2012 Budget/First Quarter
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!