Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Budgeting-- How'd we do?

I recently posted about our plan to start budgeting using a cash envelope system.  We have just completed our first month with the plan, and I am really excited about how well it went!  It really did affect the way we made decisions about how we would spend our money.  There were many occasions when eating out or ordering a pizza sounded nice, but we decided to stick with the budget. When I would plan for our weekly meals, there were things I decided not to make because the ingredients would be more expensive.  We have also been buying fewer sweets and snacks since most of our money goes toward food purchases to make actual meals.  Towards the end of the month, we still had some money left in our "random" category, so we decided to splurge ($20) by eating out with some friends.   Even then, we decided to share an entree.  We really didn't have to (budget-wise), but something about being thrifty throughout the month made us want to be frugal even in our "splurging."  For the most part, I feel like I have correctly allocated funds to each category.  Here they are, as a reminder.

Groceries: $300
Out to eat: $25 
Entertainment: $10
Random: $145
Medical and Toiletries: $45 

This month, we had to "borrow" from different categories a few times, but overall, we came out $38 over (which was the remainder of the random category).  I decided to go ahead and make the random category rollover into the next month.  We didn't have a whole lot of miscellaneous expenses this month, but somehow, we ended up spending most of the money there.  I think that rolling the money over will help to cover the expenses of things that come up which may be a bit pricey (household maintenance costs, car repairs, ordering contacts for Ryan once a year, etc.  The grocery category was  bit challenging to stay within as well.  We had a big grocery trip yesterday which I am counting as part of March's grocery budget, so we ALMOST made it a whole month on just $300.  Rather than upping the amount, I am going to keep it as a goal for March and see if careful planning will get us there.  If, after a few months, we are still having a hard time staying within that amount, I will go ahead and change it.  The best part of this month's budgeting, though, was getting online tonight to make a payment on one of Ryan's student loans!  What a nerdy thing to get excited about, right?  It is really motivating to have that goal in mind and to actually be paying off that debt a little more quickly than we would if we just paid the minimum payments.  Based on our income and new budgeting system, we should be able to put an extra $500-$600 towards student loans every month.  I so wish that we could be one of those Dave Ramsey stories of a couple who pays off like $30,000 of debt in 18 months, but with the amount of debt we have and the rate at which we are paying it off, it will likely take us much much longer.  But, I still believe we are making the right choice by getting our finances in line and knowing where our money is going each month.

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