Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Number Crunching 128

Quicken Cash Flow = 47.65
STEF Total = 113.83

September Budget Review

I usually like to wait a few days into the next month before starting to tally, to make sure all payments have gone through, etc. As I check the online account balances, I see that my Roth IRA dividends have posted yet. But I need the spending plan for October STAT, so I’m getting the bulk of this done now. By Friday and the weekly budget catch-up, September’s statements should be finalized and I can do the final check off.

The STEF total went down again because I had to buy a tank of gasoline, and I’m trying to avoid all bank charges from now on. It should be an easy category to bring down to $0.00.

Reconciling Quicken with bank statements:

Capital One checking account had sent the September bank statement and it is reconciled. I don’t have statements for my credit union accounts, but everything balances with my online balances.

Reconciling last month’s budget:

Why is it so hard to get my balances to match between the spreadsheet and Quicken every time I open them up? I just got it right last week! I’m only off by $2.39. The spreadsheet says I have spent that much, and I can’t find where to add it back in because Quicken says I didn’t spend it.

Thinking that it must be a discrepancy in cash spending, I just added up all my cash buys and I spent $102.71 in September. But I only took out $50.17 in cash, and August balanced. *Headdesk* By what I calculated, I should have spent $38.73 in September. So where did the extra come from? August is balanced and I’m not finding a reason to have to change all the previous months, again. *Headdesk again* This is not rocket science. This isn’t even the crisis on Wall Street.

:p I can’t find the discrepancy, so I just created two new lines on the spreadsheet: positive and negative adjustments. Spreadsheet balances now.

Okay, I have flagged where I had fluctuations between what I had projected to spend and what I actually spent. So now I’m ready to declare my problem areas and where I did good.

Problem categories:
  1. Bank charges (-382.00) – the bane of my existence. My goal for October is to actually have $0 spent in this category.
  2. Household, groceries, eating out, entertainment (-232.69) – the goal for October is to actually fund these categories so spending can happen without evil bank fees or the house falling apart.
  3. Electric bill (-137.93) – paid this month and past due amount, ouch. Paying October’s on time.
  4. Phone (-54.84) – overspent there but I already cut my rates at Verizon, so that should help.
  5. Taxes (-15.16) – I worked overtime and it was taxed, which was not worked into the prepared budget.
  6. Auto insurance premium, mortgage, Citifinancial – my negative balance isn’t worse because these didn’t get paid this month. Hopefully, I will squeak through October.
Did-good-in categories:
  1. Water
  2. Auto Service
  3. Gasoline – I think the savings was due to not driving for nearly a week.
  4. Short-term savings – managed to save $2.61 in change. It didn’t end up in a vending machine at work; that’s miraculous. Eventually, I think it will be added to the STEF unless I managed to fund it before I fill up the Tootsie Roll bank. Then I’ll snowflake it toward debt. Right now, I’m basking in the glow of having not spent it.
Verdict: One over-arcing goal for October: I will only allow myself a $2 bank charge for Demco’s money order. This is what I will concentrate all month on.

Creating next month’s budget: In simple English, October is going to suck.
  • Mortgage = 401.54
  • Auto insurance = 641.51
Damn, that’s over $1000 on those two bills. *Whimper* Okay, I filled out October estimates on the spreadsheet for a zero balance.

What doesn’t get paid:
  • Phone
  • Electric
  • Auto service
  • Gasoline
  • Savings
  • Only-spend-cash categories
and I have spent the last of the emergency food stamps.

What is the shortfall? Or in other words, how much money do I need to earn from another income source? Going back to my percentage exercises from last month, this is what I figured as best scenario:
Taxes and bills paid automatically = 63.39%
Debt payments = 19.69%
Savings = 1.92%
Cash-only categories = 15%

Now that’s what it should be if I was able to make ends meet on one paying job. Wouldn’t be in this mess if it was true, would I? Regroup my math because I don’t have a full paycheck this month to spend, thanks to the carried-over balance. My income for October should be $2545.57. Okay, now I get 100%.

October Projected Spending Percentages:
Taxes and bills = 65.44%
Debt payments = 34.56%
Savings = 0%
Cash-only = 0%

But I already know I don’t have enough income for this month.

