April is here! Now that we’re a bit of the way through the month, it’s time to recap my March budget and formalize my April budget.
Looking Back: March Monthly Budget
Overall, my monthly budget in March held up well. However, there were a few areas where I can make some improvements.
- Groceries: Unfortunately, I went quite a bit over my budget for both groceries and restaurants. For groceries, I went over by $220! One thing to consider is that we went on our weekly shopping trip on March 31, so hopefully April’s grocery spending will be a bit less. We try to stay under $150 for the two of us on a weekly basis, but since we’ve moved here, we’ve rarely been able to actually accomplish that. I think I need to consider giving a bit more room for this category or finding more ways to cut back.
- Restaurants: I went over by $60! Part of this was due to a family restaurant outing and due to the fact that in the first week of March we missed our weekly grocery trip, which resulted in more takeout than we had wanted. We already know that maintaining our weekly grocery trip is key, but this just hits the point home more.
- Work Lunch: I went over by $12! This is also related to us missing our weekly grocery trip at the beginning of the month.
My April Monthly Budget
Now that I know where I went wrong in March, I can look ahead to April and hopefully improve upon my March monthly budget mistakes.
Rent: $1075 (my portion of rent – not split exactly 50/50 but almost 50/50)
Utilities & Non-Discretionary
- Gas (my portion): $25
- Electric (my portion): $40
- Internet (my portion): $28
- Cell Phone: $73
- Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: $54
Car & Transport
I am planning to experiment with an additional mode of transportation that will hopefully help me reduce my monthly Metro costs: biking! I live less than 2 miles from work, so I’ve been thinking of biking to work now that the weather is getting better. To get started, I’m going to have to take on the extra cost of getting my bike tuned up this month, since it’s been out of commission for a while.
A couple of other notes: I realized that my car insurance premium will be less than I expected, so I’ve reduced my monthly set-aside amount to $66. Woo! I also messed up my Metro card sign up through work, so I’m paying out of pocket for Metro this month and waiting until I run out of money on my card. I should have to put $60 on to get through the month.
- Car Insurance (rolls over monthly): $66 (currently at $356)
- Fuel (my portion – rolls over monthly): $20 (currently at $30)
- Metro: $60
- Bike Tune-up: $150
- Travel Fuel: $50 (for driving to Chapel Hill for the Tar Heel 10 Miler)
March wasn’t the greatest for staying in tune with our grocery and restaurant budgets. I’m increasing the grocery budget to be more realistic and to account for the fact that we are hosting a little shindig at our place this coming weekend.
- Groceries (my portion): $400
- Restaurants (my portion): $200
- Work Lunch: $40
Each month, I pay a total of $775 to minimum loan payments. Not that I’m counting or anything, but this expense is second only to rent in my monthly budget.
- Student Loans Minimum: $565
- Car Loan: $215
Shopping & Miscellaneous
Pets, clothes and home supplies all come up at infrequent intervals, so I set aside an amount each month to contribute and if I don’t spend it, it rolls over to the next month. Everything else is everything that doesn’t fit into a neat budget. I’ve increased my everything else budget to account for some one-off expenses.
- Pets (my portion – rolls over monthly): $30 (currently at $122)
- Clothes (rolls over monthly): $100 (currently at $108)
- Home Supplies (my portion – rolls over monthly): $20 (currently at $12)
- Everything else: $350
Total Expenses: $3,561 (minus savings and extra student loans)
And don’t forget…
Savings & Extra Student Loan Payments: 25% of take home pay – All of the money that goes to savings and extra student loans is split up in a 30:70 ratio with 30% going to savings and 70% going to student loans.
Retirement Contributions: I contribute 6% to my employer-sponsored 401(k) each pay period.
Notes About My Monthly Budget
“My Portion”: You’ll notice that there are a few “my portion” indicators next to my monthly budget line items. This means that it’s an expense that Richard and I split. For 99% of the things we split, we split right down the middle.
Rolls Over Monthly: This year, I’ve been trying to become more purposeful in how I budget and allocate my money. In some categories, my expenses are sporadic. Two examples of this are pets and clothing. We are proud parents to two senior pets – as a result, we’ve decided to set aside some money every month to cover those inevitable vet costs. For clothing, I prefer to do big shopping trips a few times a year rather than shopping in smaller spurts more frequently. By rolling over my budget each month, I make sure I’m accounting for the inevitable expense.
This month is going to be a doozy in the budget department! Here are some of the challenges I’m expecting.
- Tar Heel 10 Miler: I registered for the Tar Heel 10 Miler last month. I also decided not to buy new shoes until after the race, because I was not confident that there would be enough time to break them in. That means that I’ll be paying for transport costs and restaurants/outings while I’m in Chapel Hill. My goal is to roll these expenses into my regular monthly budget.
- Hosting a Shindig: Richard turns 30 this month! We are going to throw a little party at our apartment. It will cost a bit of money to host, but we’re planning to make it a fairly frugal affair.
- Travel Planning: We had wanted to go to Asheville, NC in April, but it’s unlikely that it will happen this month. Hopefully we can make it in May, but at this point everything is up in the air. I am also starting to plan for a trip in September. I may incur some expenses as I start to get things booked, but I’m hoping to mostly use points where possible.
- One-offs: I already know of a couple of odd one-off expenses this month. I’m going to be getting my bike tuned up so I can use it to get to work and save on Metro costs. I’ve also purchased a Groupon to get a haircut and keratin treatment. I’ve also planned a dentist appointment for myself and a vet appointment for Stella (our dog). Hopefully those will be the only big one-off expenses this month, but we’ll see.
What does your monthly budget look like for April?