Jun 04

Monthly Budget Review – May 2013

This is the fun part where you get to see how exactly I spent my money this month, and how well I stuck to my planned budget. I will also show how much ‘extra’ money I spent outside of my allotted entertainment budget that could have went to my student loans instead.

For now my budget is set to have $0 remaining at the end of the month, with every extra dollar going to my student loans but this will not be an exact science. My student loan payments are due not quite at the end of the month, so it will be hard to be perfect with this but I’m going to stick to the plan and try to throw as much money as possible at the student loans.

This month will also look a little weird as I told you in a previous post, I wanted to completely eliminate one of my smaller, high interest loans. I did this by pulling money out of my sizable ’emergency fund’ as I try to bring it down to a more reasonable level of 6 months worth of income. I’m currently living at home, so I think the amount I have sitting in my savings account is way too conservative for now.

Here is the breakdown for my budget this month:

Item Budgeted Actual Difference
Income $2,800.00 $2,800.00 $0.00
Rent -$100.00 -$100.00 $0.00
Car Insurance -$110.00 $0.00 $110.00
Cell Phone -$20.00 -$20.00 $0.00
Gas -$75.00 -$97.00 -$22.00
Gym -$20.00 -$20.00 $0.00
Entertainment -$100.00 -$100.00 $0.00
Total Income After Fixed Expenses $2,375.00 $2,463.00 $88.00
“Extra” Spending $0.00 -$357.00 -$357.00
Total Income Before Student Loans $2,375.00 $2,106.00 -$269.00
Student Loan Payments -$2,200.00 -$3,900.00 -$1,700.00
Total Remaining $175.00 -$1,794.00 -$1,969.00

I ended up being over budget by almost $1,800 – but this was done on purpose. I took that extra money out of my savings account and extra large emergency fund to completely pay off one of my private loans. I plan on doing this for a few months until I am able to get my emergency fund down a reasonable level, I do not want to actually spend more than I make in a normal monthly situation.

As you can also see the rent, cell phone, and gym payments will not change. There was no car insurance this month as I made my last payment for the ‘year’ last month and now I will have a few months where it will not have to be paid. I think I’m going to have to up the budgeted amount for gas money to around $100. It will end up being higher than my current budgeted amount most months with gas prices seeming to always be going up. With my current drive to work and visiting my girlfriend at college, it was too conservative.

I used up all $100 of my budgeted “entertainment” money for this month, and unfortunately because of the car problems I had this account for a significant amount of my extra spending. I also plan on adding in a $50 budget line item for dining out, that way I can see how much I use on that instead of just placing that into ‘extra spending’ after my $100 “entertainment” budget is all used up.

If you take out the $300 I had paid in fixing my cars, my entertainment budget was out $157, which is only $57 over my budgeted amount. I can’t complain with that at all. I definitely thought I was doing much worse, but maybe keeping track of all my spending helped me remind myself not to throw my money away! I would have still ended up with about $118 left over if I had not pulled extra money out of my savings account for the month. Once I add in a $50 item for eating out, I think that this will definitely be a more realistic budget that I can target going forward:

Item Budgeted
Income $2,800.00
Rent -$100.00
Car Insurance -$110.00
Cell Phone -$20.00
Gas -$100.00
Gym -$20.00
Dining Out -$50.00
Entertainment -$100.00
Total Income After Fixed Expenses $2,300.00
“Extra” Spending $0.00
Total Income Before Student Loans $2,300.00
Student Loan Payments -$2,000.00
Total Remaining $300.00

Photo Credits for this post: Charles Rondeau

Jun 03

Weekly Spending – 5/26/13 – 6/01/13

It’s that time of the week once again…let’s see how I did! My weekly spending for this week consists of the following:

Sunday 5/26:
Propane – $6
Camping Stove Hose – $20

Monday 5/27:

Tuesday 5/28:

Wednesday 5/29:

Thursday 5/30:
Gas – $20

Friday 5/31:
Lunch – $10

Saturday 6/01:

Total Week Spending: $62

This week did not include any car problems, which is always a good thing after the week I had last week. I also did not make any major purchases and tried to keep my spending to a minimum. I made another purpose for my camping trip that is coming up, buying some propane for the camping stove for $6.

When I went to test the stove, I realized that the shut off valve wasn’t really working. I tried some WD40, but that didn’t solve the problem. The hose and stove functioned fine other than that, but I figured it might be leaking propane while using it – or I’d forget to unscrew the little tank and the next day would be out of propane. I decided the best idea was to just buy the new hose, which cost $20. If you are going camping, it’s always important to check your gear before you leave!

I also filled up my gas tank on Thursday, which once again ran me $20. On Friday we went out for a co-workers birthday. I picked a relatively cheap item on the menu for $10, and just got water to go with it. I’d rather just bring lunch everyday, but it doesn’t really bother me if this only happens once or twice a month. At least I could save my leftovers until today and didn’t have to get anything ready on Sunday night.

