Life in Transition

Navigating Personal Finances During Life Transitions

Archive for the tag “spending”

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.

 

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Five Necessities I Hate Paying For

  1. Oil Changes and Car Maintenance: I hate spending extra money to keep something running.  I know it’s what you’re suppose to do, but I still don’t like paying for that kind of stuff.
  2. Health Insurance: It’s expensive, and from my experience, everytime I try to file a claim, the insurance company tries to find a reason to deny it, which means I spend over 45 minutes on hold with their customer service.  Yet, it would be foolish to go without it.
  3. Parking pass: I know that what I’m paying right now for downtown parking at my apartment is a bargin, but since I grew up in small towns, I’m not used to paying for parking.  Yes, I could park for free on the street four blocks away, but the neighborhood four blocks away is ranked the 14th most dangerous neighborhood in the US by NeighborhoodScoutReports.com.  I don’t plan on walking there by myself at night, so the better alternative is to shell out money for a parking pass.
  4. Gas: Yes, I listed another car-related item. For some reason, I always underestimate how much it would cost to fill up a tank.
  5. Tuition: This isn’t really a necessity, unless your career goals requires a degree. I don’t really mind tuition itself, but why does it have to be so expensive?

What are some necessities you hate paying for?

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.

Soaring Cost of Prom & Cutting Costs

This past weekend, my husband and I went to P.F. Chang for dinner since we had a gift card.  Prom-goers swarmed the restaurant, which made me think about an article I read recently about soaring prom costs.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when it said that the average person spent $1000 on prom in 2011.  I knew that prom is a special night for high schoolers, but $1000 seems over the top for a dance.  Then I started thinking about how much I spent on my own prom.

Attire
I spent about $110 at JC Penney and $25 on alterations.  I made sure to get a shorter dress since they are usually cheaper than traditional prom gown.  Besides, I knew that I would more likely re-wear a shorter cocktail dress than a floor length gown.  I also chose a simpler one since it’s harder and more expensive to alter a dress with extensive beading. For shoes, I went to a discount store and bought a pair of heels for $20.  

Hair, Makeup, Accessories
I didn’t spend too much money on hair, just $20, but I spent more money than I had planned on for make-up.  I never wore make-up while I was in high school, so one of my friends set up an appointment the Estee Lauder makeup counter at the mall.  Getting make-up done was free if I purchased two items from the counter.  Unfortunately, going into this I had no idea how much nice make-up costed, so I experienced some sticker shock.  All together, I spent $55 on make-up.  While at the mall, I went ahead and bought a pair of nice earrings which were $23.

Food
The parents of one of my good friends had a membership at a swanky country club, so we were able to get a discount for a really nice meal.  I ended up spending $30 for dinner, since I didn’t want my date to pick up the tab.  I still think $30 is a lot of money for one meal, but it was definitely one of the best meals I ever had.  

Other
At my high school, the senior class didn’t have to buy a ticket for prom.  All we had to do was bring an ID, or make sure one of the teachers chaperoning recognized us.  I skipped out on most of the prom bells and whistles.  I didn’t go to the tanning bed like the rest of the girls in my class.  My friends and I didn’t get a fancy limo nor did we book a block of hotel rooms for the after party. We went over to a friend’s house afterwards, and the next morning another friend’s mom hosted a delicious brunch. I have no idea how much these things would have costed, but I’m sure I saved a lot of money.

So, my total prom tab: $283 which according to an online inflation calculator, is equivalent to $314 today.

I managed to keep my prom costs low, but I guess the $1000 average shouldn’t have surprised me too much.  I knew a girl who had traveled to Italy to buy her prom dress, and I one of my friends rented a Rolls Royce for the fifteen minute drive from her house to the country club that hosted our prom.

Ironically my sister, who has a tendency to blow lots of money shopping, spent way less than I did on her prom three years ago.  She borrowed one of my cocktail dresses that I had bought for a wedding, so she didn’t spend a dime on her dress.  Instead of picking a fancy up-do, she picked a hairstyle that she could easily recreate on her own: a side pony-tail with large curls.  An artsy friend did her makeup, and she made sure her date paid for her dinner.  The only money she spent was on a $50 pair of shoes.

Did you go “all out”for your prom, or did you try to reign in the costs?

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Sometimes we take shortcuts just to save a little money.  This past week, my fiance was penny wise, pound foolish.

Last Friday, he called me at work to vent a little bit.  He was a little frustrated at his new boss.  Even though he accepted his RA position in February, his boss waited until last Friday to tell him that he needed to turn in his payroll documents the following Monday.  In order for him to turn in his payroll documents, he needed to have his orginal social security card.  Unfortunately, my fiance’s social security card was at his parents’ house, which was an hour and a half away.  He could have gone home over the weekend to pick it up and visit his family, but he had three final exams on Monday and two on Tuesday.  So, he called his parents to ask them to overnight his social security card and offered to pay them back.  Overall, he spent $5 on postage.  He checked the mail on Saturday; no social security card.  He checked again on Monday and Tuesday, still no card.  At this point it looks like it is lost in the mail.  He made a few mistakes to save a little bit of money:

  1. He used the US postal service.  It’s pretty common knowlege that USPS is less realiable than UPS or FedEx. 
  2. He didn’t want to spend an extra $7 to guarentee overnight delivery.  I’m not sure why USPS has an option to mail something overnight, but not guarentee delivery in the proper time window. 
  3. He didn’t pay extra number for a tracking number.  Now we have no idea where it is; his social security card could be anywhere.

So what were the consequences of trying save a little bit of extra cash?  The immediate consquence is that he couldn’t get his payroll paperwork in time, so he may not be able to start working or get paid right away.  I’m not quite sure how much that will cost us. The long term consequence is the possibility of ID theft, and the headache of dealing with that down the road.

Knowing myself, I would have proabably done the same thing to save a little bit of money.  We’ve learned our lesson.  Next time we have to mail an important document we will pay the extra money to get guarenteed overnight and to get a tracking number and delivery confirmation.

Have you ever been penny wise but pound foolish? What consequences of trying to save a little bit of money?

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?

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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