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Revised budget

February 20, 2008

I’m still open to suggestions on my budget, but taking into consideration comments, I’ve already made some tweaks. For those items that are more “occasional” I still want to set aside an average monthly cost.

Here it is, as it stands now:

Net $3025
Expense Budget
Rent $1425
E-fund $150
Roth IRA $325
Cable/Internet $60
Student Loan $133
Utilities $30
Restaurants $75
Grocery $120
Gas $110
Entertainment $60
Clothes $50
Home $20
Personal $20
Gift $75
Travel $100
Insurance $110
Car $150
Left $22

Suggestion: Reducing dining out budget by bringing lunch to work.
I already bring lunch, but I realized that dining out and entertainment were used quite similarly–for dates with T, occasional outings, and perhaps beer/wine now and then. I left dining out at $75 giving us about $25 for the two of us each week, he pays once a month. Or bi-weekly if we want a more expensive meal. In light of that, I reduced entertainment to $50. Unless I do decide to join some classes on my dime, that’ll be enough for now.

Suggestion: Reduce/Eliminate Home budget
The “home” category has been sliced from $50 to $20. I have gotten settled into my apartment and should be able to spend just $20 month on things like cleaning supplies, new towels, and random stuff I want to finish decorating. Also, I still need to do laundry! I do need this money, and $20 might not even be enough. But I’ll try it out for now.

Adjustment: Added $20 Personal budget
However, I realized I have no budget for haircut/shampoo/make-up, which on average will also be $20/mo, assuming relatively cheap haircuts and no more highlights. So I added a “personal” category. I already think I need to increase this a bit to be realistic, but I won’t yet.

Suggestion: Reduce the cable by $30 by getting rid of it.
I’ve debated this heavily (with myself) since I ordered it. The cable is a really good deal right now–all channels+DVR for just $30/month. I’m leaving it for the moment, but I do think I’ll cancel it. Once it is for sure canceled, it’ll be removed from budget.

Adjustment: Gifts increased to $75/mo.
I did a quick rundown of what I expect to buy in gifts this year, and $50/mo won’t cut it, unless I ignore Christmas. Actually the total was more like $90/mo. but that seems so ridiculous that I won’t budget that much for now.

Adjustment: Car Fund decreased to $150.
I probably won’t be buying a new car anytime soon, but I do want to get a fund started. Some of the “extra” paychecks might get a portion diverted this way. This will also cover maintenance so I really won’t build up much over the year.

I really would like to have $100 in the “Misc” category just to give some breathing room. I’m going to reduce the 401k contributions to 14% for now, which still gives only (estimated) $22 in leftover. If cable goes away, that is $52, which makes me pretty happy. If that is still too tight of a budget, I will decrease it another percentage. My original 2008 plan only had 10% withholding, so 15% is quite an increase. I like to figure out how much I can afford to withhold in this way–shoot high, and adjust lower if necessary.

I’m saving more than I did last year, both as a percentage of income and dollar amount. I don’t think 14% in 401k contributions in addition to 5k in a Roth is at all cheating myself out of retirement, especially since I’m starting nice and young. If I do start grad school in the fall, the $133 student loan payment will disappear, and perhaps I can up the contribution by several percentages for the last few months of the year.

To avoid constant budget updates in the main content of my blog, I am going to track my budget in my fancy new budget tab each month. It is up for February, but not quite accurate yet. I think this will really help me to understand if I’m coming within my budget. I’ve set budgets before, but I have a really hard time actually making use of them…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2008 7:03 pm

    I track my spending in an old pearbudget spreadsheet… so far it’s working okay.

    Regarding the rent, it’s probably the norm for a 1-bedroom in your neighborhood. A month before your lease is up, if you are interested in moving, you should check out craigslist. Sometimes good deals can be found there. I don’t think it’s unsual to have $1200-$1300 1-beds and $900+ bachelor/studios. It takes good timing (luck), and of course the vast majority of them won’t be as nice as your place.

    By the way, love the wordpress site! I gotta remember to update your link…

  2. February 21, 2008 12:46 pm

    You might try combining some things to see if you get a deal. Insurance policies (car and renters/homeowners insurance), Bundled services (internet/cable/phone) etc.

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