October in Review: How I Budgeted, Spent and Sinned

Please stop by Yes, I am Cheap and check out my guest post Work Habits That Make you Fat and Sick.

On October 24 I entered (again) the world of personal finance blogs and jumped right into The Dollar Challenge that was created by 20s Finance. Since I am a big spender and not a big saver, I decided it would be smart and responsible to track my spending and compare it to other PF bloggers. Most importantly, I wanted to give myself some accountability and responsibility, and maybe even to exercise some discipline. Take it as my personal finance simplified.

In order to do all of this, I started using Mint. Most of you already know what Mint is all about. If you don’t know, Mint pulls all your accounts (checking, savings, loans, IRAs and so on) in one place. This software allows you to set up budgets and financial goals, track your spending and your debt. I had a lot of security concerns about Mint, and refused to use it for years. However, I gave up a month ago, opened an account with Mint, pulled all our accounts in one place and created a preliminary budget.

Needless to say, it was an eye opener. I knew I was trouble. I never realized how much trouble I actually was! You don’t need to have high paying jobs without college degree (or with for that sake) to see it.

What was spent in October (important things):

Mortgage (including HOA fee and property taxes) – 25%

Groceries and Household Items – 13%

Pet Food and Supplies ( we have a cat and a dog, those two are not cheap) – 13% 

Loan payments (two student loans and one car payment) – 12%

Gas (we both drive to work, however in November it is going to change because I am planning on taking a bus to work) – 4%

TV, Internet, Utilities – 3%  

Cell Phones (one iPhone and one basic phone) – 2%

How I sinned in October

One sweater, one scarf, one jacket, one pair of shoes (I did resist another pair of boots, see below) – 17% (quite excessive comparing to everything else). I am still lusting for these Miz Mooz boots in red (not that I need them):

Financial Confession: In fact, I think I have to admit that I had to pull out a small amount out of savings to finance my shopping.

What was spent in October on fun stuff:

Going Out to Eat – 4%

Allowance for Beaker and me (it is used for lunches at work, coffee and other fun stuff) -4%

Alcohol  – 2% (reasonable, right?)

Take Outs (we don’t cook every day) – 1% (wow, I did not know that we are actually doing good in this area)

Starbucks (on the weekends only) – 0.7% (nice)

Anything Saved?

Savings – 0% (very sad!)

Goals for November:

Maybe we can keep groceries and household items at 10% and put 3% into savings;

If I can cut my shopping to 5%, we would be able to save 12% more;

If we can go out to eat less and maintain this expense at 3%, that gives us additional 1% for savings.

Let’s see what happens!

20 thoughts on “October in Review: How I Budgeted, Spent and Sinned”

  1. “The first step is admitting you have a problem” – right? Getting everything on Mint was a great step – once you know how your expenses shake out you’ll know where you should concentrate when trying to change you habits.

    Thanks for the transparency!

    1. Well, I definitely know one habit I need to change. 🙂 Will see how it progresses (or degresses) over time. 😉

  2. I love Mint. Tracking all of my finances using it makes it so much easier to stay on track. I love the budget overview they have on the front page. The little indicator showing how far along I am in the month overlaid on my budget really helps.

    1. More I use Mint, more I like it. I should have started using it months, years ago. We could have been in a much better financial shape by now.

      1. Have either of you tried Quicken software? I looked into Mint years ago, but had security concerns. Don’t want all my account numbers “out there.” Have been using Quicken since the mid 90’s. Wondering if I should consider switching.

        1. I really like Mint. It is easy to use, and it is really efficient. I had safety concerns before but I figured that they are as safe as any on-line banking services can be.

  3. Mint doesn’t operate here yet – I can’t wait. Cool boots and very well done for resisting. I am like Oscar Wilde myself – i can resist anything but temptation. This is why have been making sure that fewer things are ‘temptations’. Does this make sense?

    1. It totally does! But is also very difficult to make sure that fewer things are temptaions. One thing that did work for me, I just don’t go to stores anymore. Out of sight, out of mind. Sort of. 🙂

  4. I would say stop eating out completely or cut down drastically. Almost 17% going to food cost. You two can cook and take with you to work. See if you can bring down 17% to 7%. Take my 10% challenge.

    1. We do cook and take food to work. We are going to cut down on going out. I am not sure 10% though. Seems a little brutal! 🙂 We can try and see what happens.

  5. It seems like your expenses are actually pretty low. It’s just the 13 percent towards loans that’s high — going out to eat is low, alcohol seems low, and your mortgage is definitely low. Can you cut back on pet supplies?

    1. Our pug is on prescription food that is quite costly. Other than that we don’t spend that much on our pets (unless they get sick). But we cannot go with a different food for our boy. So we just pay more. But as long as he stays healthy, we don’t care about the cost.

  6. I’m certain you’ve heard it before, but I’ll make a pitch for the “pay yourself first” method of budgeting. Choose the amount you want to put in savings (it doesn’t have to be huge, $25 to start is at least something) and transfer it over to savings NOW. Don’t wait until the end of the month to see if you have the money left over. The sooner it’s out of the checking account, the sooner you stop seeing it as money you have to spend.
    And yes, sometimes you still spend and have to take money out of savings, but then there’s an action you have to take (transferring the money OUT of savings) that makes you more aware of what you’re doing than having a non-action (not transferring money TO savings) at the end of the month.

  7. Pingback: Where Bloggers Spend Their Money – Dollar Challenge Results - 20's Finances | 20's Finances

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