Friday, February 29, 2008

Number Crunching 113

Blank: Number Crunching 113

February Budget Meeting

Quicken Cash Flow = 243.25

Reconciling Quicken with bank statements: Everything reconciled.

Reconciling last month’s budget: I spent $564.66 income I got and hadn’t expected. So where are my problem areas?
  • Bank charges: Because I wasn’t watching when I spent what, I earned a shit load of overdraft charges.
  • Writing expenses: I bought the Ereport course this month.
  • Eating Out: That’s what I was doing with my money during the week at the hospital.
  • Personal Care: Vitamins: OUCH! I forgot to budget for my pills running out.
  • Telephone: I spent more money than budgeted for setting up the Verizon cell phone and I haven’t gotten my rebate back yet.
  • Medical: Why am I not surprised this is on the list? However, this should be less of a problem now that I don’t need to go in to the chiropractor every week.
  • Auto Fuel: And the price of gas just keeps going up.
  • Entertainment: I don’t even remember what I ended up spending. Wait, seeing Juno with Mom and buying Jurassic Park el cheapo, but I hadn’t budgeted for either.
  • Citifinancial Loan: Had a late charge from the December 2007 payment that came through on February’s bill.
  • Categories that went over but under $5.00:
    • Federal taxes
    • Federal Medicare tax
    • State taxes
    • Natural gas
    • Household maintenance
Where did I stay under budget?
  • Auto Service: Which actually isn’t good, because I’m WAY overdue for an oil change.
  • Clothing: Mom spent $100 on an outfit for me, which I added to the total balance of what I owe her. I spent under what I had budgeted out of my own pocket.
  • Groceries: I don’t know how I managed that one, except that the week at the hospital that killed my Eating Out Allotment kept me out of the grocery store.
  • Personal Care Items: Stayed under budget on this too. I think staying out of the store is the cause.
  • Acadiana Medieval Faire: the price of website stuff came in under budget. This is a loan and I should get paid back (crossing fingers).
Verdict: Even where I saved money, it was sent into the black hole of the problem areas. I also didn’t get any money saved or paid anything on the small debts I have outstanding. I killed what I had in STEF. February is officially my fuck-up month. Now I can’t officially screw up worse than this, so that’s out of the way. And I can concentrate on getting better, starting over with March.

I didn’t do the weekly reviews and had no idea how much I was spending, so I overspent. I wish it was something more dramatic, but stupid wins this month. I missed the weekly review for February 8 because I overspent and didn’t want to face it. Then when the family went into emergency mode over my grandmother, I didn’t budget any spending. I just spent. Recipe for disaster, and I’m glad the damage isn’t worse.

Creating March’s budget: So now to fix things. I’ve been soaking up financial advice via the blogsphere, and they have been extremely useful in pointing out where I need to change my habits. My efforts in frugality have been jokes at best. I need more income, especially multiple sources. But first let’s crunch the numbers before getting into behavior changes.

OUCH! Okay, I earned it. Two paychecks this month and counting the payment from Kai, income covers
  • Federal taxes
  • Federal medicare
  • State taxes
  • LASERs
  • Deferred Compensation Plan
  • Life insurance
  • FSA Medical
  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Vision insurance
  • Auto insurance
  • Car note
  • Mortgage
  • Citifinancial Loan
  • Pelican Loan
  • Natural gas
  • Water
  • Telephone and cellphone
  • Electric
  • Medical
  • Auto Fuel
  • Payment to TurboTaxes to finish submitting my taxes
  • STEF
Notice a few categories not in the list, like Groceries. Pause to say “shit” repeatedly.

Regrouped and found the electric bill and the mortgage bill. Both had changed this month so that freed up a grand total of $19.23 to put in Groceries. I’ve started doing online surveys and I should be getting my income tax refund this month, but I can’t plan those in. Besides, I want to the tax refund to go straight into STEF. I have food in the pantry and freezer, and I can supplement that with buying off my Lagniappe account at the SLU campus convenience store. So out of pocket will cover cat food for Mustard and any household items I have to have--contact solution and toothpaste, for example. Everything else is on buying freeze.

