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Day 6) First Spending Report and Observations

Welcome to Day 6 of Where’s My Money Going? Month! This February 2009, I’m challenging readers (and myself) to track spending manually for 28 days. Don’t worry if you’re late to the party, the more the merrier!

What’s stood out to me most so far is how our spending always seems to be clumped together. We’ve had several no-spend days already this week that were completely unintentional. It just seems that we don’t do much casual spending (yet) and instead make big trips that encompass things like gas & food & toiletries.

Our biggest purchase this week was apart from the budget, but something we had set aside the money for: we paid off the car!! I’m not going to put that in the spending record, but it was a momentous part of this week’s spending!

So far this week, we’ve paid rent ($783), spend $15.72 on gas, paid our water & sewer bill ($36.25). None of those were a big surprise.

The only surprise was spending $130 on groceries & toiletries. Looking back over our previous spending patterns, that’s highly abnormal for us. I knew that we didn’t normally outspend our budget, but I have to admit that I was worried when I saw that!

This weekend, my BIL & SIL are coming down for a visit. We’re not buying much extra food, but we’re making sure that we’re fully stocked on the extras that we’d normally get for a month. We’re buying things up front instead of spreading them out. They’re only here for a couple meals, so I don’t think it’ll make a big impact on our overall food budget.

But if it does, I’ve also come to appreciate the flexibility we put into our spending plan.

The strangest transaction I had to record this week was $1 which I spent to participate in a beta test a friend was running (according to her professional code, she can’t run the test for free). Obviously, I don’t plan or budget for “participating in beta tests.”

Fortunately, we have a “Misc” spot in the budget, which I think is vital. The leftovers from it each month are part of our debt snowflake or go into savings. So if we have to spend the money, we don’t feel guilty. If we don’t spend it, then we feel great. I’m going to keep more of an eye on what ends up in Misc. and if it’s things we should really plan for.

So for those of you tracking your money this month, how has your first week (or so) gone? Any surprises yet?

This post was part of Where’s My Money Going? Month. Tomorrow, I’ll talk a bit about how often to record purchases in day-to-day life after the challenge.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mrs. Accountability February 6, 2009 at 12:13 pm

I am intrigued by this experiment… it would be interesting to see just how much money is spent every day. I personally don’t spend much money at all, since I am not the primary grocery shopper. Thanks for sharing this insight into your finances, Mrs. Micah.

mb February 6, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Someone else with a stated misc catagory 🙂
Surprisingly rare, nice to know of someone else with a “buffer” fund.

And I got hit with a $50 extra myself for school suplies… a calculator and a thumbdrive.

Have fun when the inlaws visit. Buying ahead like that never really occured to me, must put a note somewhere.

Andrea February 6, 2009 at 5:46 pm

I always keep track, but this week was a little unexpected in the “entertainment/dining” category. Between the Superbowl and a friend’s birthday, we’ve spent $100 already(of $260/month). Only $46 on groceries so far, but we haven’t really done a big trip yet either. That will be tomorrow. I got a somewhat unexpected cheque in the mail (as in, I knew i was getting it sometime, just didn’t know when) so that went immediately to my credit card (only $400 left!). Other than that it was just rent so far.

Diane February 8, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Congratulations on paying off the car! Huge event to me! Mine is paid off, so I have no car payment & it is wonderful. I don’t drive a luxury car (2006 Chrysler Town & Country – not the fancy one) but I’m totally satisfied with it!

I had several No Spend Days this week, but I know why so it’s not surprising. We work at home, so I don’t need to go out every day. When gas prices were high I made a real effort to combine trips to the post office, gas, grocery, etc. & I have continued that, so some days are No Spend & some are High Spend when I finally do errands.

I paid the mortgage $525 & the water bill $108 (unbelievable but this is a regular water bill here!), $50 for groceries. The most unusual expense was $60 for prescriptions & OTC medication because my son had the flu.

I paid 1/2 of my son’s senior ring $200 (money already saved for that purpose, so it did not come out of the monthly budget).

I’ve written down every expense on a tablet by date, then moved it into a spreadsheet to track categories.

Amazing how I can almost forget cash payments – just remembered the $14 last night for tickets to the Varsity Soccer play off game to watch my son’s team.

DIYJoe February 11, 2009 at 2:51 pm

@mb
My extra category is actually called “buffer”. lol. If I make more than I expect, it goes here. Refunds and reimbursements? They go here. I collect all the little savings into a pile and apply it to my credit card. (and occasionally splurge on some really tasty, but bad for me food.)

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