Stay-In-Budget January

I have always been very diligent about keeping track of our money. I've gone through several versions of spreadsheets over the years and actually enjoying entering in all the data of our finances (I was obviously an accountant in a past life). While I've always kept tabs on tabs on our money, for the past few years we have both had solid jobs in our career fields and didn't stick to a budget. However, I quit my job in August to go back to school, which I'm paying for out of pocket, so that led to a much bigger need for a budget than ever before.

I budgeted for all of our bills and a certain amount of money each month for different categories of things we usually spend on. We were doing pretty well for a few months, even with both of our birthdays in October, but the train came off the tracks in December. Between Christmas and our trip to New York, our spending has been out of control. Totally worth it, but out of control nonetheless. Erin at Love, Fun and Football recently posted that she would be co-hosting a no-spend challenge for January and I knew I needed to join in. She and her husband have focused on paying off some serious debt recently, and I am in awe! I know that a no-spend January is completely unrealistic for me, so I modified the challenge to something that works for me: a staying within our monthly budget (trust me, this is going to be challenge enough!).

Not only do we need to do this to get our spending back in check, but I do have an ulterior motive: finishing the little home gym we just set up. We have most of the equipment, but getting it set up to be perfectly the way we I want it is going to require about $500. I was toying with going ahead and spending the money just to be able to finally finish something - we are notorious project-starters, my husband in particular. Our whole house feels like one giant unfinished project! Then I realized that doing this challenge would not only be a great way to reign in our spending, but would also ensure that finishing the gym project won't cut in to our budget or our savings.

I already have the budget made but will be modifying it to make sure we are spending even less than normal. I'll check in every week with the progress. Depending on how it's going, I may purchase something for the gym, or I may wait until the end of the month when we're done to start purchasing. So here's the plan:

  • Gas: $100 
  • Groceries: $600 $500 
  • Pets: $150 $75 - obviously our pets need what they need, and we aren't going to let them go hungry in favor of saving money, but we recently bought them a lot of stuff so they should be pretty good for the month
  • Entertainment: $100 $50
  • Restaurants and bars: $200 $100
  • Coffee (yep, this is really a category all on its own...we love our coffee dates!): $150 $50
  • Clothes, shoes, and accessories: $100 $0 - we both just got a bunch of all 3 for Christmas, we don't need anything!
  • Household items (my in-denial term for "Crap I buy at Target"): $100 $50
  • Fitness: $75 - I will most definitely want to buy some things at the Charleston Marathon expo so will need to save as much money as possible for that
  • Beauty/personal items: $50
  • Random stuff we want (this is a real category!): $100 $0
  • Unexpected expenses: $150 $100

Total: $1150

We are also doing some out with the old, in with the new by selling some of our old things that we've recently upgraded. I hate having junk and seriously love getting rid of old stuff. Any money we get from that will go toward offsetting any overages, or if there aren't any, will go straight to savings.

Maybe that still seems like a lot of money to spend, but it's a big goal for us!

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