Tracking My Monthly Spend and Budgeting

Budgeting in November? It went pretty well all things considered. If you haven’t read my first post, here is a link to how I planned my budget. My goal was roughly $4K for the month for recurring and fluctuating expenses (entertainment, food, etc). I also aimed at $4K to be close to my spending level on lower months this year. I came in over budget but I had a few unplanned expenses I’ll get into later. I’m happy with where I landed because I know I cut back from purchasing things I normally would have. 

The envelopes… This system did not work for me. I’m not sure why I thought it would, considering I never use cash but it was worth a shot. The main reasons I was unsuccessful: 

  1. I struggled with the envelopes because I would put the cash back into my wallet by habit and then couldn’t remember what category I took it from.
  2.  I came across a few instances where I needed money for things that didn’t really fit the categories I had. I used what was “closest” but it didn’t make sense and left less for what I needed. Looking back I should have added a miscellaneous category. 
  3.  I made purchases online that I couldn’t use cash for.

To get the full tally of November I reviewed my debit/ credit expenses plus the cash I spent. My bank made it easy to download monthly expenses and put it into excel format. Then all I had to do was categorize everything. They do some categorization but I wanted to make sure everything was correct. Here are the results.

Monthly Budget Breakout

  • Food: 
    • $200 budgeted
    •  $285 over budget
    • From my food total, my spend on “take-out” was $150. I think that’s considerably low compared to what most people likely spend between Grubhub and Doordash but there’s always room for improvement. I still want to have some nights where I order takeout but this exercise helped me realize I’m more likely to order out when I’m in between shopping trips. If I stop procrastinating grocery shopping I could probably save more. A realistic food budget for me going forward is between $300- $350. 
  • Entertainment:
    • $210 budgeted
    • $150 over budget
    • I could probably cut back here but I like going out so it’s not a category I’m over enthused to streamline. 
  • Personal:
    • $50 budgeted
    • $440 over budget
    • I treated myself to some gifts during Black Friday sales. I’ve been wanting the Dyson for over a year and got it for under $350, normally $500. I needed a new winter coat which I got from Macys for $150, normally $340. I’m not mad about going over budget since the sales were so good plus I’m getting cashback from these orders. My cashback with Rakuten including all of my Christmas orders is $70 for the quarter! If you haven’t signed up for Rakuten yet, what are you doing?! Here is my referral link, you and I both get rewards for sign up. 
  • Dog: 
    • $50 budgeted 
    • $910 over budget
    • Tux ended up with a $900 vet visit this month! Needless to say he was way over the $50 budget I had allotted for him. I also bought poop bags for him for the year ($25), a winter coat ($25) and a digestive supplement ($10). This was the largest vet bill he’s had so I enrolled for pet insurance that day. Let this be a warning to people considering buying a dog, they aren’t cheap.

Looking at the categories above and my overall goal of $4K I over spent but I was successful in decreasing my monthly costs by 10% from the prior two months! It was eye opening to look back through my credit/ debit statements and call myself out on purchases I could have done without. Before this month I was mostly living blissfully unaware of my credit card swiping but no more! 

I would love it if you left me a comment on your budgeting experiences/ recommendations. If you are interested in more posts like this give me a thumbs up. I have a few other ideas for managing student loans, cutting back on Amazon purchases, and saving strategies.

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