 $43.00 $0.00
Gas $50.00 $8.77 $41.23
Food $310.00 $314.11 -$4.11
Car Insurance $72.00 $72.00 $0.00
Doctor’s Appt $50.00 $100.00 -$50.00
Medication/Contacts $170.00 $224.13 -$54.13
Personal Care $20.00 $28.90 -$8.90
Home Supplies $10.00 $0.00 $10.00
Roth IRA $250.00 $250.00 $0.00
Emergency Fund $75.00 $75.00 $0.00
Tuition Savings $360.00 $268.50 $91.50
Entertainment $130.00 $154.79 -$24.79
Gifts $30.00 $21.75 $8.25
Christmas Savings $50.00 $50.00 $0.00
Misc $10.00 $57.00 -$47.00
Total $2,370 $2,306.40 $63.60


This is my first month with no rent! My lease is finally over.  Unfortunately most of the money freed up from rent went towards medical expenses.  I had a minor accident while I was learning how to ride the scooter so I ended up with medical bills.  Even with insurance, co-pays to doctor, physical therapist, and medication added up.  Originally, all the medical expenses budgeted for the month were for my husband’s annual allergist appointment, contacts, and regular prescriptions.  We ended up pushing back the allergist appointment buying contacts to next month.  On a high note, we spent less than $10 on gas this month! We did not have to fill up the tank for our car at all this month since we only drove it about once a week.


Spending Update: May-June 2012

At an initial glance, May-June looked pretty good; it looked like I went under budget.  The problem was that I had overestimated my income.  I was almost $200 off!  I forgot to take into account the unpaid vacation days I took during the last pay period. My husband got his first paycheck so that is included in our total income, though I forgot to include it in our projected income, which turned out to be a good thing.  About half-way through the month I realized that my paychecks were not going to hit the $2400 mark, so I was able to curb some spending for the rest of the month.  Most of my savings came from taxes, since I guess I was a bracket lower than usual.  I ended up “borrowing” a small money from my Christmas fund to keep me from spending more than my income.

Projected income: $2400.00                                            Actual Income: $2203.90


Category Budgeted Actual Difference
Rent $500.00 $500.00 $0.00
Tithe $240.00 $219.00 $21.00
Taxes $400.00 $230.85 $169.15
Cell Phone Bill $45.00 $43.00 $2.00
Gas $72.00 $52.99 $19.01
Car Insurance $100.00 $72.00 $28.00
Groceries $250.00 $246.80 $3.20
Health Insurance $99.04 $99.04 $0.00
Car Maintenance $30.00 $44.00 -$14.00
Doctor’s Appointment $70.00 $0.00 $70.00
Personal Care $25.00 $27.29 -$2.29
Home Supplies $10.00 $47.06 -$37.06
Medication/Contacts $130.00 $151.70 -$21.70
Roth IRA $150.00 $150.00 $0.00
Emergency Fund $75.00 $75.00 $0.00
Christmas Fund $35.00 $31.21 $3.79
Entertainment $178.00 $187.24 -$9.24
Miscellaneous $0.00 $25.90 -$25.90
Total $2,409.04 $2,203.08  $205.96


My lease to my apartment ends Jun 30, so I made my last rent payment.  Hopefully, there will be no more rent checks for awhile, which means that about $500 will be freed up in our budget.

Spending Update: Apr-May 2012

I’m a little behind on a lot of things, but I finally finished tabulated my April-May spending

Projected Monthly Income: $2800.00
Actual Monthly Income: $3088.95

Category Budgeted Actual Difference
Housing $700.00 $777.16 -$77.16
Tithe $280.00 $300.04 $20.04
Transportation $195.00 $180.84 $14.16
Health Care $120.00 $149.26 -$29.26
Food $180.00 $176.57 $3.43
Roth IRA $250.00 $250.00 $0.00
Targeted Savings $310.00 $354.00 -$54.00
Clothes $45.00 $90.20 -$45.2
Entertainment $80.00 $72.71 $7.29
Miscellaneous $150.00 $231.62 -$81.62
Tax Withholding $450.00 $490.64 $40.64
Total $2,760.00 $3073.04 -$313.04

I got married during the pay period, and my husband and I moved into our new place.  Even though our new apartment is free, we still have a few months left on the lease, so we will still be paying rent, utilities etc.  For all the other catagories, I pretty much just made up a number, hoping that the total amount of money spent is less than my paycheck.  Hopefully after a few months, I’ll have a better idea of how much money to allocate in each category.

The bulk of the extra money spend went towards buying new things for our new apartment.  Luckily, I ended up having a larger paycheck than expected so cash flow wise, we were still in the black.

