Monthly Budget Planning: February 2018 Preplan

I tried to start budgeting around November of last year but I just wasn’t able to make it work. I understood the theory of budgeting and started using the YNAB. I enjoyed looking at where my money was going but couldn’t seem to stop myself from breaking the budget. Not in one category. In all my categories. Apparently, budgeting doesn’t work if you aren’t 100% honest with yourself.

The problem?

I wasn’t 100% honest with where all my money was going. Little bits were being spent without being tracked. I didn’t have enough categories to properly account for everything I need and I even forgot to include a few reoccurring bills.

Between the end of November and now ( the end of January) I have just tried to not spend too much. With the great gray beast of February starting tomorrow it is time to get in gear so the rest of 2018 can move us toward our financial goals.

A little look back:

Good news is we came out of the Christmas Holidays with a nice bank balance. Which we will add to now, going into Valentine’s Day. We put all the income from Porter & Hazel into a separate account and take monthly distributions to live off of so we can be sure we can still pay for life during the slow months. One of our goals this year is to diversify our income so slow months are less of a problem. But for now, this ensures our future survival without having to get a regular job.

On Monday I deposited $6000 into my bank account to last through February. Somewhere around the last week of February, I’ll do the same thing to get me through March.  Though hopefully, I’ll be able to deposit less. We’ll see.

Category Breakdown

 

Housing: Budgeted: $2390.01

This includes my mortgage and all of the bills that it takes to run the house like sewer, trash, gas, electric. Unfortunately, there isn’t much room to save money in this category for the month of February. We have a 15-year mortgage so even though we bought our home for around $150k our mortgage is almost $1700 a month. High but a bit of perspective for this expensive category.

My gas bill is quite high this month. Probably means I forgot to pay it last month. December is crazy for us, so that is entirely possible. However, that does mean that I’ll be able to have this category be lower for March.

I do overpay on my mortgage every month including February (already made the payment). But I’m serious about debt relief so starting in March I’m going to pay the required amount and put that extra towards a credit card.

Health & Fitness: Budgeted $918.36

This category is a bit of a guesstimate. I saw a Get Rich Slowly review of YNAB and he used a health & fitness category which kind of blew my mind. Like Duh. Of course, medical expenses don’t just go in with regular expenses. Especially since this is a pretty big area for my family. Thankfully this area will go down quite a bit after February.  Spending $250 on an emergency room visit is a hard to swallow but sometimes those things are unavoidable. The other big guesstimate is what to set aside for prescriptions. We don’t spend $100 on prescriptions a month, but I put that into the category because I am on a pricey medication that will have to be refilled in the next month or two. So I’ll use what I need and put the rest toward future refills, and add to this category again next month.

True Expenses: 148.48

This category contains items that are important and non-negotiable. But this also means this category is flexible. This month my daughter needs a few things but hopefully, she’ll find a job soon and then I will be able to pay less for her life. This is where I also track my dwindling extra money. The oh so lovely “stuff I forgot to budget for” category is down to $25. While looking over the budget for this post I realized I forgot my the car inspection, my health insurance, gas for the car, and a few other things.

Credit Card Debt Payments:$413 minimum payment, $628.13 paid.

This was actually higher than I thought it would be. But that’s ok because it includes an additional $215 towards our lowest card paying it off! Woot!

Next month I’ll finish paying off our next lowest card (which currently has a balance of $77 and then throw the rest onto our Discover card which has balance (before this month’s payment) of $624. Hopefully, by then we will be pulling in some extra cash from side hustles and we can throw more money at the debt.

Other Categories

Automotive: $345.52 – car payment, gas, and maintenance

Phone Bill: $147.60

Student Loans: $463.33

Charity: $60.00

Travel: $100
After Valentine’s Day, we are going up to New York to see some family. This should cover the gas and other expenses while we are up there. Honestly, we might not spend this at all. So I might be able to apply this elsewhere in the latter half of the month!

Final Thoughts

Being this nitty gritty about my budget makes me feel responsible and very adult. So much so that I can’t see why everyone doesn’t want to do this. This is much less stressful than just ignoring my money all and hoping it works out. I feel a little like I should get an award for adulting.

My biggest struggle is not comparing my beginning to the current successes of other bloggers. I couldn’t run my house on $3,000 if I tried. My house isn’t 1500 sq ft. Sometimes looking at the budgets where people are saving over half of their income is crazy!!! I feel like I’ll never get there.

For now, I just have to accept where we are in this process and keep moving forward to the life we want.