Determining how much cash to withdraw for the pay periods in March: That is the quickest I have ever been able to do that calculation in. I can only have $9.62 a pay period. Everything else needs to remain in the credit union to pay bills.

Ensuring all automatic payments for February went through: Everything automated is listed on the bank statement.

Ensuring all automatic payments for the next month are set up: Everything went fine last month, so no changes necessary.

Review short-term saving goals:
  1. STEF = $2202.00. Current total = $35.06.
  2. Wish list fund: Dishwasher fund = $500.00. Current total = $0.00
  3. Reenacting garb fund = $200.00. Current total = $0.00
  4. Paying off Minor Debts fund = $965.52. Current total = $0.00

Update NetWorthIQ statement: It moved up! It moved up!

Updated No Credit Needed Network Savings Chart: Starting in the month of March, I created a six-month savings chart to illustrate me reaching the STEF goal. I’m trying to reach it in less than six-months, but I figured that was a good time frame.

Overview and plans: Starting over sucks, but it is an undeniable fact of life. A good thing I calculated. At two visits per week for the rest of the year, I am paying $0.87 out of pocket for a safe track to walk on, shower, locker, sauna, and towel. Alumni rates are not nearly that affordable, so I need to be positioned to start my bathroom remodel in January 2009. *Twitch

I’ve realized I have to get savings out of my hands, away from my debit card, or I will spend it away. There are online savings accounts you can set up, so I will be researching that. I have to have quick access to the money if it’s an emergency, but I want to be steps to getting it (have to fill out a form for a transfer of funds for example). That way I stop and think about what the hell I’m getting the money out for. As soon as I have $100, it will be opened.

Following Dave Ramsey’s advice is a simple plan to follow. There’s a great blog meme discussing all the baby steps in detail starting at Cash Money Life. For my purposes, I’m not looking beyond the first three: save, pay debt, save more. No trying to climb out of debt without having an emergency fund in place.

Now some debt bills I can’t just not pay. *Sigh If I could skip three months of them, I would have the STEF fund with no problems. Every so often, my credit union offers to skip payments for a month on car loans and maybe other loans too. If STEF is still looking pretty lean when the next one rolls around, I will probably do it to put the funds in STEF. That aside my first goal is to fund the STEF, which is what I have determined I need for a month’s worth of expenses.

Dave Ramsey calls his debt pay off plan “snowballing,” which has led other personal financial bloggers to come up with “snowflaking”. I’m going to focus my first snowflaking on the STEF fund. Once it is fully funded, I can turn the snowflaking to eliminating my debt. I’m more positive this can happen now. Did you see the NetWorthIQ graph? The line went up! So all money I earn from other endeavors will go into the STEF. That includes all money the government gives me to, income tax return and the rebate thingy that I don’t half believe they are going to give me because I got gypped out of the last one they did. I like the idea I found about randomizing snowflake money between debt/savings/retirement/mad money, but I can’t start that until after I have a STEF. My grandmother could end up in the hospital again.

Habits to change:
  2. Be more frugal
    • Stop buying so much over the budget and bring the budget down.
    • Signup for and plan meals around sales and coupons.
    • Cook crockpot meals and freeze. Make sandwiches a part of the packed meals. Stock up on dried foods and frozen foods.
    • Shop more at Big Lots for household items
  3. Take the debit cards out of my wallet
  4. Bring snacks to work
  5. Get multiple sources of income
    • Find a Baton Rouge consignment shop to sale my clothes to
    • Finish setting up the Amazon sales
    • Sign up for online surveys

Financial Projects
  • Measure weekly budget reviews with Joe’s Goals.
  • Sign up for
  • Find a Baton Rouge consignment shop
  • Finish setting up the Amazon sales.
  • Take debit cards out of wallet.
  • Pack food to work: breakfast, lunch, and snacks
  • Do online surveys every night before going to bed.
  • Print out taxes.
  • Submit taxes electronically.
  • Fill out the rebate calculator and see what that will be.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

There is a new renaissance festival in Louisiana! Check out the Acadiana Medieval Faire at:

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