Friday, December 5, 2008

November Recap - How I Did Last Month

Last month was a pretty good month, all things considered. While I didn't manage to hit my $900 goal, I was able to come pretty close. In addition to bringing in quite a bit in income, I also managed to do some major savings on my budget, so the month was a success. I am still striving to hit that $900 number, but it is nice to know that by scrimping in other areas, I can still make all my bills and get them in on time. Here's a break down of highs and lows for the month:

Electric Bill: As mentioned in a previous post, I rocked my electric bill. I still have my budget set at $52.40, since that was what was estimated, but I came in at a sweet $24.92. I really had to consider for this month if I was going to put up a Christmas tree and Christmas lights or not. I love seeing those low bills - but I also love Christmas lights. My solution? I decided to go ahead, but I only have them inside on Christmas trees (one regular sized, one small one in my bedroom) rather than having any outdoor lights. I also have them on timers so they are only on when I am home. I love having the tree on a timer because then I can see it as I pull into the driveway at night. It's a little thing, but it makes me happy.

Water Bill: I pay this quarterly, but I keep track of it monthly, since it is just easier for me to have a monthly budget. It is projected for $39.23 per month, but came in at $26.37. This is another great win for me. Unfortunately I just got the bill for next quarter and it looks like it went up. It is still under the original projected amount, so that will work out okay.

Auto Fuel Bill: This gas bill is always a month in arrears, so this is actually for the gas that I purchased for my car in October. The reason for this is because I put all my gas on a store credit card and pay it off each month. So, my budget for this is $150.00 and October's gas came in at $131.78, for another nice little savings. The great news is that I got a peek at my November bill, which came yesterday, and it is sweet! Between not driving a lot and the decrease in gas prices, I saved a bundle.

Car Maintenance: Sadly, this one came in over budget. I don't actually put anything aside each month for car maintenance, which I know is bad - but there is just no more room to squeeze it in. When I have car repairs, it just has to come out of savings. This month I had to replace a tire, but fortunately it was only $29.50. That wasn't too bad, really.

Cell Phone: My cell was under budget by $.23. Not a whole lot of excitement I know, but this is the start of my discontinuing my cell phone warranty plan. This month the bill should be down by $3.99.

Groceries: I blew my grocery budget, unfortunately, by $33.97. I was doing great, right up until Thanksgiving. Then I had two recipes I wanted to make and I needed ingredients for both. In fact, one of them, a chocolate mocha ice cream pie, I didn't have one ingredient in the house for. I probably should have made something else, but I really wanted to try this recipe and when else can you make something like that? I needed an event when there would be several people to eat it with me, on a day when people wouldn't care about how many calories they consumed - it had to be Thanksgiving. Also, while I was making my grocery list I realized I was just one or two ingredients from making several different healthy winter dishes. By picking up some carrots, barley, tofu and a few other things I have everything I need to make a bunch of great recipes. Theoretically, this should mean my December grocery bill will be low, but you know, it is another fun time of year to try crazy desserts...

Dining Out: Even though I was over budget in this category by $7.90, I am still pretty proud of myself here. Early in November I worked one of my part time temp jobs. It calls for late nights and I went out after a few of those evenings with some of that gals I work with. Consequently I didn't have time to pack lunches the next day, and ended up eating out. These are all things I can fix for the next time I work this job by making up a batch or two of something easy to pack for lunches - soup or a casserole, for example. So, why am I proud of myself? Because I realized I was over budget midway through the month and even though there were several opportunities and temptations for eating out later in the month, I held fast. It took some willpower but I knew I had to do it.

Entertainment: No entertainment this month, which meant $50 stayed in my checking account.

Home Improvement: I ended up being over in this category by quite a bit, however, most of those expenses were for my tenant or landlord related: salt for walks, supplemental heater, plumbing products. Had I only counted the purchases made for my personal home improvement, I would have been well under budget.

eBay: I did more Amazon and sales this month, so my budgeted eBay fees were way under for this month. That is kind of a mixed blessing, because while it is nice to have lower fees that also means far less income from this category.

Gifts: Only one small gift purchased this month, so I was over by $28.00. I won't be able to say that this month though!

Income: I was rather pleased with income this month. While I still would like to earn more, I also realize that I did a lot of work in November that I won't get paid for until December. I don't count it in my budget until the check clears, so I'll be adding it in this month. Likewise I am doing some work this month that may end up being paid next month. eBay sales were a little low compared to other months, but that was due to me being busy working part time jobs - not because items weren't selling. Amazon and Half did fairly well, though so far December is looking like a better month. I also was paid $24 for Mystery Shopping and $3.00 for a Pinecone survey, so the small income streams are paying as well.

One thing that I don't write about a lot, but I have mentioned in the past, is my credit card. When I started this whole process, my credit card balance was at $1,466.11. As of last month's statement I am down to $971.31. I am currently paying $75.00 a month on it and whenever I have extra cash, throwing more at it. I know that paying that off would give me an extra $75.00 per month and frankly, would just make me feel better. I will definiately have it paid off next year as soon as I can, but in the meantime it feels great to have that under $1,000!

Beautiful November photo by: Bri...D

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