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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Overdid it this month

So November isn't quite over yet, and already, I've blown through my monthly budget. My method of budgeting is pretty loose. I earn X dollars. Every month, I put Y dollars into long term savings (and make retirement account contributions). Everything left (let's call it Z dollars) goes into a short term savings account to be spent throughout the month, though the plan is always to have money left over so I'm increasing my savings even more.

November? I spent Z dollars. And then I spent more than Z dollars. Not by a lot, only about $50 or so, and technically, part of that was shipping some bar exam review materials to a friend who who bought the books off of me, and when she pays me, the check will be more than $50. But still. The spending was a little out of control this month. Of course, because I always try to have money left over at the end of the month, the extra money just comes from the money I didn't spend last month, so I didn't go into debt or have to delve into any of my long term savings accounts.

Regardless, it was definitely a wake-up call. Normally, I manage to stay well within my budget. While I put money into short term savings so I can spend over my monthly budget on occasion, that is designed for special expenses, like plane tickets, for example.

So what am I doing to fix this problem? First off, I printed out a categorized list of all my expenses for the month. A quick glance told me that a chunk of my spending came from gift purchases, both Christmas and birthday gifts. Ok, so that was unusual spending. But what else was there? I spent more than normal on groceries, and while a bit of that was purposeful stocking up, some of it was frivolous treats. So that's something to watch for December. I also spent a chunk of money on dining out. While I do budget for meals out with friends, I also noticed a number of meals that I picked up on the run. That's not something my budget or my waistline needs. Of course, it wasn't a large amount of money, but all those little things do add up. And last, but not least, I did some Black Friday shopping. Again, not much (I spent under $100), but it all adds up.

So the goal for December is to spend less than I normally spend, to truly watch what I'm buying and try to make smart choices. After all, my new savings plan starts in January. I need to get ready!

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