Book Review: You Need A Budget by Jesse Mecham

You Need a Budget: The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle, Getting Out of Debt, and Living the Life You Want*

By Jesse Mecham.  Publisher: Harper Business

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

BOOK JACKET SUMMARY

Think of a budget as a lifestyle-design blueprint. It’s a working plan for taking your life from where you are now to where you really want to be: Zero debt. Homeownership. Retirement plans. Travel. More money for eating out. Much less frustration and anxiety. Pick a goal that speaks to you and budget your way to success!

In this indispensable guide—the first book based on the successful tenets of the award-winning financial platform—you’ll be given the tools to learn how to track your expenses, stick to a spending plan, and make your money work for you. 

By learning to budget, you can finally break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, become debt-free, and save more. As Jesse Mecham shows, a budget won’t make you feel more restricted—it will make you feel free. You Need a Budget outlines his four simple rules to completely revolutionize the way you think about managing your money: 

1. Give every dollar a job. Take your cash, checking, and savings accounts and assign jobs to that money. Begin now with what you have on hand. Pick your priorities and make sure your dollars are helping you move closer to the things you really care about.

2. Embrace your true expenses. Identify your larger, less-frequent expenses—such as insurance premiums, birthdays, holidays, car repairs—and break them into manageable monthly amounts. This will help you even out your spending, decrease your stress, and make better decisions.

3. Roll with the punches. Life always changes and unexpected expenses happen. If you need to change your budget, just do it. The YNAB philosophy not only tolerates changing your budget; it encourages it.

4. Age your money. Increase the time between earning and spending, and finally, break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

These four rules are the pillars of a tried-and-true system that keeps you engaged with your money. Following the rules, you’ll learn to adjust your habits, become proactive, and ultimately control your finances. Say goodbye to stressing over last month’s statement and say hello to taking charge and finally building the life you want.

Budgeting means that, soon enough, you’ll have money sitting around (just in case your car or home needs a repair), and finally be able to do the things you’ve been dreaming about—like take a Hawaiian vacation with your honey—knowing that the rest of your life is covered.

In November I started a free trial of the YNAB budgeting software. I love the flexibility of the system but I struggled to get a hang how to make it work for us, so when I saw the release of a YNAB book I preordered it to my kindle hoping for help and an insight to the YNAB method so I could get control of our budget better.

I love knowing where our money is going and seeing debt being paid off, yet I still stress out like crazy when I know I have to sit down and pay bills. Watching all that money just go poof is depressing.  I know its important, but I am still building our systems and I still want to avoid looking at the numbers. The stress of trying to sit down and deal with money is SO much worse than the actual budgeting.

In the introduction, Jesse says, “ when we’re stressed about our finances, its because we’re not sure our money decisions are aligned with the life we want to be living”. I can still feel the ring of truth to this deep in my heart. The reason I spend money the way I do is because I don’t have a concrete goal for the life I want to be living. I have a general idea and a hope that it will magically happen some day. But taking the responsibility to change my behaviors to ensure I reach those goals is a new thought for me.

THE TRUE STRENGTH OF YNAB

Most budgeting systems are controlling, and strict. With little flexibility. They seem to focus on reducing spending by cutting out all non-essential items.  Instead of asking “can I afford this?” YNAB encourages you to ask yourself, “does this move me closer to my goals?”

The difference between the two is a mindset switch from deprivation to empowerment. I am not avoiding the things I love because I can’t afford them, but I am choosing to make or skip a purchase because I have a specific goal in mind.

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you are new to budgeting you should read this book. Simple as that. It doesn’t drown you with tons of personal finance knowledge and focuses on the personal aspect of personal finance.  While Jesse encourages readers to slay debt, he also believes we all need to make the decisions that are best for us.

After covering the four core concepts the book goes over some specific situations like budgeting as a couple, getting out of debt, and teaching kids budgeting. Along the way, there are examples from real-world people that help illustrate the philosophy and how it can be implemented by real people – not personal finance experts.

Surprisingly, the book is NOT a marketing tool for the YNAB Software platform. Jesse openly admits that you could use a spreadsheet program to meet all your budgeting needs. That being said after reading the book I feel more ready and able to use the YNAB platform to reach my financial goals.

Buy Nothing Day 2017

Today is Black Friday and there are so many deals out there. But the truth is I don’t need them. I am not shopping today. In fact, I am kind of coming around to the realization that while I don’t mind shopping I kind of hate spending money. I hate having to log into my budget software and see my balance drop lower and lower.

Maybe it’s holiday hangover (thank goodness not a real one) or the fact that you can’t blink your eyes today without seeing information about a “great” Black Friday deal but I’m feeling very bah humbug today. It’s officially Buy Nothing Day, ironic since I’m pretty sure most Americans unofficially celebrate Buy Everything Day today.

Since I’m buying nothing, I’m going to spend the day making something. Spending the day at home in my office working on building my new business will be less stressful, more rewarding, and ultimately add income to my life.