Thursday, October 18, 2007

Year to Date Expenses Vs. Budget

As I've mentioned here before, I use Pocket Quicken on my Treo as a complement to the desktop version. Though the desktop program offers many more features and more detailed reporting capabilities, the pocket version is actually quite good for just keeping budget amounts for expense categories and showing actual vs. budget and mini reports of spending by category, payee, etc. So I frequently look at my net worth, budget and expenses on my Treo, while killing time on the subway or whatever, but I guess I hadn't looked at my full year expenses vs. budget recently. When I did just now, I was not happy about it!

For 2007, I allowed myself a clothing budget of $1,800. I've already spent $1,821. For gifts given, I budgeted $1,200, and I've already spent $1,381. This does not include a single Christmas gift! My "miscellaneous" budget was $1,500, and I'm at $1,902. For dining, I have only $701 remaining for the rest of the year. That might not sound like a problematic amount given that there are two and a half months left in the year, and a single woman should be able to survive on way less than $280 worth of food per month. But hey, I'm a swingin' city gal in the Big Apple, and the least I've spent on food in any month in the last couple of years is about $375-- I normally budget around $650 per month.

This is the crappy part about trying to mind one's money. How do I approach the rest of the year? Do I batten down the hatches and eat nothing but ramen noodles for the rest of the year? Do I pass up buying any article of fall/winter clothing that I might want or need? That doesn't sound like much fun!

I do have a couple of budget categories where I can make up some of this-- I'll be several hundred dollars under budget for travel, most likely, and will hopefully come in slightly low on telephone and entertainment expenses. But unfortunately I don't think this will be one of those years where my budget and expenses only differ by $13!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think that realizing you're over budget could be a great motivator for the rest of the year. If it were me, I'd try to meet the challenge of coming out even. After all, retiring comfortably is more important than drinking an overpriced martini today. As for clothing, I can't imagine you're in danger of going naked-- maybe you could sell (or even return?) some older or unworn items to make room & cash for new. Entertain at home. For Christmas, regift-- you work in publishing, so I'm sure you have lots of extra books you could pass along. You can do it!

Anonymous said...

Hey swinger, by all accounts your still in a better position than most people. Next year just budget more money to those categories you went over on.

Anonymous said...

You are being too hard on yourself. Look at it like this ... you went to your boss for a raise, how about 'sharing' that percentage with your budget categories?

Curtis Miller said...

I've always hated personal budgeting too... and I support corporate finance departments doing major budgets! The worst part was trying to be detailed down to the line items. It seems you can never plan for everything.

I'm starting work on the 60% budgeting solution for next year. Of course, we are at like 65-70% instead of 60 at the moment, but that's just a challenge to get lower.

What I like about that solution is not having to worry about the details, just about the larger categories of total expenses. It will leave me with more flexibility of WHERE I spend my budget instead of trying to keep 50 different categories all from going over budget.

Alison said...

Since you're underrunning in a few areas of your budget, I would transfer those dollars over to the categories you foresee the largest over runs. I've run into the same problem myself...so I started cleaning out my closet and listed a bunch of items I don't use/wear on eBay. I use this extra income towards my shopping budget :)

SandyVoice said...

I think probably the same thing has happened to most of us (there are always a few who come in substantially under budget every year, and I want to say to you ... :PPPPPPPPP). Rather than just atching my yearly progress, I split my expenses up into monthly chunks, and keep track of that every evening, so I never get much over budget in any one month except in emergencies. If I do get over budget in any non-emergency category, I try lower the amount I'm allowed for a couple of months after that. In your situation, I would try to keep to, or just under, my budget the rest of the year, and give myself a little bit lower budget in those categories next year to make up. All my categories roll over to the next month until the end of the year, because there are certain expenses, like gifts, that are more seasonal. At the end of each fiscal year, I adjust my amounts based on experience and hope (as in, "I hope I can convince myself to take fewer taxis this year.") There are always certain expenses, like health care, that seem to take a couple of years to even out. I do not RAISE my budget in any category unless I felt I really, really, really want to or have to.

Before your raise you were living pretty well on your lower salary, so you have a good opportunity here. I definitely would NOT put all the money from a raise immediately into expenses! That would just be encouragement to spend more on unimportant stuff, and then all the work you put into getting a bigger raise woud be wasted, the money frittered away, and you would end up with no profit. I would put as much of the raise as I could into debt relief, or some other long term goal, and try to find ways to lower my day to day expenses so I don't go over budget in the future.

Madame X said...

I definitely don't want to think of my raise as being eaten up by higher expenses. I do think I'll try to cut back a bit on eating out for the rest of the year, but I'm kind of resigned to being over budget. Hopefully I'll just manage better next year!

E.C. said...

I'm facing the same basic problem, only on a much smaller scale. Oh, the joy of being a carefree college student, when one dinner out at a fairly inexpensive restaurant is enough to blow your budget for the month.

VixenOnABudget said...

Here, here to E.C. I can echo that. The budget is for one single night out.

Anyhow, try not to spend as much this Christmas. Considering you haven't bought a single gift yet, I would definetly watch yourself on that one. Gift giving can be costly.

Anonymous said...

Bronx Chica- I'm working on paying off my debt! So far, it's been great even if I forgo alot of things like hanging out, eating out- it's worth it! Just be more careful on what you spend for the next 2 months.

Sophia said...

i don't know, when i was using MS money, whenever i came over budget for a few months consistently they would suggest that i increased my budget. lol.

i could never keep to a yearly budget. even monthly is hard for me, i.e. cut back for the rest of the last few days of the month when i realised i've overspent :\