Sunday, June 29, 2008

Always Something . . .

It seems like there is always something that comes up. First, it was the hail damage to my car. I thought that was all taken care of. I paid my deductible and got my car back looking like new. Now today I checked my credit card statement only to find out the my insurance company did not pay my entire rental car bill. Of course, being Sunday, the people at the rental car place and the insurance agency are not able to help, and I have to call back on Monday. It's not like my Monday was not busy enough already!!

I feel like grocery prices are really impacting my budget. For medical reasons, I have to follow a special diet. This means that I can't always just buy what's on sale at the store each week and make it work in order to save money. I make a trip once a month to Trader Joe's to get certain items that are approved for my diet that I can only get there. I then shop at a lower end grocery store, Walmart, and Target the rest of the month. I have noticed an increase in price in a number of my basic food items I buy each month. I will either have to adjust my budget or adjust what I am eating.

I had two of my four cavities filled at the dentist this week. I have the others scheduled for a few weeks from now. It is so expensive to get cavities filled even when you have dental insurance. I brush multiple times a day, floss 4 times a week, and use mouthwash everyday. I guess I better get to flossing more or something. Good thing I have money set aside in savings for medical/dental bills. It still hurts though!!

I feel like I need to cut back somewhere to make up for all of these things, but I don't know where I can cut. I really try not to spend money unless I have to. I did rent two movies on Friday night from Redbox. I used a code though, so I only paid $1.07 total. I think I deserved that since work and finances are stressing me out lately.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My Budget

As promised here is a look at my current budget (which includes my merit increase) and the details behind it.

Category Amount Notes
Rent $1,080.00 **For my area, this is normal since I live alone. I wish it was lower!
Student Loans 90.56
Car Loan 368.50
Extra on Car Pmt 35.00 **I take any extra from other categories to apply here each month.
Insurance 68.12 **Car insurance and renter's insurance
Gas 140.00
Oil Change 8.00
Car Registration 9.19
Gas Bill 17.81 **Budget monthly average instead of actuals by month
Electric Bill 30.00 **Budget monthly average instead of actuals by month
Internet 45.95
Cable 40.00
Food 120.00 **This includes groceries and eating out
Monthly Spending 77.00
Apt/PHP Items 15.50 **Items needed for personal hygiene and my apartment
Doc Appts 10.00
Medications 7.00
Haircut 9.00
Clothes 25.00
Golf 10.00
Gifts 25.00
Savings for Taxes 8.33
Savings 400.00

Total 2571.84

All of the items highlighted in blue are those which do not occur monthly. They may be once per quarter or annually. I budget for them each month though. This makes me feel better so that I don't have to all of the sudden find money for one of them at the end of the year. I buy gifts throughout the year, but I budget $25.00 each month so that I don't have to come up with extra money around Christmas time to buy gifts for my family.

My monthly spending category is for going out with friends, renting movies, and anything else that I would want to do during the month.

My food budget may seem rather low to some people, but it works for me. I do not buy any premade items, so all of my meals require cooking. I try to cook on Sunday, so that I have leftovers for the rest of the week. I also do my grocery shopping on Sunday once I look through the ads and make my list based on those ads.

The savings category is used for a number of things. I divide it out each month based on where I need/want it to go the most at that time. Some of the categories which it ends up in are my emergency fund, travel fund, car repair/emergency, extra towards my car loan, new technology fund, moving fund, etc. This works best for me because then I can evaluate each month where I might need the money most since of these funds are ones which I may not need to add too unless I take money out or they are not used that often.

I know that this budget may seem rather long and odd to some, but it works for me. I think that's the most important part. I have been budgeting like this for a number of years now. I try to avoid surprises, so it works for me to budget for the annual items all year long. I have thought about combining some of the smaller items (like car registration, savings for taxes, and gifts) into my larger savings amount, but so far I have not done that.

I am saving for retirement through my 401k. Between what I am contributing and the company match, I have a total of 14% of my salary going towards retirement each year. I would like to start an IRA in the near future, but I have other things that I am concentrating on right now.

I am not putting an extra towards my student loans until my car is paid off. The interest rate on my student loans is less than what I am making on my savings each month, so I am not too worried about those right now.

I would love to hear your thoughts on my budget!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

This Past Week

It's been a little bit since I have updated on the happenings in my life. It's been a busy week.

First, we have been having a number of storms in the area. My car was severely damaged by hail last weekend. I was told by the auto body shop that they should be able to fix it. They will have to replace a number of the parts though. Luckily, I have insurance to cover hail damage. It does mean that I will have to pay my deductible though. I do have a certain portion of my savings account set aside for car related repairs/emergencies, so that helps. It's very time consuming taking care of getting your car fixed, dealing with the insurance company, and getting a rental car. They said that it will take a couple of weeks to repair my car. I take very good care of my car, so it's hard to be without it and have a rental. I can't wait to get my car back. I just hope it turns out looking like it did prior to the hail damage.

Second, I received my annual review and merit increase at work this week. Even though I knew it was coming up, it's still makes me nervous. The review went really well, and the merit increase was what I expected. There are days where I feel that I deserve to be paid more, but when I consider benefits and flexibility at my company, I like where I am at for pay. The merit increase resulted in having to re-work my monthly budget. Part of the increase is going to my grocery fund due to rising food prices. The rest is going towards debt in order to pay that off sooner.

Last, I increased by 401k contributions this week. I decided to put more in my 401k since I don't feel that I can fully fund an IRA at this point in my life. I thought that putting more in my 401k was better than doing nothing right now. It's a nice feeling to know that I am saving for retirement, but it also makes me nervous when I come home and hear about how bad the stock markets did today. At least I am young and have time for things to turn around.

I will try to post my budget this weekend so that everyone can see how I budget things out each month. I will explain the details of it soon!