Monday, July 18, 2005

Jan-June budget, part 2

I thought I'd comment a bit more about the first half of the year's expenses vs. budget. Overall, I'm doing ok against the budget, though I set the bar pretty high. I was basically just trying to stay within what I spent last year. Some categories are up vs. last year, particularly the phone bills. Telephone is a big budget item for me, because someone I'm very close to is overseas and I make a lot of international calls. I researched calling cards and get a really good rate, but it still adds up to a huge expense. I'd like to cut it back a bit, but it's something that is really important to me, so I have to allow for it in the budget.
Food, as already discussed, is another big item. I'm being a little better about shifting the bills from the "prepared food/delis/eating out" lines (breakfast, lunch, dinner) to the "groceries" line. A couple of weeks ago I was doing well-- brought food from home for breakfast and lunch every day for a week, but then I kind of fell off the wagon. But I still try to find small ways to save money, like bringing a bottle of water from my office, instead of buying a drink along with my sandwich. I need to get my dinners out under control a bit more. But I keep thinking I cook at home way more than most other New Yorkers I know, and this is in a kitchen that is all of 30 square feet, that only has a 3/4 size fridge! It's not like I have the option of buying family packs at Costco!
Under "miscellaneous" I'm doing comparatively well this year-- see how I have a separate category for "Palm"? Yes, I am a Palm addict and last year I bought a new one, and I loved it so much I bought a spare (since they discontinued that model: Sony Clie TH-55), and then I had to buy some new software and accessories to replace old ones that weren't compatible with this model. (Some of the old stuff was given to friends or put on Ebay.)
Taxes: I have to look at why these are so over-budget, as they should just have been modeled on last year's, and since I got a smaller bonus this year, I would think they would be under budget.
Goal: come in at least 10% under budget for all categories in the 2nd half of this year.

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