Monday, January 12, 2009

Tweaking the budget

Not even two weeks in and I'm already making tweaks to make it work. To be fair, I've been practicing my budget for several months now, but my commitment will be made all the more apparent as I have less bills to pay, which equals more towards debt repayment.

I've had a few expenses come up that weren't already budgeted: $25 for a used bunk bed, $20 for coffee cards to thank my friends for helping me move, $50 for an oil change and fluid check (I wasn't going to to do this until the spring, but I couldn't get my hood to pop open and I was out of windshield juice so I went to Jiffy Lube). Plus I paid my utilities bills for the house after I already moved in here because by the time they arrived here I had put all my extra money into my emergency fund.

I increased my car gas/oil allotment to budget for the spring fluid change, which is going to be a big one because I will need to replace the transmission fluid and have a couple of filters replaced. My car is about eleven years old and still runs great and I want to keep it that way.

I decided to keep it real by adding an extra $20 for my personal spending so that I can enjoy a sushi all-you-can-eat-lunch at the end of the month. A girl's gotta live! Also, my phone bill arrived and I learned that I went WAY over budget over the holidays - like $30 over budget! I called and had them add a text package to the plan which should alleviate some of the burden in the future, but for now, I gotta pay that bill!

I have also decided against keeping the $300 or so I need for food and gas in cash in my apartment and put it back into my chequing account. I am going to return to my original plan to keep it in a separate savings account and transfer a weekly amount into chequing.

I read Suze Orman's book last night and thought it will be great for her American audience. I got a little lost with all the 401, 403 and 526 terminology and skimmed a lot of that. I didn't have the heart to try to translate it into Canadian. What I got out of it is pay off credit card debt, stop using credit cards, pay into retirement savings, don't cash out retirement savings for any reason, if possible, and save up an emergency fund of eight months worth of expenses (this will take me about eight years but I'm going to try).

She seems to downplay investing in children's education with the argument that they will be non-dependent adults by their post-secondary years and will be able to support themselves. I agree with this but I plan to at least partially pay for my son's education because I do not want him to have the student loan debt burden that I have, and he is going to college or university NO MATTER WHAT! :)

6 comments:

  1. Nothing wrong with tweaking a budget. It's just there as a guideline. It looks like you're doing a great job!

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  2. And you will always tweak the budget. ;)

    Good job on caring for the car! I take care of mine, too. At 65K miles, I have no major probs with it yet (knock on wood).

    I downloaded Suze's book to read when I have a quiet moment. I like her stuff. Glad to hear its good. :-)

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  3. Sounds like you've done a fabulous job so far of budgeting and making it realistic. From what I've read, by the end of three months, one should have a fairly good read on the right amounts for each category. At least that is what I'm hoping for mine.

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  4. I read Suze's new book too. It was very American, but the basic principles translate: spend less than you earn, maximize tax deductions etc., etc.

    Hope your budget tweaking works out!

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  5. I fine tune my budget all the time. It doesn't even phase me anymore. As you and things around you change, it's gonna change!

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  6. Sushi is a worthy splurge indeed! Also, I change my monthly budget every two or three months. In general it remains the same.

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Thanks for commenting! I will have it published as soon as I can ~ Karissa