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First month budgeting – Failing!

March 25, 2008

The month is coming to a close and I’m running out of money in pretty much all areas of my budget. I have $20 left for grocery, and in theory, I’m supposed to buy groceries for the first week in April out of March’s budget. I have no food for the rest of this week, I’m going to the store tonight.

Entertainment and miscellaneous categories, which I planned to use for any overruns, will be eaten up by my vacation this past weekend. I really want to buy some new work clothes this weekend, as T has some free time to help me pick out nice things, but $30 isn’t going to get me far. Would it be ridiculous to take next months clothes budget before next month started? I’m a budgeting failure, though I started out the month so well!

I got my first utility bill since moving into my apartment on January 15th. I’m not sure what the hold up was, but I didn’t question it. It was about $28, including a $10 “new account few” (annoying) for sewer, water, trash and some random “service fee”. I’ve yet to get an electricity bill, but again, I’m not going to question it unless they turn off my lights. I budgeted $30 for utilities, so this seems to be right, unless they surprise me with my first electric bill.

Worse, I got a bill from IBM for $118 for not returning the broken laptop battery when they replaced the old one under warranty. I’m a little annoyed at this, because I sent the whole laptop in, and they sent it back saying “battery is not functioning”, but did not replace the battery for me, even though it was still covered. After a phone call, they sent me a battery, and I remember with regret what I did with the old one…

The movers had come to my apartment in Iowa, and they left the small box that I’d yet to get DHL to pick up. I was throwing out other junk, so I thought to myself “They haven’t asked for this back. They probably don’t care what I do with it. It’s cold out and I have no room for this in my suitcase” Then I threw it in the garbage, along with other junk not worth moving cross country. Imagine my dismay to get a letter a month later requesting the battery. Sure, it was stupid of me to just toss it, but I am only claiming 75% responsibility. They should have just replaced it when they had my laptop! And I moved across the country!

This isn’t in the budget. I’ll just take it out of savings (not efund, just general savings), no big deal, but still annoying. So far this year, I have spent $157 on stupidity/disorganization ($118 + $39). Let’s hope this is the end of that!

(New idea: Maybe I can buy a battery off the internet for less than $118 and ship them that… Hmmmm… I see them for about $50 with shipping on ebay. I’m going to contact them ASAP!)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2008 8:14 am

    Maybe you can still go clothes shopping this weekend, but only put things on lay-away until the first of the month. Then you can go back to the stores at the beginning of next month and pay it off out of next month’s budget.

  2. March 25, 2008 8:23 am

    I think it’s OK to use money from next month’s clothing budget- if you aren’t going to totally penniless because of it. Try not to stress too much about being over in your budget items. Getting those amounts reasonable can be tough and it can take a few months.

    What I do is for certain line items (alcohol, for example), if we’re under budget, the extra amount rolls into the next month for use then. This works well for us since we don’t buy beer/wine every month. On the other side, if we do buy beer/wine and we end up spending more than we had budgeted, that just means that we either have $0 for the next month or we’re in a negative amount, which will get built up as the months go along.

    I think this makes it easier to stick to the budget and not get too frustrated. This is the same theory that You Need a Budget (http://www.youneedabudget.com/) uses.

  3. March 25, 2008 10:02 am

    Don’t call yourself a failure! Its only your first month of following a budget, and from what I’m told it takes a few months before you get it right…plus your actual expenses will always vary.

    As for the clothes I agree with the first two comments. I would ahead and go shopping, making sure to not exceed what you have allocated for next month. You probably won’t be able to go shopping next month though. It sounds like T doesn’t usually have free time to go shopping with you, so it’d be a good trade-off.

    It would’ve never occured to me to do that with the battery!! Lol. They’re probably upcharging you anyway, so I’d try and get back as much as I can. The only thing, do batteries have serial numbers? I’d check that first. (But what do I know? hehe)

  4. March 25, 2008 11:27 am

    Stackingpennies, I think you’re doing great! Do you know how many people out there don’t even have a budget, and really, really need one???

    I find that I have to ‘tweak’ my budget throughout the month, to make up for unexpected situations. Also, earlier this month I spent a week in Mexico (this made me want to be financially independent even more than before!) and I used a separate budget for this (I used my tax refund and a ‘forgotten’ savings account to fund the trip). This helped me keep my travel costs separate from my every day living costs.

    Another thing I’ve done (this is my second month) is start a zero-based budget, to try to allocate each penny before it ever gets into my sticky little hands. I have my March budget up on my site, if you’d like to take a look.

    Best of luck, and it looks to me like you’re doing fine! You’ve got a very healthy EF, and your retirement accounts are growing. I wish I’d been as smart as you are when I was 27! Keep it up!

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