Budgeting Blues

The first thing that all PF bloggers talk about is the budget. I am really good at making budgets. The first time I made one (about 4 months back), I analyzed the spending of the past couple months and categorized them into various segments. I then allotted an amount to each of the categories and there I had my budget all ready.

But the month finally ended, and I decided to check how we had fared, I found it very difficult to do it. For once, we use about 3-4 different cards for different things like rewards. I found it difficult to get activity from all those cards on to my Excel worksheet. And then the categorizing issues! We get our prescriptions refilled at Walgreens which falls under the “Medicine” category. But we stop by sometimes to pick up milk if we run out and other things like snacks since it’s really close to our apartment. And I usually pick up my cleanser, moisturizer etc, which fall under “Beauty”. But when I go grocery shopping, I sometimes pick up a shower gel or some lotion if I am running out. So now that gets lumped under groceries. How do you all keep track of these things?

The biggest problem I have is the Miscellaneous category. It really seems like something or the other keeps cropping up all the time. Like Mike has this work conference next week and he realized that he doesn’t have a white shirt for his suit. So we went shopping and $50 later we found him a nice shirt. And last week was Mike’s brother’s birthday (who is now in a Study Abroad program) I usually send my sister something for her birthday and I thought that it was only fair to do the same thing to Mike’s brother. Besides I am sure he is missing his family and I thought a nice care package would make him feel good. It sure is expensive to send stuff abroad though. And my CHI hair straightener decided to give up on me after 3.5 years. I use mine everyday and so I knew that I cannot make do with a cheap one from Walgreens. I ordered a new one (Sedu this time) and I’ve been loving it. I went for an annual eye exam and the doctor told me that my power has increased. I am really doubting this though, since my power has remained the same for almost 5 years. I want to go to another doctor and confirm this, but then I would have to pay for the exam myself since insurance only pays for an exam every year. And I definitely need new glasses since mine is falling apart. Again, insurance is not going to pay for it since I used to it to buy prescription sun glasses this Spring.

I know I sound very whiny, but this is what is happening in my life right now. And I am not even counting the non-emegencies (Mike needs new running shoes and I need some new sport bras and running pants) How do the other PF bloggers deal with all this? I am sure everyone has these curve balls that life throws at us? Since my other categories are necessary like rent, insurance etc, my savings takes a hit with these expenses. I can never automate my savings because I never know how much I will have leftover.

Any ideas for me?

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5 Responses to Budgeting Blues

  1. LBC Teacher says:

    I simplify categories by calling toiletries, presciptions, and food all groceries. That way most of those items all go together. I also leave a $200 cushion every month for “unexpected expenses” sort of a catch all for those details I forget. Hope that helps!

    • Ella says:

      Yes that makes a lot of sense. I just need to have broader categories and allot an amount based on previous months. But $200 never seems to cover my mistakes though 😦

  2. Using multiple accounts will definately make things a little more complicated. Since you are using cards for points, I am going to assume that a cash system would be out of the question. Have you considered narrowing down the number of cards/accounts that your transactions are made out of?

  3. Makky's Mom says:

    I found my budget wasn’t working because there were a whole bunch of “incidentals” that I had not factored in. When I took a good honest look at what I REALLY had to pay for, I realized I was falling short in my budget by $500-700 per MONTH! Some of these things were things we couldn’t predict easily – like a car repair or a when a new pair of shoes were desperately needed, other things were yearly expenses like our CAA membership, our license plate stickers, school pictures for the kids, winter snow gear for the kids, things like that. When I started putting $700 aside each month to cover these incidentals, things went MUCH better with my day-to-day budget. My “jar amounts” covered our day-to-day expenses like groceries, car gas, entertainment while that extra $700 covered all the things I was forgetting about that would sneak up and bite me in the butt when I least expected it.

  4. every month, no matter how well I plan our budget, we always have some unexpected expense–$400 car repair in september, $200 vet bill in october, and now another $175 for car brakes…usually i have to scrimp in other areas of our budget to account for this. luckily this month we had extra income.
    i sually have an “Extras” category for stuff that doesn’t fit into the budget, such as clothes, presents, ink for the printer–you know, the little things you don’t think about! this helps keep yourself within your budget when you actually allot money for them!

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