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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Budgeting score – May


Again, this one’s going up late, although not as late as the March and April ones.  If things go well then I’ll able to stay on track now, and post the remaining months within a week or so of the month actually ending.  So here’s how things went in May.

Essentials Lifestyle Savings
Target score: 50% 30% 20%
Actual score: 63.7% 25.8% 10.5%
Still not brilliant considering my targets, but not bad when you consider how the past couple of months have gone.  I’m impressed that I managed to keep my lifestyle budget a good 4% under my target and it’s reassuring to know that my efforts to cut down on games, takeaways and other non-essentials is working well.  One problem that cropped up was a number of vet bills which ending up being paid for out of the holiday piggybank, which meant missing the holiday we’d planned for later in the month.  There was enough to cover them, but it’s not really an ideal situation.  If the operations had happened just a few weeks later, then we wouldn’t have had the money to pay for them on hand, which tells me that I really need to start putting money aside for an emergency fund.  Speaking of putting money aside, this month I re-evaluated the amounts I was putting into the separate budgets/piggybanks, and realised I could cut most of them in half. Takeaways and going out is nice and all, but I was shooting over my planned budget by so much each month that the only thing that made sense was to restrict it them to an even lower amount.  At least that way if I do go over budget the amount spent will still be lower than it might be.

This month I also made keeping track of my budgeting a little easier by writing a small program to turn my bank statements into data I can copy & paste into Excel in bulk.  It’s nothing fancy, but instead of copying out the name, date and amount of each transaction separately (and getting a bunch of other junk data wrapped up with it) I can just do the entire statement in one go, whether it’s a single week’s worth of data, or a whole month.  Work one of my hobbies into this made this a bit more enjoyable, so I’m going to tidy it up a bit, make it more useful to people who aren’t me and then post it online.  If I can I make keeping track of my budget actually fun then things will become far easier.

In other news I realised that I might just be able to stay out of my overdraft entirely this month.  It’ll be a pretty tight week, but if I manage it this’ll be the first month where I’ve stayed out of the red since I started working.  The budgeting course is due to finish in the first few days of July too, so I should have a better idea of what to do with my savings now that they’re not just paying off debt.  It’ll be pretty damn close, but I think I can make it.  Scratch that, another last-minute visit to the emergency vet means this won’t happen.  What I will make sure happens though is me re-evaluating all my budgets again and setting up an emergency fund.

May’s final score:

5/10 – Starting to recover

Past scores: January – 7/10 February – 5/10 March – 3/10 April – 3/10

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Budgeting, Self-Improvement

 

Budgeting score – April


As I’m posting this more than a month after my last budgeting report, which was itself a month late, I think I need to give some sort of explanation.  Basically, I got lazy.  As explained in my last post I wasn’t doing well with my budget in March, which made me reluctant to write the report for that month.  That immediately led into me pretty much ignoring how I was doing with April’s budget until nearly the end of the month.  I managed to scrape it together before the month’s end, but that was mostly from transferring money out of the accounts put aside for big purchases for some time in the future, which is something I told myself I wouldn’t do and ideally will never do again.

Essentials Lifestyle Savings
Target score: 50% 30% 20%
Actual score: 61.9% 31.7% 6.4%
Compared to last month it might start to look like I’ve cut down my spending in the Lifestyle budget, but the reality is that items which used to go fully into that group (like petrol and other travel costs) are now split between Lifestyle and Essentials.  This should help me keep track of which problem areas I need to clamp down on.  One thing I definitely need to improve on is cash withdrawals, as I’ve not been keeping track of where I’m spending my cash, and it’s difficult to remember how much I spent on what after the fact.  Currently around 8% of my income seems to turn into cash, which quickly vanishes into thin air.  That’s quite a hefty chunk to lose track of, and going forward I’ll be keeping a closer eye on where it’s going.
I started to get things back on track for May (which I’ll talk about next week), and this was mostly thanks to starting a free open university course recommended to me by my friend Drew.  It helped get me back into the right mindset and taught me a few key tricks to avoid spending that I’ve heard several times before, but somehow manage to forget about after a few weeks later.  It’s reminded me about what I’ve forgotten and is teaching me new things in the process.  I highly recommend it for anyone who’s interested in learning how to manage their money.  You can find the course here – Managing my Money.
April’s final score:

3/10 – Poor Effort…  Again!

Past scores:

January – 7/10

February – 5/10

March – 3/10

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Budgeting, Self-Improvement