October 5, 2011

Plan Bean: September Update

This post could easily be titled any number of things, namely:

Plan Bean: We Spent How Much? On WHAT?


Plan Bean: Spreadsheets Are Pretty (Useless)

Or (my personal favourite):

Plan Bean: We Suck

So now that you know what I'm going to say, you can go away and read something about food. Or crafts. Or giant metal chickens. Whatever. Here's a random picture of onions to keep the rest of us at least partially connected to food while we think about money:

Still here? My reward to you is this piece of wisdom: Your budget is only as good as the system you have in place to track your spending.

Earth-shattering, right? You all know that I use and love Mint.com, but recently it's become a bit snarky, refusing to give details on lots of transactions that end up in the no-man's-land of Uncategorized Transactions, which is about the same as not tracking my spending at all. Thanks.

(I'm sure it will get better.)

In the meantime, with all the lashings of free time and energy I've had lying around, I've gone to my online banking and printed out my transactions from September and come up with this sad report:

According to our budget for the things we should be able to exercise a fair amount of control over (that professionals might call "Discretionary Spending" and I call "Money I Will Probably Spend on Food"), we have these amounts available to us per month:

Groceries: $520
Gas: $173.33
Date Night: $40.00
Other: $325.00

In September, we spent this much:

Groceries: $558.75 (+$38.75)
Gas: $261.67 (+$88.34)
Date Night: $48.20 (+$8.20)
Other: $667.07 (+$342.07)

TOTAL: +$477.36

Gah! GAH! I actually realized that this wildly embarrassing catastrophe was coming when I wrote this post, and we were prepared for some bad numbers, but still. Sheesh.

That means that we socked $500 away in September savings, and promptly took it back out again to cover the Enormous Shortfall Caused By Overspending. We need ten thousand demonstrators on our front lawn to get the message across too, apparently.

We've changed our approach a little bit, so that our "Other" spending is controlled by only taking out the allowed amount in cash every week, which should be emotionally painful enough to limit the party of excess.

We'll see how that goes. I'm hoping "well", because the next step is electrifying my debit card.

In the very slim "Good News" category, we managed to sell our car (which you sharp-eyed people who peered intently at the spreadsheet from Plan Bean noticed was anticipated). We got $200 less than we had hoped for, but that money is now going towards winter tires, a front end tune up on the van, and the VISA bill. Good things, except I miss that little blue machine and very seriously considered trying to mash three children and two adults in it on an ongoing basis. The police-cops might have something to say about that, I expect.

Bye-bye, good little Echo. Thanks, nice young man for taking it off our hands, even though I'll resent you for the rest of my life for doing so, just like I do the old guy that bought our first house. Jerks.

This young man (don't I sound old) is indirectly saving us $70 a month in insurance, though, so I can pretend to forgive him, and update the October spreadsheet (and the automatic transfer I set up online, thank YOU, internet) to have that go directly to the very very sad VISA.

Are YOU crying yet? It's probably the onions.

It's definitely not boredom, in case you're wondering.