October Projected Spending Paying Everything Percentages:
Taxes and bills = 84.51%
Debt payments = 34.56%
Savings = 1.97%
Cash-only = 15.35%

136.39% so I need to earn 36.39% of 2545.57, which equals $926.33. To double check if that’s right, I’m going to add back in all the estimates into the October spreadsheet. Off by a quarter, so let’s round up and say I need to earn $927 a month. I can bring that figure down by not spending as much in the cash-only categories, but I don’t want to screw with that strategy. If I decide not to spend the cash, I decide not to spend the cash. Right now, it’s hypothetical because I don’t have the cash.

What else I find scary is this isn’t a strategy to build up my STEF or pay off a note. This is comfortable survival mode. I can make things go to uncomfortable survival mode, but I’m depressed enough.

$927 is the max of what I need to earn extra (I hope if my math is right). Let’s find the bottom of the range. Copy October’s spreadsheet with all the categories filled out. Take out the carried over debt from last month. Plug in the twelve-month spending average for most categories, along with my normal mortgage and car insurance premium amounts, add in a few categories I spend sporadically and should save up for the payments, and the total is $534.99 rounded up to $535. So I can’t earn any less than $535 unless I want to go with the squeaky wheel theory of budgeting—don’t save money for annual or quarterly bills and apply the money to whoever is yelling the loudest. I’d love to get away from that level of accounting.

Part-time is defined by twenty-five a week or less. So I need to look for an hourly pay range of: $9.27 - $5.35. What is the median between the two extremes? There are times I love Excel. Those times are when I can find the right preset function for the question I am asking. I should ask for $7.31 an hour if that question is on an application.

Okay, it’s fairly obvious that I can’t put off job hunting any longer.

How much cash can I have: It really depends on if I get a second job. With no second job, I don’t have money for gasoline much less groceries. I took out the categories saving for computer purchases and next year’s taxes, as well as adjusted everything back to my October projections.

With a second job earning $927 a month, I can have $390.66 in cash with money to spare at the end of the month.

With a second job earning $731 a month, I can have $257.93 in cash.

With a second job earning $535 a month, I can have $61.93 in cash.

And the deficit resulting from no second job makes me wince badly, but we already covered that territory. Moving on.

Automatic payments:

I have to call in the whole mortgage payment on October 10th as well as what I can pay on the car insurance bill on the 9th. All other payments should go in as scheduled.

Reviewing short-term savings goals:

I ended up raid the STEF more than I should have. The first should have been avoided if I had planned instead of reacted to my I don’t see a way to have avoided the second dip without borrowing money.

I set up a separate spreadsheet for the STEF totals. I can’t track it with the monthly income and expenses spreadsheet, too great a temptation to spend it.

I have $2088.17 left to go before completing Baby Step 1.

I did start a new category that I have labeled “short-term savings.” In reality, it’s just the change in my Tootsie Roll bank but every Friday, I’m going to add what change I haven’t spent during the week to it. When the container is full, I will snowflake it into the STEF or whichever Baby Step I’m on. I don’t collect change very quickly.

Updating NetworthIQ statements:

Since I just updated less than two weeks ago, I’m letting those figures stand.

Update NCN Savings Chart:

Overview and Plans:
  • Avoid bank charges.
  • Avoid vending machine expenditures.
  • Brake check for car Saturday
  • Upgrade computer battery backup
  • Upload budget spreadsheet to Google Docs
  • Reduce bill spending to 63.39% of gross monthly income.
  • Apply to Best Buy
  • Apply to Winn-Dixie
  • Apply to Wal-Mart
  • Finish Your Money or Your Life
  • Restart weekly budget meetings
  • Finish Internet project so to go live
  • Use monthly Itemized Categories reports from Quicken to reconcile
  • Set up a small expandable binder/folder (like for coupons) for money envelopes
  • Unsubscribe from Big Fish Games
  • Contact Atmos about budget billing
  • Analyze the stubborn mule comment
  • Call phone number on letter for my deferment form
  • Organize financial binders and paperwork
  • File paperwork
  • Call Sonnier Chiropractic. for what Datapath needs
  • Need to add PayPal and Revolution Money Exchange accounts to Quicken and October spreadsheets
  • Rename Transfers between Quicken accounts to “Added to account name” instead
  • Give STEF balance its own worksheet in the spreadsheet file.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

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