October was a great exercise in restraint. By the end of the month we calculated average monthly expenses, organized some finance stuff, and budgeted for November and into the new year.
The hard numbers -
- Gas – $106 (we budgeted $100)
- Food – $118 (we budgeted $120)
- Other – $40 (we budgeted $30)
This budget forced us to be a little more creative with the leftovers in our fridge and as a result throw away less food. We planned meals where we could use the same ingredients in a few different dishes. If we had produce left from the previous week when planning our new meals, we made sure to incorporate it.
It was easier to stick to the $120 food budget than I had expected. It was so easy in fact that we budgeted $120 for November as well. However, this might have been a little over zealous; we spent $87 on groceries today… But, this is all an exercise to learn from and hopefully our separate Thanksgiving food budget and leftovers will help us out.
It also surprised me how much “other” money we spent when we tried so hard not to. This is a good lesson for us to take into 2013; the little expenditures add up. The other money went to meeting friends for coffee, money for a baby gift for a co-worker, and pumpkin picking.
There were a few larger expenditures this month that we did not count in this budget. We had made plans for a long weekend to Breckenridge with friends and also planned a soup potluck for friends. To handle these we created a budget for each and stuck to it!
Now that it’s November, how are we taking these lessons into the new month?
- We setup a new joint checking account that we will use for all the shared bills, food and gas. This will make it easier to track our joint spending and to make sure we are contributing equivalent amounts each month.
- In October we calculated how much it costs to make homemade dog food ($1.13 per serving or about $70 per month) and now can factor this into future budgets.
- We listed all the expected unusual expenditures for November and gave each item a budgeted amount. For example, I needed a new head and tail light for my car, Daniel needs a haircut, and there are Thanksgiving and Christmas Tree purchases to consider.
- We decided on a set budget for each month. This budget is for everything we can expect to spend money on every month (food, gas, dog food, Daniel fun, Darlene fun, and date night).
- We started a list of the bigger purchases we want to make (wiring the house for ethernet, building a backyard garden, blinds, etc) so that we can start to prioritize and save for these larger expenditures.