Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January Budget Update

Monday marked the end of my personal grocery budget challenge. Did I manage to stay under? In a word: Nope.

The good news: we did successfully eat all our meals for a week based on what was in our pantry though, including one meal with an friend from college (Crock Pot Lasagna) and another meal with David's Dad and two younger brothers. It wasn't all pasta and red sauce though we also ate salmon with green beans and rice, black bean burritos and beans and rice. We ate pretty well, although there was a new recipe I tried that flopped : ( but, fortunately was still edible (cheese makes everything better!)

So what did I blow my budget on? For the most part, non-essentials: Yankee Candles that were 75% off ($6.50 for the largest size!), chocolate chips for cookies we gave to David's brother and friend who moved to New York this past weekend, 50% off Target brand holiday frappe-chinos, which are a special treat for David, and a plunger...we'll let you guess why we needed that...

The items here plus a gallon of organic milk and 2 bags of Dove dark chocolates (our favorite sweet end to the day) on BOGO at Publix are what put me over.

Looking back at the month, I feel conflicted. While $25 doesn't seem like a lot, if I over spend by just that much every month this year it will total: $300, which is a nice chunk of money we could be putting to use elsewhere (say, paying off our mortgage?)

However, I feel like I put the money towards things my family regularly uses that were on deep sale or gifts to brighten someone else's day (which I could technically put under our "gifts" budget, but I don't itemize receipts. It just gets too complicated. Would I have spent the money the same way if the numbers we have set in our budget already stretched us to our limits? (they don't, but they do allow us to give and save, which are both very important to us.) Absolutely not. But do I regret how I spent this month? Not really.

What's your take? Do you stick to the budget no matter what or are exceptions once-and-a-while ok? I know one thing, next month I want to stay under. Those are nice words, but I'm going to start tracking my numbers every week this month to make sure I don't get a "you're almost out" surprise on the last week of the month again. So stay tuned for February's Goal: updating the budget weekly (and of course, staying under).

Note: David showed me how I miscategorized something, which meant I actually ended up coming in under budget after all. However, since I made all these choices thinking it was putting me over I still think the post is relevant. Plus I have a 7 month old, like I have time to rewrite a post lol!

And in the interest of full disclosure I also did our first grocery shop of February on 1/31


The Vogt Family said...

You are amazing, Sarah! Budgets are so hard, and I thank God every day we have the ability for those little "extras" here and there. For us, I have a monthly "grocery" budget which includes cleaning supplies and toiletries. While I do try to stay under budget, I will allow myself those few extras (chocolate chips to make cookies or an extra $5 to spend on a really good produce sale, etc.) when they do come up. If I go over by $25 this month, I push myself to try to go $25 under next month - if that means we eat out of the pantry, so be it!

One tool we use is mint(dot)com which allows you to see where you stand budget wise and if you're a little over or under as the month progresses. Thanks for sharing and good luck!

AmyKB said...

I second Kathleen. We've been using Mint for almost four years now, and it's helped a lot with seeing where our money goes and budgeting for various things.

Sarah_Joy said...

We tried using Mint the first few months of our marriage. Some of our accounts didn't upload correctly and it seemed to be more hassle than a plain old excel spread sheet. Each year David has tweaked our excel sheet so that it is less and less work for me and (dare I say) prettier too!

I might give Mint another try since you both seem to love it so much, but I must say, I do love our good old excel doc : )