Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I love going out, seeing friends, eating in restaurants, and catching a movie at the theatre, but the budget forces me to make decisions I'd rather not make. A good friend just moved here from Ontario and we've been trying to get together for weeks, but one thing or another got in the way.
I have now, after weeks of trying postponed it for at least 13 days.
I knew when I graduated that I would have a major debt load to contend with. I was never a crazy spender, but I did travel the east coast for 4 months on a student line of credit, so clearly I don't always make the wisest choices - that being said, I don't regret what I've done. My debt was incurred moving across the country, and developing into the person I am today and I couldn't be happier with how things worked out.
The choices I made and the strong urge to cut the 12 year repayment my bank is requesting in a third demands a semi-strict approach to my spending habits. You see, I have a set amount I can spend on different things each month.
The rough break down right now is:
Eating out/Entertainment: $100
Sports/Hobbies: $60 (completely spoken for until May as a result of Dragon Boat)
Other (personal care, medical, household items): $50
This doesn't include my minor bank fees, cheap cell phone or bus tickets not to mention, rent, savings and debt repayment. I worked out these numbers working from Gail Vaz-Oxlade's super awesome budget spreadsheet used to make the money jars made famous on her tv show "'Til Debt Do Us Part" which is on Slice here in Canada. These are variable expenses which change each month and it is at my discretion how I spend the money.
It's March 18th and I'm plum out of money save $22 for groceries next week. I don't use the jars Gail suggests because I tried it and I know I'm not that great at writing things down, but I use two credit cards (one for groceries and one for the rest) which are paid in full each month to pay for things and I have Microsoft Money on my computer which helps me keep track of what I've spent each month and what I have left to spend.
My friend has asked if we can catch the movie we've been yearning for this weekend and I just said, "Not this week, how's April for you?" It's little decisions like that which allow you to stay on track. Some things can't wait and you borrow a little from next month, but when it's avoidable, avoid it! You can't make your budget like a diet, it will strangle you, you will cheat and you will get fat/in debt again. It is a living thing, bound to change, but you must commit to doing your best and taking into account the big picture. The movie will be there in two weeks, as will the eager friend. I consider this a small victory for my monthly budget.