I’ll admit, I was kind of surprised when I did my spending breakdown for March. We spent 9 days on vacation in early March, and yet, somehow, my spending wasn’t all that exciting. If anything, I spent less in some categories than I normally would have. I guess since I paid for the hotel in February, and Bryan paid for gas and food, most of my vacation spending was already done last month.
I was shocked when I realized I spent $0 on gas in March. Not that I spend a lot on gas each month, but I usually fuel up at least a couple of times. I must have gotten gas at the end of February. And then, I didn’t drive for 9 days. It isn’t like I drive much to begin with; I don’t work very far from home, and Bryan does most of the driving on weekends.
Most of my expenses were completely normal this month. I did spend $100 on a variety of items for vacation. And $99 on going out to eat throughout the month. I put $80 cash into savings, to match what Bryan spent on lottery tickets this month (my “lottery savings”, a guaranteed win!). The Grief Expense was for flowers; A friend’s brother passed away earlier in the month. I had spent $54 on seeds for the garden, but as it turns out, one item is on backorder, so I wasn’t charged for it.
All told, I spent $3,654 in March, while earning $3,265. Which started to concern me: It seems like most months I spend more than I earn. And yet, I always have a similar amount in the bank at the end of the month, so I’m not spending down my savings. It’s as if there’s some sort of magic going on in my bank accounts! And then I realized, a big chunk of what I spend each month is actually from previous months. I put a set amount of money ($250) into a separate account every week to cover my regular expenses: Car payment, rent, insurance, cell phone, etc. This account also acts as a “sinking fund” for my semi-annual expenses. When the month starts, I already have the money I need in the account for all of that months regular expenses. So I’m not using this month’s money for this month’s expenses, I’m using previous months’ money.
There were 4 pay periods in February, which means I put $1,000 into my expenses account. In March, I used that money for rent ($350), car payment ($340), Insurance ($35), Cell Phone ($16) and Entertainment ($9). I always round my “regular” car payment up to $500, so $160 of my extra payment comes out of my expenses account as well. That equals out to $910. The remaining $90 stays in that account to cover more expensive months, like when my semi-annual car insurance is due.
My spending money gets spent in the month that it is earned. This month, I also had an extra $680 to put towards my car loans from February, because I wanted to wait to see how vacation panned out before using that money. Using some of this month’s money, and some of last month’s money, is why my spending and earnings never seem to line up. April should be the last month where things look so confusing: If all goes well, I’ll pay my car loan off this month. I’ll use savings to do so, which will make April’s spending and earnings numbers look really bad. But, after that, I’ll be putting more money towards savings each month, and it won’t look like I’m spending more than I’m earning.
It may look messy, but things are lining up exactly how I planned.
- Cindy W.