2012 Budget/First Quarter

I'm a little later than I meant to be working on our budget.  I wanted to check figures carefully to be sure we covered all we should in our planning.  That took a bit more time than I'd thought it would and frankly gave me a headache, too, as I had to look over multiple documents from 2011 to get a fix on what we paid out last year.

I found it interesting that we actually made more money last year than we have in year's past.  I was sharing with a group of homemakers that I didn't see how we could have, for we never felt an easing of the slight financial tension we normally experience but then I looked from our gross amount to the net amount and hey there's a big difference.  Taxes...ugh...is all I can think of to say.  And though we were diligent about putting money into savings this year we were removing some here and there as well due to various repairs and purchases that were over and above what we might have budgeted for such.  Well, as John says to me when we must dip into our savings, "That's what it's there for."  Indeed.  At least this year we put in more than we took out though it barely was more.  That balancing seesaw came awfully close to tittering too heavily down on one side.

I was surprised at the areas where we spent the most money too.  Some just weren't expected.  Our single biggest expense seems to be groceries, though I am sure I figured that higher than my actual spending.  I didn't keep the records of my spending as I used to do and frankly it's hard to say how much was actual grocery/household/personal care/pets spending and how much was extra cash for odds and ends.  Electricity, phones and cell phones, Home insurance, Car insurance, repayment of the loan we took from ourselves to buy the car (henceforth referred to as car payment),gasoline and allowances are all heavy figures as well.  However, despite subtracting all these figures I ended up with a balance that staggered me and really shocked my eyes open.  If we are on the same  financial course this coming year we should be able to pay back in full the amount we borrowed from ourselves for the car without undue straingin!  Now shouldn't I just love to look at John at year's end and say, "Oh look, we've repaid that loan... "?  You bet I would!

Taking those figures and looking over last year's record of deposits I'd say we should have a decent income for the first three months of this year.  Based upon that I've left the grocery budget at the higher end.  Intent is not to spend all that money, especially this month, but to see how much I can save.  If I can do what I'd like, I may be able to make 1 extra payment on that loan at the end of the quarter, and add extra to our vacation and Christmas fund accounts.

I will be keeping a more careful record of my grocery spending this year as well. I suspect that the first quarter of spending will pretty much set the pace for the rest of the year, so now is the time indeed to be diligent.  Remember last year, when I realized we had a mental set point for spending at Walmart which made me think carefully for future visits?  Well it worked wonders at helping me to decrease spending there and I mean to do the same thing with the grocery budget.  I'm going to shoot for a figure of about $80/week, which will be a decrease of 20% over what my figures show we spent last year.

I also eliminated one area of the budget entirely for 2012: the credit card.  We have been paying off the balance on a monthly basis but we used it most often in the past six months for items we've already budgeted our money to cover.  It's my intent to continue in that vein: have the money set aside before the card is used.

Finally I'm happy to report that we saw a small increase in a small income source that we have.  It's not much, but gracious it's been a few years since we saw the last increase and as this is a New Year, I'm taking it as a hopeful sign for the rest of our finances.

Well here's a toast to the New Budget:  May it come out in real life as well as it looked on paper!


Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

I have to sit down and do a financial review of last year and figure out this year. But I'm planning on doing that the end of this week when it's quieter around here - gotta concentrate!

Happy New Year Terri - yes I hope this year is better for us both!

Anonymous said...

I find that keeping a daily total of where the money goes and then adding up all the figures at the end of the month is a real eye-opener, especially if you do a number of categories, not just money spent at Wal-Mart, grocery store, etc. I have found that if we buy a gift card for the month from our favorite fast food place and then don't go there after the gift card is gone until the next month that I have set as a date to get a renewal. Even keeping track of such things as cosmetics, household cleaning items, etc. can shine a light on the money "holes". Grandma D.

BelleDiabolique said...

I need to sit down and do this. I really really do. I need to be able to give B a hard figure that he needs to stick to in his nickle and dimeing. Part of the problem is he uses another account when he wants to spend unaccounted for monies. This is good and bad in equal measure. For one, I pretend that money doesn't exist in the monthly budget and spending, but for another there isn't any money going into that account on a regular basis. So eventually it is going to run dry, and B is not going to have adjusted his spending habits appropriately. I think he'll be in for a culture shock.

Grandma D, that is a wonderful Idea. I wonder if I can get B to actually keep a tally of what he spends... That would really help narrow down problems areas for us.

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