I tracked our spending very closely last month. It was the first time in a very long time that I've done that and, as always, it was confirmed that if you want to get ahead financially, it's the only way to go.
We went over in several categories. I knew we would, I just wanted to see where we stood with my guesstimates. We overspent on water (oh how I wish our town had an equal pay plan, like we have for electric and gas!), groceries, eating out, miscellaneous, and donations. Still, in the end, I had a tidy sum to put into savings, which I divided among general savings, the car repair/replace fund (which has been practically empty since my car needed several repairs over the summer), and an extra bit toward the mortgage. That was the first extra money I've put into savings in over a year. It felt great!
I tweaked our budget a bit this month to reflect the overages, but I'll still need to watch it like a hawk. Case in point - I hadn't tracked anything, anything at all, for February until today, and I'd spent our entire month's grocery budget by the 10th. And that doesn't even include a few things my mom picked up for me at Costco last week that I still need to pay her for. So we'll be well over our budget by month's end.
I build an automatic cushion into our budget each month. I base our income off of no overtime for hubby (he goes to work a little bit early every day, so there's always some overtime in his checks), and a 40-hour pay period for me. I work 20 hours a week and get paid twice a month, so my checks can range from 40 - 48 hours, depending on the number of days in the pay period. And, our total budget is less than even our base pay. So even when we're over budget, unless we're GROSSLY over budget, we're never actually out of money.
But still, the more I spend the less I can put into savings. And I really like putting money into savings! Oh, if my Grandpa could see me now. Up until I graduated from high school, if I put money in my savings account (which had to stay there till college), he'd match it. I just had to show him my bank statement. I think he matched it twice. Just twice. When I was a kid, money slipped right through my fingers. There was always something I wanted - a toy, a cassette, candy, whatever. If it was expensive, I always tried to get my mom to buy it for me so I could pay her back in monthly installments. That worked up to a point, and then she'd cut me off, telling me that all my money would be tied up in installments forever and I'd never be able to buy anything again. A slight exaggeration, to be sure, but it was a lesson I learned well and I don't fall for those sales ploys today!
So that's where we ended up for January. On to finish February - and on to a better month in March!