I’m a worrier, it is what I do. I worry about money, I worry about job stability, I worry about budgets, I worry about bills, to put it simply, I worry. To help quell my worrisome ways, I like to dedicate a substantial amount of energy to the things that I can control. Hmmm, are you sensing a theme here?
Anywho, my worrying ways are usually really funny and mostly irrational. I have a great job, I am fairly cautious with my money, I split bills with Leo, and I have almost no debt. And the debt that I do have is 100% interest free. Under no circumstances (except for school loans, so I guess that’s one circumstance. whatever.) will I not pay to borrow money – interest is the devil, I’m not interested. But budgeting – thats a real worry of mine. Last year, my finances were horrific (in my eyes). Sure, no debt and some savings and I bought a car. BUT, I also spent an ridiculous amount on shopping. Do you use Mint.com? You should for one year to fully grasp your spending habits.
I did it and now I’m assessing. I don’t like starting budgets on January 1st. It is so close to the holidays and starting your year off worrying about how much money you spend on the holidays is no fun. Buying presents for others makes me happy, I shouldn’t feel bad about it. Here’s the other trick – February is a short month meaning your money will go further if you are a salaried employee. Those two days? It counts.
Please note, for all of 2010 and part of 2011, I had two jobs. Cutting that second income was rough but it makes me be way more cautious. So, looking back last year on where my money went:
- 22% Home (Rent, Home improvement, Furnishings, etc.)
- 21% Auto and Transport (Bought a Car, Insurance, Public Transit, Gas)
- 14% Shopping (this is a real zinger. need to cut this number by a third this year)
- 11% Food and Dining (I’ll break this down later)
- 10% Travel (went to some great places this year)
- 7% Bills & Utilities
- 5% Non-categorized (Not sure what this is, but by going through my Mint account at the end of each month I can categorized these charges and understand where this dinero is going.)
- 10% Other stuff that adds up
For the month of January – here’s what it is looking like:
- 30% Home
- 24% Food & Dining
- 16% Auto and Transport (Me and the City of Chicago got in a fight about parking tickets…that was most of this amount and the City won, it always does)
- 8% Shopping (Late Christmas Gifts, hobbies)
- *These percentages do not include savings
For the rest of the year, I have some big goals budget-wise:
- 25% Home
- 20% Food
- 15% Travel (Atlanta, Colorado and maybe Costa Rica? We’ll see!)
- 10% Savings
- 8% Shopping
- 8% Auto & Transport
- 8% Everything else (gym, hair, entertainment, student loan)
- 6% Bills & Utilities
To get to this budget, I’ll be investing in more important things (travel, eating good food, loving my home) and be careful. No self-deprivation here, only prioritization. One month in to the year, I’m confident that I’ve done really well without really trying. To be honest, I’ve spent more on shopping (in cash only) because I pay for groceries and Leo pays me back in cash. It’s called lying to Mint.com and it is a terrible habit that I have. Oh well!
How are you tracking your 2012 financial goals? Are you a Mint user? Lover? Hater? Cheater?