As said in my introductory post, the biggest way this is going to be done is through cutting monthly spending where I can. Below is a not-complete breakdown of my monthly spending. The key here is monthly. Things like my 2013 umpiring certification that I paid last week ($45 once per year) will not be represented in this chart. Also, there are a few other things – such as how much money I put away into the emergency fund/short term savings – that I won’t track here. This is for tracking spending that I have control over, to some degree.
I think the table is self-explanatory. I keep track of everything and the table tells me if I’m on pace to come in under my goal and by how much per day (copy/paste typo: this is FM April, not FM March).
Where do these goals come from, one may ask. Basically, I fully tracked my March spending and set goals for April accordingly. Here’s the breakdown, with the delta from FM April in parentheses:
Eating Out – Lunch: $40 (-10.11)
Spending money on lunch at work, to be more specific. I actually did much better in this category than I anticipated. However, that may be a direct result of the 7 fewer work days during April, due to spring break. My goal is simply no more than $10 spent per week on lunch. This requires me to limit my Jimmy John’s runs to one per week. That is a very daunting goal.
Eating Out – Social: $120 (-34.76)
This could also be counted as part of my “Entertainment” category. However, I decided to keep them separate simply to have more data to work with. As you may notice, most of my entertainment comes in edible form with friends. Normally, at the many local establishments in Ann Arbor. Originally, I set the lofty goal of cutting this in half. However, after running the numbers, I think that I can hit my loan mark of $800 without doing that. Also, just like I won’t be moving into a cheaper apartment, I won’t be forsaking my social life and living the life of a hermit. I think I’ll come in under $100 with some focus, but I’m going to leave it at $120 to hopefully get off to a positive start.
Eating Out: $50 (-44.61)
This is my miscellaneous eating out category. The one that gets incremented when I decide to stop at Chipotle on the way home instead of eating something already in the fridge. It came in at nearly $100 for March. Terrible. My goal is to cut it in half.
Groceries: $150 (-74.44)
I’m still not sure how this will go. I think I can drop groceries down significantly and will try to do so (this may be aided by me loading up the fridge 2 days before Fiscal April). If I’m going to lower the amount of times I eat out for lunch and dinner, I theoretically need to increase the amount I spend on groceries. However, I still believe I can cut both categories by eliminating some empty costs: pop, chips and munchies, not portioning properly and throwing food away. Lot’s of work to do here; definitely my most ambitious goal.
Entertainment: $125 (+98.65)
This is the category I’d throw that occasional trip to the movies in. Last month I was able to limit the non-dinner/drinks entertainment to nearly nothing (thanks to selling back some NCAA basketball tickets I couldn’t use for twice the cost to me). I know I have a $100 softball fee coming up, thus the anticipated increase. I’ll try to limit the rest of my non-dinner/drinks entertainment to $25 for the month, which I nearly did in March. Doable as long as I don’t buy things.
Clothing: $0 (-0.00)
I don’t need anything, though there’s plenty of items that it would be nice to update/replace. I’m putting off wardrobe purchases until I see how this new budget settles in.
Gasoline: $60 (-54.28)
Here’s the fun category. I bought a pretty nice road bike last summer. I regretfully did not bike to school once in the fall (3.5 miles one way). I had the excuse of coaching soccer in the fall and needing to be able to run home quickly to let the dog out, get my soccer stuff and wanting to save the extra 30 minutes that biking would otherwise cost me. Those excuses are gone. My goal is to ride to work 3 times a week in Fiscal April. That should save me about $12 in gas directly. Indirectly, I won’t be driving anywhere during lunch nor will I be buying Jimmy John’s if I don’t have my car, so even more money to save. Add in the trips downtown I can now take on my bike instead of driving and take out the two long trips I had to make in March and I think this goal is definitely doable.
Automotive: $0 (-17.23)
TV/Internet and Utilities: $190 (-16.16)
April and March should theoretically be my cheapest utilities months of the year other than September and October (when I’m coaching and gone for almost all waking hours). I bet I can knock more than $16 off my electric bill, but we’ll see.
I didn’t have any miscellaneous spending in March, but figured I should go ahead and throw an extra $25 into the budget for little things that don’t fall neatly into a category: quarters for tire fills, parking meters, etc.
Medical Expenses: $0 (-0.00)
No plans on getting sick – I never do. A dentist appointment is on the horizon, though probably not until late May/early June.
Some of the goals are well within reach. Some are pretty optimistic. However, eight days into this new budget and I am projection to come in well below the bottom line I’ve set for myself. A decent start that hopefully can be sustained. My final introductory post will detail my April loan payment; the official beginning of paying down this $62k.