Thursday, July 31, 2014

Budget Struggles

Today is my fifth payday on the envelope system. In the last two months, I've been a lot more conscious of how I spend my money and I've been spending a fraction of what I had been accustomed to spending, but couldn't necessarily afford.

This last month, however, was a lot more difficult than June. When I added up how much I had spent through July 21st, I was only one quarter shy of what I had spent through the entire month of June. In other words, I was on track to spend a bit more money that I had spent the previous month, especially since I was going on vacation to New York City the last week of the month. However, $130 of that was spent on clothes, whereas I didn't even spend $60 on clothes in June. I acknowledge there were some contributing factors for the increase in spending: Fourth of July and some birthdays, catching up with friends (over a meal or drinks), and starting to date a little bit. But those are times I need to balance with less frivolous spending. What really got me, though, was buying two new tanks at the Pure Barre studio. Did I really need the same tank in both colors? Probably not. I truly didn't need either of them, but I bought them both and I love them both. And that's why I budget for clothes.

Then I went to New York City. I didn't want to return from my trip wishing I had done things that I didn't actually do, so I tried not to hold back. I ate out every meal (but didn't really eat before noon any day I was there) and even though I stumbled upon some more expensive restaurants, I also ate lunch for $2.75 one day. And it was delicious! Anyway, now that my trip is over, I feel like I only wasted $40. That breaks down to $17 on food and $23 on transportation. I shouldn't have stopped at Chipotle on my way to the airport or bought a $7 side of breakfast potatoes, especially after I was stuffed from the most amazing pancakes in the world. I should have just bought an unlimited MetroCard the second I left the airport instead of buying a $10 card and then purchasing the 7-day $30 unlimited card the next day. And I definitely shouldn't have taken a cab when I was only 1 block from a subway station and didn't know it. But, you live and learn. And in the grand scheme of things, "wasting" $40 isn't the end of the world. I do wish, however, that I had spent less money--especially on eating out--leading up to my trip.

I do have a "vacation" envelope that I pay into each month. Unfortunately, since I only had 4 paydays between starting the envelope system and going on vacation, it had only accrued $40, but in the future, it would be much more beneficial in subsidizing some of those costs on vacation.

Money has always been important to me. Ever since I got my first real job--and before that when I was babysitting and earning allowance--I felt that it was necessary to spend my money. I had to get a job in order to get my driver's license, so I spent money on gas. But I wanted to be cool and go out to lunch with my friends or just be social in general. That meant spending money a lot of the time. Money is important to me in a different way now. I want to change the way I think about money and focus more on long-term goals and plans rather than not being able to tell myself no when I get a craving for Chipotle. (I seriously used to go to Chipotle like four times a week in high school. Back when you could get a steak burrito for like $6 though.) I want to be able to start my life with someone debt-free. I don't want to bring financial baggage to a marriage and I would hope my future husband feels that same responsibility. I want to buy a house someday and get a new car and I want to continue to have a good credit score. None of those things will be helped by frivolous spending and even though those things seem so far off into the distance (I seriously don't even want to look for a new car until 2017 just to prove my mom wrong), I will feel very silly if one day I can't afford something major in life because I ate at Chick-Fil-A ten times a month.

I'm hoping that August will be a little bit better in terms of spending less. Despite the increase in spending, I was still okay percentage wise. In the first week of the month, I spent 64% of what I had spent the previous six months. (Including June in the average dropped each figure significantly.) In the second week, I spent 52% of what I had before. In the third week, I spent 69% of what I had spent before. In the fourth week, I spent 231% of what I had spent before. And for the month total, I spent 104% of my average spending for the previous six months.

Needless to say, August is going to be all about getting back on track with my budget and "recovering" from that vacation spending. I'm happy to have come home with memories and maybe fewer dollars in my pocket than clinging to those bills and sacrificing experiences that I could have had while exploring the Big Apple.

Read my other budget posts here:


  1. Trying to stay on budget is a constant struggle! At least you have a plan!

  2. August is going to be the same for me as well!

  3. We just sat down today and revamped how we are doing our budget. While on one hand it gave me a headache... But on the other hand, I feel so much relief just by having a plan in mind and it seeming obtainable. Hopefully, August will be a good month for everyone all around. Thank goodness for 5 Friday's too!