 Photo Credits for this post: freeimageslive / baronsboy

May 30

Frugal Tips: Bing Rewards Review

bing rewards reviewI had mentioned in my previous weekly spending post that I had made a purchase off of Amazon, and I had a $5 gift card to make this even cheaper. I’m going to give you a tip on how exactly I managed to get this gift card, and how I keep a constant supply of these coming in while doing nothing out of my ordinary routine and taking only a few minutes or less of your extra time. And we all the know the important part of being financially independent is the fact that your time in life is much more valuable than your money.

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May 29

Weekly Spending – 5/19/13 – 5/25/13

It’s that time of the week once again…let’s see how I did! My weekly spending for this week consists of the following:

Sunday 5/19:

Monday 5/20:
Charcoal Chimney Starter – $12 – $5 Amazon GC = $7

Tuesday 5/21:

Wednesday 5/22:
Gas – $20

Thursday 5/23:
Car Repairs – $300

Friday 5/24:

Saturday 5/25:

Total Week Spending: $327

This week was everything going really well with my extra spending for the week looking to come in under $50, until the check engine light decided to come on in my car on Wednesday. My car had trouble accelerating at times, and it took a few times on the gas pedal around 20-30MPH where I would have to let off the gas pedal and try again. It would work perfectly fine for stretches on the way home, but then this would happen again and I knew I had trouble.

I took it to Autozone immediately and had them do the check engine diagnostics so that they could get a reading on the error code. It said that I had either a faulty camshaft position sensor or a crankshaft position sensor. They said it would be OK to drive in the short term, but obviously I shouldn’t bring it on the highway or do any long distance driving. I obviously did not plan on doing any of that and drove it straight home.

I did some research with my Dad to see if we would be able to do this ourselves, and it did seem relatively simple but they were both in awkward positions and unfortunately we didn’t know exactly which one was malfunctioning. We decided it was best to just take it to a mechanic. Of course having great luck – the mechanic replaced the camshaft sensor and the car still had problem, it turned out that both of the sensors had gone faulty!

This was some pretty bad luck, but I guess it could have been much worse. This is the first major problem I have had with my car, and I’m around 62,000 miles (bought used at around ~28,000) so I can’t complain. The total cost ended up being just shy of $300, putting a big dent into my monthly spending. I can’t wait until I am able to move out, hopefully to a location much closer to work enabling me to commute with bike and drastically cut down on the car usage.

I also purchased a smaller version of a charcoal chimney starter off of Amazon for my camping trip next month. We already have the larger one, but this one is portable and should pay for itself by eliminating the need to buy lighter fluid. I had also filled up my tank for $20 on Wednesday morning. I’m definitely hoping next week goes much smoother, no major purchases are in the plans.

Photo Credits for this post: Pixabay

May 24

Putting Your Wallet in Your Back Pocket

You might read this post title and think I’m trying to come up with some clever expression, but that is not the case here. I am literally talking about putting your wallet in your back pocket. This might be slightly off topic from my normal blog topics, but I had to share my new found knowledge with you! And hey, some of your money does have to go into your wallet doesn’t it (probably not as much as we’d like)?

Some of my coworkers and I had a discussion about wallet and key placement in pockets at work a few days ago. Super exciting conversation, right? I had never thought that anybody really did differently than me. It was one of those things where I just assumed that most everyone always put their wallet in their back pocket without even thinking about it.

Sure, when I visited a crowded city or went to a concert I would move my wallet to the front pocket – but this was only a temporary solution. Right after this, the wallet went right back to it’s normal location. But as I found out – ost of the people I talked to during this conversation keep their wallet in their front pocket, and someone actually mentioned that you could have a lot of problems later on in life with your hips, legs, back, etc. from years of sitting on your wallet.

This part of the conversation intrigued me, and I decided to do a little bit of research. I spend most of my day sitting in an office as well as driving in a car, though I don’t always sit directly on my wallet. A lot of the times it is somewhat off to the side, but I’m sure this still makes a difference. I’m not completely level on both sides in that case (especially because my wallet is so fat – I wish!).

The first article that I stumbled upon was this one from the BBC. It doesn’t really give any numbers or statistics, but they do recognize it as being an actual thing and the wallet in the back pocket being the cause. It definitely stresses the back pain part, and I know that my dad deals with that on a daily basis so it’s definitely something I’ve been trying to avoid.

The second article I found was in the NY Times. It once again re-iterated the chronic back and hip pain, and that definitely gets my attention. I also found several discussions on forums and other articles debating whether this is just an old wives tale or not, but it definitely seems to have some validity behind it and the logic makes sense.

Since reading these and talking with my coworkers, I have made an effort to start putting my wallet into my FRONT pocket all of the time. It just seems to make too much sense and if it can prevent problems down the road, it seems like a simple change. It is a bit frustrating for me though, as most people now have smartphones so they put that in one pocket and their wallet in the other. I, on the other hand am still rocking my ‘dumb’ phone so I also carry my iPod around with me for quick googling on WiFi. I also use it for listening to music in my car and the extreme cold in the winter is not good for the battery, and the extreme heat of the inside of a car is not good for electronics in general. So that’s why I keep the iPod in my pocket, forcing me to have slightly crowded pockets with the wallet moving to the front. I think this minor inconvenience is worth avoiding potential pains!

If you keep your wallet in your pocket, where do you keep it? Front or back?

Photo Credits for this post: Pixabay