Remember in my June net worth update how I said I was becoming obsessive about charts? I don’t know why, but I’m suddenly wanting to see as much information as possible, and the more visual, the better!
A lot of PF blogs break down their monthly budget/spending. I haven’t done that, simply because my budget is so simple. You see, I don’t really break things down and track them like other people. It isn’t that I don’t budget, it’s just my budget is very, very static.
Each Thursday I get paid ~$643*. I have direct deposit that puts that money into 3 different accounts. In my “Expenses” account goes $250 every week. This is the amount I’ve calculated that I need every week to cover all of my monthly and periodic expenses. This includes everything from the rent and insurance(s), to Netflix and the cell phone. $270 is then put into a temporary savings account. This money will go towards an extra payment on my car loan at least once during the month. The remaining $123? That goes into my Spending account, and covers everything from groceries and gas, to restaurants and clothing.
I don’t really track where my spending money goes; It’s mine to spend on whatever. But as I see other people breaking out their budgets, I’ve kind of started wondering where that money does go. Am I really spending most of it on gas and groceries, like I assume? Would I be surprised if I saw what I was blowing each month?
Since most of my spending is done via debit card or online banking, it was pretty easy to break things out. So, with my newfound obsession with charts, I decided to see where my money went last month. And what better way than a pie chart?
Okay, first let me say that the chart is a little deceiving: All said and done I spent $4,813.62 in June. In a 4 week month, I only take home $2,568.94. Where did the rest of the money come from? Well, around $1,500 came from refunds when I sold my house. The rest? Some of it was savings from previous months that were spent this month, like the premiums for my car and renter’s insurance, and part of my extra car payment. We also spent some of the money from the garage sale on shelf liners and organizers for the kitchen cabinets, and dinner out one night. I had cash in my wallet, which I used towards part of my gift expenses (two graduation gifts, and a Father’s Day gift). Honestly, I don’t remember why I had cash, but I’ve had it for several months. Like I said, it was a spendy month! I’m not expecting anything crazy in July, so my expenses should line up much more with my earnings next month.
Since Bryan and I still keep separate finances, this doesn’t include any of his spending. I pay half of our monthly rent, and also pay for most of our groceries every week. He will stop at the store in the evening a few times a week to grab something for dinner, but we try to cover most things in our weekly trip. Our only utility is our electric bill, which Bryan pays. This month I’m showing $120 towards utilities that was paid by mistake to the gas bill at my house; I shut off the utilities in mid May, but didn’t correctly stop my monthly auto-pay. I’m hoping to get a refund on that money. The $37 for Internet should be going away as well. We now have home WiFi, which Bryan pays for, so I’ve cancelled my hotspot. I will have a cancellation fee next month, but after that, I won’t have that expense any more.
Some things were a pleasant surprise: I’m shocked to see that I only spent $68 on gas last month. I’m spending about half what I used to on gas each month, so I consider that a huge win. But then I had to double-check my Restaurant spending for last month: How did I spend $72? We also had two weeks where our grocery bill was almost double the norm. One week was expected: We took appetizers to my parents’ house on Father’s Day. The other week? Apparently we were hungry!
More than anything else, this chart excited me for the future. All that money going towards the car loan? Some day soon, that’ll be gone! And yes, I am counting that money as spending. Yes, paying it off sooner saves me a ton on interest. But the money was used to buy something in advance, so I’m not going to pretend I’m putting money into savings by paying it back.
Maybe I’ll do this again next month. What do you think? Helpful? Interesting? No?
– Cindy W.
*My life insurance at work is paid every third paycheck of the month, so once a month I have a paycheck that is a few dollars less.