Friday, October 17, 2008

Project 10: The Budget (Part 1)

Earlier this month I posted about keeping track of my spending this month with the help of this spreadsheet. I know this sounds terrible, but this is my first real tracking experience - other than making sure I have more money in my account than I'm spending at the moment, which isn't a great kind of budget scheme to have (obviously).

Let me preface that before starting this, I went through my receipt accordion folder that I have to kind of gage my monthly spending habits, figuring out how much my receipts totaled and then averaging them. This is problematic for 2 reasons: 1. I only had 10 receipts total for the months of January and February, which clearly is NOT all of the money that I spent those two months, and 2. somehow I determined that I should only keep receipts showing sales tax (???? - like I'm spending enough to be able to claim that tax on my returns in January!) so I have a few months where that was the standard of receipt saving. The highest month I had was May, with $988.47 - this makes sense because I'd just moved and bought a ton of stuff for the new apartment. The average of my monthly receipts was $527.11, which isn't too bad (in my opinion) since it includes groceries and travel costs.

So today, after filling out half of my budgeting spreadsheet, I totaled everything up to see where I am for the month so far. It looks like my expenditures are currently at a whopping $419. I KNOW, right? What the heck? There are 2 reasons I think this number is higher than normal (yes, these are excuses) - 1. my little brother turned 18 last week and Matt's birthday was yesterday, so OBVIOUSLY celebratory costs were high for both of those occasions, and 2. all of the numbers are rounded up. BUT, in reality my spending was higher than this because I counted the $85 refund I got on 2 textbooks I returned as a credit, and subtracted it from the overall spending (which means I actually spent $504, good lord).

Obviously this is my first crack at the whole budgeting thing, and this will improve as I set firm dollar-amount guidelines for myself. It is very interesting to see where all the money goes, though.

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