Wedding Budget

I finally finished tabulating how much I ended up spending on my wedding.  I spent a grand total of $7565.41, which is less than $100 over my $7500 budget.  I was really scared to add everything up, since in the weeks leading up to the wedding, I felt like I was doing wedding related shopping every day, and a lot of things were a lot more expensive than I expected.  Here is the chart of our budget and actual expenses:

Category Budgeted Actual Difference
Attire $900.00 $1,074.18 ($174.18)
Dress   $718.68  
–Alterations   $280.00  
–Hair, Makeup   $61.50  
–Fabric Tape   $14.00  
Reception $3,000.00 $3,406.77 ($406.77)
–Tent Rental   $2,356.55  
–Food & Drinks   $225.70  
–Decorations   $319.76  
–Flowers   $154.76  
–Wedding Cake   $350.00  
Ceremony $1,000.00 $741.32 $258.68
–Chair Rental   $605.13  
–License   $36.57  
–Basket & Pillow   $56.45  
–Decorations   $43.17  
Bouquets $500.00 $383.00 $117.00
Bridal Party Gifts $150.00 $161.51 ($11.51)
–Groomsmen   $107.06  
–Bridesmaids   $54.45  
Rings $350.00 $129.13 $220.87
–Groom   $44.95  
–Bride   $84.18  
Photography $1,300.00 $1,400.00 ($100.00)
Stationary $300.00 $269.50 $30.50
–Save the Dates   $24.39  
–Guestbook   $47.00  
–Invitations   $97.27  
–Programs   $60.00  
–Postage   $40.84  
Total $7,500.00 $7,565.41 ($65.41)

The chart does not include expenses that other people have covered or services offered as a gift, whic is why some of the line items look really low.  I did not include neither the $1200 cost of the venue nor the portable toilet (I’m estimating those to be about $200), since my parents-in-law decided to cover those expenses in exchange for upgrading to a roomier tent.  My husband’s parents also bought all the alcohol.  They stuck with wines that were less than $8/bottle and purchased a keg.  I’m estimating that alcohol totaled around $200.00.  You probably also noticed that the overall food cost I listed is really low.  I decided to have a dessert reception, and some friends and family volunteered to bake something.  I’m not exactly sure how much all of the ingredients for the brownies, cookies, fudge, chocolate covered strawberries, etc. costed.  Overall,  I think that  after including all these costs, overall the wedding was still under 10K.

I spent a lot less on decorations than I had expected. Since the ceremony venue was outside in a beautiful setting, I didn’t really need to decorate.  For the reception, I borrowed a lot of things from my mother-in-law.  I went with a vintage decorating palate, since lot of her candle holders, vases,  cake stands, trays, and other house decor were more ornate.  Flowers usually cost an arm and a leg, especially my favorite flower, the peony.  I cut down flower costs by using silk flowers for my bouquets and buying  individual stems from a wholesaler to create simple center pieces.

I definitely experienced a lot sticker shock for the tent  and chair rental.  The wedding venue required a tent and required you to use a certain rental company.  I don’t know how the rental company compared to other ones in terms of price, but I know that the general consensus is that tents are expensive no matter where you get it.  Overall, I spent about $3000 on rentals alone!

Overall, I am really pleased how my sub-10K wedding turned out.  I definitely  proved to myself that I could  have a beautiful wedding on a budget.

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?

Wedding Trimmings–Part III

During the past two weeks, I’ve discuss ways to save money the wedding dress, venue, reception, invitations, etc.  Today, I’ll discuss ways to save money on photography, cake, and officiant.

For me, this was one of the most difficult areas to save money.  A good photographer was definitely a priority for the wedding, but a good photographer doesn’t come cheap.  I understand why.  Taking wedding pictures is physically demanding, and the hours are long.  Not to mention, the equipment, editing software, and travel expenses add up and the cost is carried over to the clients.  So, I think a skilled photographer has every right to charge as much as they do (I know some people will disagree with that statement).  The average well-established photographer in this area ranges between  $2000-$2500, which  is too much for my budget.  

I was able to find a less expensive photographer through friends and facebook.  I go to a church with a lot of up-and-coming artists, so I found a candidate there who was only going to charge me $800.   The second candidate photographed my former roommate’s wedding quoted me for $1400, and the third candidate I found on Facebook, and his basic package costed $1700.  

