Money Matters: Give Your Budget A Little Wiggle Room

You know what my biggest budgeting problem is? Sticking…. to it.  I know I’ve  mentioned this before, but keeping to the terms and agreement of a budget is hard.  Not because money burns a hole in pocket every time I get it or I’m out trying to sabotage myself.  But, because… sh*t happens.  Life happens.  And no matter how much better I think I’m getting at preparing for life’s surprises, it likes to throw me a curve ball every so often.

I’m a fan of the game, but damn! Life, could you let me sit on the bench and watcg few times?  No.  That’s not what life’s about.  She whispers to me.   Anywhoo…

I budget bust.  Meaning, I find it hard to stick to a budget because I don’t factor in life happening.  Like, how? Something as simple as a cold or flu can bust my budget.  Stay with me here: I feel the signs that I’m coming down with something.  I try to head it off at the past by drinking tea or more fluids, covering myself up with vapor rub at night, wearing socks to bed.  Little things that should go a long way.  But sadly, they fail.  I’m sick.  And now I’m sick of being sick.

So I stroll into CVS and go down my trusted but questionable cold and flu aisle.  I grab some cough drops, cough syrup, allergy medicine, a saline rinse and something marked “may cause drowiness”.  Not overkill.  I’ve learned that there is no on medicine that works as a cure-all for me.  I need to make a concoction of these poor excuses of FDA medicines to feel a bit of relief.

With my legal experiment in hand, I make my way to the register to pay for my new found treasures.  Only to learn as I swipe my card, I just dropped over $40. On a problem that may last for one to two weeks.  Seriously?!?

So, now in the middle of summer I’ve just busted my budget because I got sick.  It sucks.

However, if I had given myself a contignecy… a little wiggle room, that $40 wouldn’t have been so detrimental to my accounting ego (or lack there of).  I would’ve considered my cold drugs an unexpected but covered in the budget expenses. 

How much should a contingency be?  That depends on you.  I like to place $115 as a safety net.  Odd number?  No, not really. I took the average of past over expenditures and decided that was a healthy number I could live within without busting my budget and still covering a random cold here or there.  What about a medical expense or car repair?  I have dedicated emergency fund for things of those nature.

So it’s possible to budget and stick to it.  Just gotta be real with yourself and give your budget a little wiggle room.  And maybe not get sick in the middle of July.

September’s 💵 Money Challenge 💵

I know. It’s Labor Day. The one day of the whole year which is supposed to be dedicated to not working. I get it. I also don’t care. Not because I’m evil or mean or a monster. Because I believe in Mark Cuban words: when the other guy is sleeping, you need to be busting your butt off.

I firmly agree with that.

So what better time than to get a jump on your week and finances than on a day when everyone else is ‘laxing it up?

We made August the month about zeroing in our income and expenses. And we even threw in a budget to better watch our money. I think September should be about designating our monies to savings account. We already said we’d budgeted it in.

So how much and how often? Or do you want to do the weekly savings challenge: your first week of savings, $1, your second week of savings, $2 and so forth and so on.

So how much are you willing saving, how often?

August’s 💵 Money Challenge 💵: First Comes Budgeting…

…then comes planning.

Aaaah! I know I’m a few days late following up on our money challenge for August, but I wanted to check in quickly and get us started for this week even though it’s half way over. But no worries. This next part is easy. Ish.

Now last week we wrote out our expen6se, right? What’s going out? I did it too because what’s the point of calling it our money challenge if I’m not participating, right? I used an Excel sheet even though I also use Mint and Trim to help me stay mindful of upcoming due dates. And I have a little over $1,800 in life expenses. Wowzers. Now, for LA that’s actually on the low side and to be fair, here’s why:

  • I don’t have a car payment. Got a used car from a friend, paid in full.
  • I live in a studio apartment for under $1,000 a month, utilities included.
  • I don’t have cable or satellite service. I have a Roku device. I cut the cord about 2 years ago. I only subscribe to Amazon Prime and Netflix (the $7.99 Netflix). So my in-home entertainment costs is a little over $14 a month. And I love it.
  • I take the bus to work and most places — and I have a car? Well, my mom drives the car since I live about 1.2 miles from work. That monthly TAP card for the bus is about $100.
  • I’m still on our family plan cell phone bill with T-Mobile. I do pay the bill for all of us, but if I didn’t, my portion would average to about $60 a month.
  • I also save about $100 a month. That doesn’t include the 401K account I have with my job in which $280 is deducted from my check before taxes even are every month.
  • I try not to spend no more than $200 on groceries and $60 on eating out for the month.

A little rigid? Yeah, maybe. Why? I have a dream home in mind. That’s why the budgeting, that’s why the cutbacks in certain luxuries or amenities. I want something bigger and better down the line, so I’m making small sacrifices today.

So, the next part of your our August money challenge is to figure out why we’re budgeting and what we can live without for little bit. Make budgeting plans.

I can live without cable or satellite TV. I get most of my news from the internet anyways. I’m down for reruns and I get to discover a bunch of stuff I never knew I’d like. Plus, when I had satellite TV, I was paying almost $70 a month for basic channels. But I spent 9 hours at work and getting to and from there. About 7 hours of sleep and another 1.5 hours getting ready for work. So 17.5 hours I wasn’t even getting my money’s worth during the work week. Damn. All that money down the drain. Now, I get to keep that dough.

But I’m budgeting with a plan in mind. I know why I’m budgeting and what I’m doing this for.

So, you know what you’re spending now in greater detail. Maybe some of those monthy subscriptions to stuff you don’t really need. Look over all your expenses and see what you do without for your ultimate goal in mind. I’m sure it’s worth it.