One of my goals for January was to consistently create content for Chaotic Critic and I am so proud that I have ben able to do so. One of my favorite series that I’ve created here on the blog this year is my Low Income Budget series. I’ve been bringing you all along on my journey to financial freedom. It’s easy to write down my bills, but it’s skill and discipline to not only pay but to keep expenses at a minimum. Let’s not even get to savings.
This post is all about my February budget and what I failed at in January.
As always, be sure to click the links throughout this post for related posts and links to purchase items/similar styles featured.
Note: For new readers, the planner that I use for my budget planning is the classic Happy Planner budget extension pack. It features undated 6 months with a month at-a-glance, monthly spread, bill checklist, expense tracker, and budget review. Not sponsored by Happy Planner, just a fan of the products, quality, and affordability.
Simply, paying my bills is what worked. I was able to bring majority of the bills I wanted to bring current, current minus one.
What Didn’t Work
Excessive spending didn’t work. I was good on not spending anything when it came to planner supplies. Still, being that the money was there and I was able to space out certain bills, I spent in areas where I shouldn’t have instead of saving. I should have put more in my savings than buying fast food just because I had it.
I did end up going grocery shopping and that one trip I was able to get food for a week and a half versus spending $20 on fast food in a span of 2 days. Clearly, I have to do better. There are so many other cheaper and healthier options than eating takeout. Every once in a while, it’s fine. More than once a week, not good.
I took a different approach when putting together my budget this time around. I decided to start with the Month-At-A-Glance page which is broken into different categories. With this I was able to round not only how much my bills would be, but my main and extra income as well.
Being that I babysit, my monthly income is not the same week to week. When I was working corporate, I knew how much I’d be making each month. Now I have to estimate so I say $400 a week. Some weeks are more than others, but estimating $400/week brings my monthly total to approximately $1600. I also added in my tax refund which is around $750 as extra income. Adding those up came to a total of $2,350.
When I calculate both incomes at the end of the month I will then compare how accurate I was. That will help me going forward in estimating my income.
The Month-At-A-Glance sheet is broken into categories. Not all them I use nor the subcateogies, but here’s the ones that I do (plus my estimations for the month):
- Housing – Mortgage/Rent, Phone, Cable | Total: $950
- Transportation – Auto, Maintenance, Gas |
- Insurance – Health, Life, Car | Total: $320
- Food -Groceries, Dining Out | Total: $80
- Personal Care – Medical, Clothing, Hair/Nails, *Eyebrows| Total: $10
- Entertainment – Movies, Outings | Total: $40
- Loans – *Kohl’s | Total: $35
- Misc. – Car Note, Service Charge, Therapy | Total: $362
To calculate the estimations I rounded how much each of the subcategories would be.
In looking at how much I estimated for the month between my income and my expenses. I estimated my total income to b $2,350 versus my total expenses $1,947. That equals a difference of $403. So adding in the miscellaneous $200. That leaves a difference of $200 or so which I’ll need to save.
What I Need to Work On
I fail tremendously at adding on expenses after I write out my budget. To solve this, I’ll create a general miscellaneous category with $100. This month it’ll be $200. Being that I will be receiving my tax refund, the one thing that I will be purchasing that’s over $100 is my Masters Degree.
Interested in what I use to stay on top of my budgeting, check out some of my favs below:
- Happy Planner
- Sticky Notes | You can find these at Dollar Tree in neon colors.
- Calculator | Any basic one will suffice.