Style Tuesday: Cramping My Style

February 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm 2 comments

This post is about finances – personal finances. But I’m not getting personal. I’m not telling you how much money we don’t have or we have so I don’t think this falls into the “you should never talk about finances at a dinner party” category. But maybe it does. I’m sure someone will tell me on or offline (Derek, mom).

Do you have a budget? We used to before we had kids. We knew what was coming in and what was going out the door each month. We used to be the king and queen of the Excel spreadsheet.

Since we’ve had the kids, we still know what’s coming in, but we’ve let the spreadsheets go a bit on the expense side of the equation. As long as our bills are paid, and our investment and savings goals are met each month, we seem to have adopted a laissez-faire attitude, or perhaps it’s a head buried in the sand attitude.

I have seen enough morning show segments on budgeting, that I think it’s time to go through this exercise again. We have friends who have adopted the Gail Vaz-Oxlade cash-in-jars for each budget line system of budgeting. They have something specific they are saving for, and it’s working really well for them.

That is definitely not what I’m talking about. I just want to know what we spend roughly each month. It means several hours of analyzing twelve months worth of visa bills and bank statements.

I’m using some online budget examples to remind me of line items that might not be top of mind. When I started listing expenses, I somehow forgot that my husband gets his hair cut, goes to the gym, plays in basketball leagues, and goes to hockey games, essentially most of the things that he does for himself.

I think it will be interesting to compare the pre- and post-children monthly expenses. I have some theories on the major differences, but I’m not sure I’m correct. For example, I know I definitely did not pay for childcare or preschool back then, but I think our restaurant budget ought to be less now.  And I’m wondering about travel – we definitely travel less often but when we travel with the kids, it means more seats on the plane and larger hotel rooms.

Luckily we’ve had little inflation over the last 5.5 years; that might have made my comparison too complicated.

I’m looking forward to this project. I think it will make me feel in control. Or it will make me feel like I want to throw up, and maybe even stop shopping (at least for a day or two).

I would love to hear from anyone who has done this recently. Was there any expense that really surprised you or stood out? Did you then stick to a monthly budget or was it purely an exercise in understanding the status quo? Ultimately, did you find that whether you had intended to or not, you changed the way you spend?

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Entry filed under: General Ramblings On, Style. Tags: , , .

Style Tuesday: Pretty Underthings Fitness Friday: Do I Really Have to Carry Water?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lynn  |  February 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    We did this just last month…are we living parallel lives? Your blog is kind of starting to freak me out.

    Anyway, we found Christmas to be a bit more of a pinch this year than in previous years – we had to dip into our emergency savings to pay our credit card bill. So in January, we did a full budget, which we hadn’t done in at least five years. I was surprised to find out that we had much less disposable income than I thought – the kind of cash that gets used for renting movies, eating out, getting the kids an impulse treat when we are at the mall, Scholastic books, random CDs and iTunes downloads…the little things.

    Since then I have been keeping much more careful track of my spending from week to week. I have a loose budget for my week for discretionary spending and I try very hard to meet it or come under. So far I’m running at about par and it’s harder than I thought. But I like the fact that I now think about everything before I buy it – it’s a good mindset.

    We haven’t done a lot to try to cut down on the major expenses, yet. It’s more a matter of finding the time to brainstorm than an unwillingness to change. Hopefully we’ll get there someday.

    Reply
    • 2. fitforakid  |  February 25, 2011 at 3:27 pm

      Seriously Lynn… a bit freaky.

      I spent the whole day working on this yesterday. First I tried to do all of last year and the number I came up with was nauseating (to say the least). Then, after MUCH discussion, we decided that it wasn’t accurate or at least representative of our lifestyle because I couldn’t really track the transfers to and from accounts, payments for our new house build, etc.

      So… we are tracking going forward. And I entered February to-date. Much, much more reasonable, though we can still make changes in some areas, many of the same ones you listed above.

      I’m looking forward to seeing the results over a three-month period. We’ll work on a budget from there.

      In the meantime though, I did pause for a second before purchasing my coffee 🙂

      Reply

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