The first photographer was an acquaintance, and he had just started his photography business.  When was looking for a photographer, he had only taken pictures of two weddings.  While his pictures weren’t bad, stylistically, it was not what I was looking for.  Plus, he was the least inexperienced out of the three, and his price point reflected that.  In the end, I decided not to use him because of his lack of experience.  Now that he’s had a full year to practice, he’s improved greatly.  Sometimes I wonder if I should have picked the first photographer, since he charged significantly less than the others.  

I ended up hiring the second photographer.  She had a year of experience and she consistently took high quality pictures.  When my former roommate got married, she only charged $950.  She became popular very quickly, and increased her prices. The third photographer also took excellent pictures, but he was less affordable.  Though she charged $700 more than  the first photographer, I  chose her since I knew I would definitely get good pictures on my wedding day.   This is an area that I did not want to skimp on quality.  Photographs are one of the few tangible things that I can look at after the wedding is over.  

Tips to trim photography costs: I would start with recommendations from friends, since it’s hard to find photographers under the radar with a Google search.  If you live near a university with an art or photojournalism department, look for students seeking to build a portfolio.  Searching Facebook for wedding photographers is also a good place to start.  Many new photographers who just started will have a Facebook page but no website.

Wedding Cake
Wedding cakes are expensive, for the same reasons photography is expensive.  My former roommate’s sister-in-law is making my wedding cake.  She bakes cakes out of her home as a hobby and will slowly build it into a small business as her daughters get older.  I told her what my budget was upfront and we talked about designs that would fit my budget.  I chose a standard  cake flavor, plain vanilla, and standard icing–nothing fancy.  Overall, I think I saved over $300 by not using a professional bakery.  

Another way to keep costs low is to buy a cake at a local grocery store with a bakery.  Usually, their cakes will be cheaper than a bakery that exclusive makes wedding cakes.  If you choose to bake your own, make several one tier cakes with varying designs.  There’s less of a chance to mess up than trying to make your own  multi-tiered cakes.

Tips to trim cake costs: The most important thing is to keep it simple.  The more exotic the flavors and the more intricate the design, the more your cake will cost.  If possible, find a family member or friend who can bake a wedding cake.  If not, try a grocery store with a bakery such as Kroger.

Depending on whether or not you have a religious ceremony, this may or may not be an area where you can save money.  My fiance and I are pretty involved with a church here in Louisville.  The church has been like a family for us, since we both live far from home.  So, it was important to us that one of the pastors officiates the wedding.  Each church has its policy about compensation for the ministers to do weddings.   Since my fiance and I have gotten to know one of the pastors at my church pretty well from our involvement with the college ministry, he waived the fee as his wedding gift.  

If you opt against a religious ceremony, you have more freedom with who you choose to officiate.  The best way to save money is to have a friend  perform the ceremony.   One of my friends asked her uncle to officiate her wedding.  There’s a few  ways to get certified.  There are some denominations, such as the Universal Life Church and First Nation Ministry, that open ordination to anyone and allow you to get certified online.  If you choose to go this route, make sure you check the legal requirements of your state.

Tips to trim officiant costs: If you or a family member is close to minister, pastor, or judge, ask to see if they are willing give you a discount or officiate for free.  If not, ask a family member or friend to get the proper certification to officiate.

What are some ways you have trimmed costs on your wedding?

Extra Paycheck!

I currenly work two jobs, but for the same boss.  My boss is a professor at a university here in Louisville, and she’s also started a small bio-tech company.  The two share the same space, so it’s easy to go back and forth between working for the company and the university.

The pay schedule for the two are different.  The company pays monthly, and I get a paycheck the third Friday every month.  On the other hand, the university pays bi-weekly. Typically, for every monthly paycheck I get, I receive two bi-weekly paychecks, and I create my budget base on those premises.  Well, this month I got an unexpected surprise, an extra paycheck!

Now I don’t create monthly budgets based on the calender month.  Instead I begin a new budget on the day I receive my monthly paycheck.  So, my current “fiscal” month began on March 16 since that was when I received my paycheck from the company.  It’ll end on April 19th, the day before my next one.  So far, during this month, I have already received two bi-weekly paycheck, one on March 16 and one on March 30.  Yesterday, I just realized that I will get an extra paycheck before the fiscal month closes.

Since I didn’t budget for the extra paycheck, I’m debating on how I should best use it.  It won’t be much; it’ll be about $325.  Still, I want to use that money wisely.  Should I save it in one of my targeted savings accounts, put in in my Roth IRA, or use the money to buy a more professional looking wardrobe (Note: I’ve slowly realized that I dress too much like a high schooler, since I bought most of the clothes I wear in high school.  I definitely think it’s a good time to re-evalutate my closet and some professional attire more fitting to my age)?  What would you all do with an “extra” paycheck?


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