So. My maternity leave is officially over – as in, I’m not getting paid for any remaining time off. I’m currently out of work under FMLA – the Family Medical Leave Act. I received my last pay check today, before I return to work in 2+ weeks. And the check was only half of a check.
I was smart about things before going out on leave. I saved enough money to cover the mortgage for two months, and to equal a paycheck or two. I don’t want to deplete my savings, though, and I am putting myself on a pretty strict budget for the month. (We also have an emergency fund, so it’s not like I’m desperate to do this, but I don’t want to dip into the emergency fund.)
With the holidays coming up, I really want to be smart. So for the next few weeks, I’m documenting my spending, and sharing with you how I’m doing. I’m using this as a way to keep myself accountable too. I’ll be pretty proud of myself if I can really do this!
I keep a spreadsheet with every purchase listed, and how much I have for each category – the spreadsheet has more than what I’m detailing here (such as the mortgage, and savings). And I’m not accounting for any extra money I may get for freelance work. I’m hoping I can stay under/within budget with what I’ve already made and saved.
So here goes….
$209 Budgeted ~ $209.99 actual
This is the largest part of my budget. This isn’t including the mortgage, but it does include my cell phone, electric and cable. It’s a lot. I normally allot $209 plus the mortgage for this category. With everything I just listed, I’m over by 99 cents. Not too bad, I guess…
The problem with this category is that electric always changes. It may go down over the next few months since we’ll be using more gas than electric. Also what’s a little deceiving is that we split the bills – the mortgage, electric, gas, cable/internet. It usually evens out, but you won’t see gas on my budget.
One way I’m looking at cutting this category is through cable. I need to call them and see about scaling back even more. We don’t watch it enough, but need basic channels because an antenna won’t work in our neighborhood. (And I do need the news.)
$210 budgeted ~ $100 actual
During a normal month, I’d budget $140 every two weeks for groceries. I noticed I wasn’t spending that full $140, so I thought I’d try for $100 every two weeks. Now I’m really hoping to stick to that (or under) by using coupons and shopping the sales. We don’t buy cheap food, either. Our meat, for instance, is usually organic/grass-fed or local. It’s pricier, but worth it to me. Also, I take cash out for groceries, so that’s why the “actual” amount is so exact.
Eating out doesn’t go under this category. I include that under social.
$168.50 budgeted ~ $44.59 actual
This includes most of my Target trips, and I’ve started including some of Lucas’s items under this category. We stocked up on stuff for him before he was born, he has a ton of clothes (and we just received more yesterday) and we don’t have to buy him food yet. So he’s pretty cheap at the moment!
$76.50 budgeted ~ $31 actual
This is the category that is sometimes hardest for me. I saved a lot in September because I couldn’t leave the house. Now that I’m driving again, Lucas and I are visiting with people at lunchtime. That has to stop (and is stopping since we’ve started inviting people over for lunch – or getting together outside of meal times.)
I use this category for gifts as well, and the $31 is towards Christmas gifts.
$94.25 budgeted ~ $11.73 actual
This is for the little things like furnace filters, light bulbs, random items we need for the house. I don’t always hit this one (and normally this category would include internet, but cable/internet are a combined bill and I moved money over to the housing category to cover internet.)
$54.25 budgeted ~ $0 actual
I have some money left over from my birthday that I was told to spend on clothes. That isn’t in this budget. I may do okay because a lot of my old work clothes fit again.
$250.75 budgeted ~ $0 actual
My car taxes are due this month, and I’ll have to buy gas, but I suspect I’ll be way under on this category. It’s good, though. Any extra goes into a separate money market account I have set up for a new car. I haven’t had a car payment in several years, and we’d like to keep it that way.
There you have it. So far, so good!