Part of getting my financial act together requires creating a budget…. beyond the daily expense spreadsheet I showed you in my last post. That includes figuring out your fixed monthly expenses-items that don’t change from month to month- and your varied monthly expenses.
My total monthly income is $3,439.14*
*sounds like a lot of money, right??? It is. For someone who was making minimum wage while interning for a nonprofit for eight months post college graduation, a fair and consistent paycheck is something I do not take for granted. It’s hard out there for a liberal arts grad.
See the pretty graphic below for what these fixed expenses are…. GAH $$$
If you haven’t heard of the phrase “PAY YOURSELF FIRST (PYF),” that’s what my $2,000 in savings per month is. To PYF means allocating money into emergency savings, retirement accounts, or for any money goal BEFORE you spend on anything else. Why is it important to PYF? Because if you don’t take this money out before spending it elsewhere you will make excuses for why you can’t save this month, that month, or EVER.
How do I pay myself first? Last month I added my online savings account to my direct deposit at work, so now $1,000 of every paycheck goes into this account, and the remainder ($719.57) enters my checkings.
I live in my parents’ home, so why am I paying rent? I pay rent because I like contributing to my household and helping mis padres out while they help me by saving me hundreds in “real” rent money.
My commute is non-negotiable, how else will I get to and from work? Fingers crossed they don’t jack up these already high prices -__-
Although my minimum student loan payment is $266.93, I pay $300 to help expedite loan repayment.
Charlotte, my little GSD, needs health insurance ($75.49) and food ($36).
I don’t really see how much more I can lower my phone bill. I’m on an unlimited text and talk prepaid plan, with no data. This costs me $30, but since I enrolled in automatic payment, a nice $5 discount was added. So I’m really paying $25 plus tax=$26.72.
Netflix and Spotify make up my entertainment charges. Without data on my phone, being able to download music to listen on my commute is essential.
These expenses are not changing on a monthly basis so I can bet I will need to spend AT LEAST $3,199.62/ month.
Things get a little tricky with my varied expenses. Each month I only have $239.52 to spend on workweek meals, eating out, movie nights, and networking events.
Workweek food is easy. I have breakfast a work, some cereal, or oatmeal with dried fruits. For lunch I usually pack some quinoa, black beans and tofu. I don’t complicate myself with this because I’d rather splurge on food when I’m eating out with family and friends then on my workweek lunches. Luckily, I get free lunch at work on Wednesdays, so I try to order something that will be enough for two lunches; eating for free on Wednesday and Thursday. I would put my workweek lunches at no more than $70/month. Homework: I need to examine this a bit further for an accurate amount.
Eating out is a tough one. It’s really hard to say no to take-out, or dining in when you have a boyfriend who never makes his own food. I have gotten better at saying no when he asks if we’re eating together, but I do want to budget at least one dinner out per week. Usually I spend around $30 per meal, so I’m going say $120/month is a good limit?
That leaves me with about $47 bucks to spend on going out/ networking events. What does help is the fact that I’ve stopped drinking so much, so spending $10-15 dollars per drink isn’t an issue for me. Though, not going to lie, not drinking at social events has not been an easy task. There is definitely major peer-pressure to drink in order to fit in, or to simply feel comfortable in certain situations. BUT I am moving away from needing a drink to socialize.
Although it is clear where my fixed expenses are going, there’s a gray area about where my varied expenses go, maybe this is because it really depends on the month, but this is something I want to get a closer look at.
Anyway, so far this budget has been keeping me from spending in unnecessary places, so I know a budget could help anyone achieve their goals!