January Budget Report

Overall, I did well. I tracked every cent I spent the entire month, including mundane stuff like soda from the snack fridge and parking meters. Without going into boring detail, I managed my expenditures well. I did go over in grocery, entertainment, and eating out (all 3 are the same category) and had a couple unexpected expenses - namely a new microwave and the registration fee for the Navigator prayer retreat. My chiropractic was much higher than projected since I had several outstanding visits.

The chiropractic and unexpected were necessary and worthwhile expenditures so I don't feel too badly about that. My food and fun budget was $465 ($15 per day) and my excess for the month was $70. I can look through the month's expense list and see a handful of things I could knock off - I purchased a video game on impulse on the first of the month that was about $45 of that and taking a salad from home for lunch costs about half what it does to buy from the salad bar (and my salads are fresher and contain exactly what I want). Despite my excess expenditures, I did manage to contribute a significant chunk to my Roth IRA for tax year 2008, which brought my yearly contribution to half the allowed limit.

I have already learned the value of tracking expenditures daily and established a habit of doing so - when it's at the forefront of your mind, it's not difficult to have a pb&j sandwich instead of going out for mediocre fast food or to pass on junk food at the supermarket. I've also learned it's important to be flexible - it may be more important to participate in an activity or have lunch with friends than to save another few bucks.

One cost associated with this new mode of operation may end up being one of my dress shirts! I often jot down what I spend at work on a post-it note and stick it in my shirt pocket. Last time I washed my shirts, I overlooked one of these and it bled yellow onto my blue and white striped shirt. I hope I can get it out - I did wash it cold but also dried it.

My financial goals for the year include funding my Roth completely for 2008 and 2009 (2008 may be funded until April 2009), starting an emergency fund, and beginning to make principal payments on my remaining undergraduate student loan (which was in deferment until I earned my Master's). The balance of emergency fund/savings account to student loan principal remains to be determined.