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Dee’s $2000 a Month Budget Update – First Month’s Results

The following is another update post from Some Art Teacher (aka Dee) from Losing Stuff Gaining Freedom.  You can check out the original post about creating the $2000/month budget.  It’s $2000 in expenses along with $1000 for savings and $200 savings for her car fund.  She’s aiming to save $1000 per month as a public school teacher so she can afford to buy her own trailer in cash and have an emergency fund by August 2014.

Quick Backstory

Good morning, everyone!

This is Dee again reporting for your one month check in, budget paper in hand. If you remember, Crystal helped me create a budget.  If I stick to it, I should be able to live off about $2000 a month and save the rest. I have been tracking, and I even sent in an update about half way through the last 30 days in hope of letting her know how great it was going, and as a thank you for helping me set all the numbers in place to reach my goals.

Well, here’s how the month turned out:

Dee's First Month's Budget

This is how the first month turned out operating on my $2000 per month budget plus savings. :-)

Budget Breakdown for the Month

I spent over what I budgeted in two areas – my miscellaneous account and my car insurance account.  But the car insurance was only because I paid 6 months in advance to get a larger discount.  My miscellaneous account is my pet peeve though. This month, I had to buy more medication than I was expecting, but there always seems to be something.  It’s like my kryptonite.  What accounts do you struggle with?  What do y’all do when have surprise expenses? In my case, I used past money I had already earned but am hoping in the future to avoid that.

I was off on some of my budgeted amounts, which means that although I was okay for this month, future months could have issues.  Like my electricity was over, so I can expect that to be much higher in the warmer months next year.   But for this month, I was lucky enough to have some spare cash sitting around.

Tracking

I also struggled with how often I should track my budget. How often do you financially savvy people track your actual budgets? Is that something that you choose to do daily or do you start to get a feel for it over time?  I am using a tracking program on the phone that I enjoy, but not enough to use it daily.  Is there ever a point where you reach that sense of knowing where you are at financially or do you all balance your books to find out?

Well, wish me luck as I enter month two. I intend to keep this budget up!

Crystal’s Note:  Given the issues that Dee mentioned, here is what changes I would suggest as she enters month two…

Dee's Suggested 2nd Month Budget

Here’s what I suggest trying for Month 2. :-)

What do you think?  Have any answers for her questions?  What accounts do you struggle with?  What do you do when have surprise expenses?  How often do you track your actual budgets – daily, monthly, etc.?

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8 comments to Dee’s $2000 a Month Budget Update – First Month’s Results

  • MikeS

    I record my purchase daily. I spent a quick 5 minutes every morning logging into my accounts and putting everything into my spreadsheet. I only make changes to the budget when there is a change in money, usually salary changes.

    I handle irregular bills like electric and food, by placing my budgeted amount in my savings account. Then when the bill comes in, I pull whatever the amount is needed out of savings and into checking for payment. Over the long run, this works out because I’ve planned for the average over the course of the year. I keep track of all my savings buckets in a spreadsheet. There are occasions when I have a bucket that is negative (my car taxes are like that right now)but since my overall savings has money in it, I’m not worried.

    I don’t think I’ll every get to the point where I stop tracking, as I enjoy it. There may come a time where I don’t care how much is spent, but I’ll always know how much is spent.

  • Interesting that you’re over-budget, but it’s mostly because you did something that will make you spend less in the long run. Why not just spread that car insurance expense over the next few months? Or add a line that creates pre-paid car insurance as an asset that you amortize away each month?

  • Thanks for sharing Dee :)

    As I have said on more than a few occasions, the cool thing about having very little money is that I end up having very little expenses. Rent, food, utilities and public transport when needed is all I spend my money on…with the occasional breakfast brunch with friends thrown in for good measure.

    I’ve tried keeping up a spread sheet style budget but found I kept on forgetting to add things, so I just decided that my budget would be whatever cash I had in my pocket on any given day or week. Simple and effective…at least for me :)

    Take care and best to luck for the month of November@

    Lyle

  • I spend way too much money on Food. I don’t think I even have hope at this point lol!

    One thing I do for my savings, is I try to cut something out or down every once in a while. For example, I worked on my cell phone plan a few months back and was able to save a bit there.

  • Dee

    Thank you so much for all your comment

    @MikeS: I am finding that I enjoy the “freedom” that having a budget gives me. I belive though that I need to start tracking daily. Then I will always know day to day if it is really worth buying the oatmeal and fruit cup on the way to work.

    @Debt BLAG: I want to keep paying into that part as if I hadn’t paid my insurance so that the next time, I will already have that amount all saved up and nice in an account. That was my thought process there.

    @Lyle: Do you have long term savings? I like the simple ease of spending what’s in my pocket but if I actually do that.. I spend everything and won’t ever be able to get my trailer. In fact, on my phone, I have a picture of an airstream to remind me why I don’t just buy all the artsy stuff I love.

    @Martin: I think that if you are making the choice to splurge there, then it’s ok. I am of the belief that money itself is not the goal. It just so happens that most the goals I have require some money. I am actually going to address chosen splurges on my site Monday. Congratulations on your cell phone savings!

  • Dee

    I am looking at my budget form.. Crystal is helping me make it clearer for next month. Basically, I went over about 280 from what I meant to spend. This next month I need to pull that down to 0.

  • Coming from a business accounting standpoint, you should spread the amount you paid for car insurance over the time you have paid for. If you budgeted $80, and paid a one-time amount for six months, you’ve paid the equivalent of 64.50 each month, which will bring you in under budget for that category each month.

    You shouldn’t count paying ahead of time against yourself.

    If you want to count this month as a precursor to future budgeting, you could take it as a loss (over budget) and you could keep putting 64.50 or $80 into savings each month for the express purpose of paying car insurance with it again when it is time to renew.

  • Dee

    @Imber- I am documenting where money is actually going atm so atm I have spend that huge chunk of money and am putting the other money in a sub account. That is why it’s listed that way. Next time the payment comes around, I will have to make sure that I don’t take it out in the huge chunk so I don’t double hit myself for the same item. It may be to the point where I need to have 3 columns. One for estimated debits and credits, one for actual debits and one for actual credits.. So I can show where my money is going savings wise ect. The other thing I need to do is include the money I had from before that sits in my visible accounts (vs 403b accounts or cds)