Well, Here It Is…

…the results of my audit of our spending for the last three months:

Discretionary spending by month and category, Oct.-Dec. 2010

It’s odd, isn’t it? I’m not sure if November is typical and the other months are outliers, or the other way ’round. I can identify some of the large expenses: parts and repairs for The Little Red Wagon; medical treatment for Queenie the Weenie; dental work and eyeglasses for My Dear Wife; a trip to The Big City; and Christmas, which always manages to trip us up somehow. Oh, and The Middle Boy went through three mouthpieces for his school-rental clarinet at roughly $20 each. Owch. I also graphed the average spending for each category:

Since “Travel” and “Gifts” only occurred in December, the average is the same as the total. I wish I’d been collecting this data all year so that I could have a better idea of what our monthly averages for these things have been, but that is sadly not the case.

Things obviously have to change. I’ll need to find some part-time work, at the very least, if we’re to avoid blowing through more loan money; we also have to establish strict yet workable guidelines for what we spend, and then stay within them. Of course, if it were really easy for us, we would have done it by now, and we wouldn’t be in this boat.

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About poorlocavore

Welcome to one family's journey towards a smaller food-mile footprint on a small food budget. How do our choices affect the environment, and what influences our choices? Read on and find out what I'm learning.
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4 Responses to Well, Here It Is…

  1. Momof5 says:

    Wait, what? If the total of gifts was $300ish, all spent in December, doesn’t that mean the monthly average over 3 months is $100ish per month?

    We struggle with the Christmas/travel budgeting as well – even though we know they’re coming, when we set that money aside in the months ahead it seems always to get pulled into something else important: car repair, dentist, that kind of thing.

    You’re very brave to put these numbers out for all the world to see. I can barely stand to look at my own (equally tight) budget, and the thought of sharing it beyond our marriage would give me anxiety attacks. Good luck!

    • poorlocavore says:

      You’re right about the monthly average. The spreadsheet, on the other hand, produced the same value for both because of how it functions. If I adjusted the values in the cells, it probably would show up correctly, but I didn’t want to manipulate the data.

      we have a huge “cross-over” problem with allocating funds as well. I’m thinking of going back to actual envelopes with actual cash in them, although that is both tedious and risky from a loss-control point of view. Maybe a “virtual envelope” system with index cards…must think about this.

      • Momof5 says:

        We do actual envelopes for a couple of categories – notably food and school lunches, haircuts, clothing, toiletries – and it’s amazing what a difference it makes. We were worried after re-adopting that system (having felt for 15 years like we didn’t need it – ha!) that some of the cash would be too tempting for the teenagers, but it hasn’t been. Besides, if they were to dip into the school lunch envelope, well, they’d run out of lunch money! But it does eliminate some of the over-thinking that comes from complicated allocation strategies: if it comes out of the haircut envelope, it’s a haircut. Even if it’s really shampoo.

      • poorlocavore says:

        Over-thinking is one of our mortal enemies. Part of the frustration for me is trying to keep track of *every single penny* and it would take all day.

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