Here ya go, Internet. Bearing my checkbook isn't easy.

My 30 days of tracking every single penny that goes in and out are finished. And I'm shocked to say the least. As I was adding several columns up, I thought I must have pushed a multiplication button on the calculator or something crazy like that. I was utterly dumbfounded at what I spent over the last 30 days.

I choose to go all old school and hand write everything. For each category I would write the name of the place I spend money at, what I bought, how much I spent and if I used cash or a debit card. I only used a credit card once and I didn't notate that amount because I did note the credit card payment I made on that particular card.

The one real difference this past 30 days has been compared to most of the year is that I was on vacation for 3 weeks. This really had a huge impact, I think, on my spending in certain areas where I'm normally very lean on such things as dining and entertainment. But that leads me to believe that my grocery bill would be less because I ate out more. WRONG. I also drove more this past few weeks than I normally do also which means that fuel was much higher than I expected. I'm just glad that gas prices have dropped some otherwise I really would have been shocked.

I'm not one of those people who's insanely private about my income or expenses so I'm just going to put it all out there. Here's the categories with amounts and income for the last 30 days.


Household: $402.66
I was truly shocked when I got this total. After I examined what the total included I realized that my trip to IKEA and my new bedding for my bedroom makeover are included in this. Normally I would expect this amount to be much less.

Grocery: $356.98
Holy crap. I had no idea. I'm almost embarrassed to say that when I started this I estimated I would spend around $250.00 for the month. Boy was I wrong. In my defense I cook almost every single dinner at home and for 2 of the 4 weeks I was packing Derick's lunch for school.

Charity/Donations: $43.95
This must sound horrible but I don't normally donate this much in monetary ways to charity often. But there were a few people who needed some help and I opened my wallet. Only $4 of this total is actually tax deductible but the good feelings I got from the rest was worth it.

Dining/Entertainment: $260.14
HOLY SHIT. I must sound delusional but I estimated $50 at the start of this project. I rarely eat out. I almost always take my lunch to work and since I cook most nights it's a treat to order a pizza, usually I just make my own pizza. The only time I eat out is when I meet a friend for dinner. I blame this high amount on being on vacation from work. This total does include a trip to the zoo, a night out on the town (which included drinks and parking) and my morning coffee that I've started making at home instead of buying.

Telephone/Cell Phone/Internet: $122.42
This is actually lower than I expected. My cell phone carrier charges me $50 one month and $120 the next for no apparent reason so I lucked out this month and was charged less than $50.

Mortgage: $1363.65
I hesitate putting this number down for all to see because well, it's misleading. Instead of a 30 year traditional mortgage I have a 15 year mortgage and I add additional money to pay down the principal every month. I'm determined to have my house paid off in about 9-10 years even though I have 12 left. This number included all taxes and insurance that are in escrow.

Savings: $250
Part of this includes money that I set aside in my traditional IRA and some includes money that goes straight into a regular savings account. The sad part about this? Every single penny that I saved came back into my checking account because I ran low on money. The money into the IRA stays put at all times which means I'm putting money into regular savings only to pull it back out within the month and take a little more than I put in. It's like this every month. I save some and take even more.

Personal: $368.19
Lord. This is exceptionally higher than I expected, also. I switched gyms this past month and had to pay $54.07 to sign up which I wasn't expecting. This also includes $40 to take a vegan cooking class (I've taken a few of them and really enjoy them). I also got a few pairs of jeans and a jacket during the month. I expect that soon I'll have to spend more money for clothes because my weight is still slowly moving down the scale and I'll need some work clothes soon.

Fuel: $230.73
I guess this isn't too bad. But I had estimated $125 which is way off.

Cable TV: $59.95
I loathe paying this bill, but how would I watch Project Runway and Top Chef without it?

Alarm system monitoring: $22.57
It's a necessary evil. My daddy might beat me if I didn't have an alarm.

Childcare: $350.00
This amount is misleading because I'm fortunate that Eric's parents pay for childcare. But I included the income from them reimbursing me into my total income for the month so it evens out.

Insurance: $345.91
This only includes my health insurance and Derick's health insurance. Self employed health insurance? Sucks. This is also a tad misleading because I'm reimbursed for this also which is reflected in my income total.

Credit Cards: $269
Oh credit cards. How I hate thee. One I paid off so this total is higher than normal.

Gifts: $12.98
I swear I'm not a cheapskate. I got the kids some small stocking stuffers for Christmas.

Kids: $50.91
This includes haircuts, clothing and books for both kiddos. I didn't spend much this month which I'm surprised about.

Total outgoing: $4,566.40 (HOLY CRAP)


Returns: $47.07
This includes a Target return which is included as an expense above so it cancels itself out.

Income: $4,813.12
This amount includes a myriad of things. Salary, child support, childcare reimbursement, medical expense reimbursement, $1 that I found on the ground at Barnes & Noble (I said I was going to count every single penny, didn't I?), transfers from my savings account and $.41 from the balance of a gift card that the cashier gave back to me in change.

BOTTOM LINE: +246.72

Technically I didn't spend more than I took in. But truthfully I really did. If I hadn't have transferred $250 from my savings account to my checking account I'd be in the hole $3.28.

I'm actually quite pleased that I was so close to my income and not over, by much. But that's because I was afraid I'd be over spending by hundreds of dollars. This exercise has taught me a few things that I need to sit down and put pen to paper to determine how I'm going to arrange my future finances. I need to get back into the habit of meal planning instead of buying out the store and making random dishes for dinner each night. I also need to set a strict budget for a few areas. I'd also like to increase my savings and the amount I put toward my house each month.

After I finish this post and close the computer down for the night I'm going to grab my old school notebook, find a calculator and a pen and make myself a budget based on my findings. It will be a bold grownup move that I'm quite old enough for and quite ready to embark upon.

Even though I'm shocked with what I spend my money on I'm glad that I took the time to track everything. Tell me, have you tracked your money for 30 days? Were you surprised? If you did, did you find that you were more aware of where your money went from then on?


So, I wrote this on Tuesday night, and as of today (Thursday), I have a new budget in place and I'm ready to take on the world. Tomorrow is payday so I start from scratch tomorrow and I'm going to track the next 30 days again to see what adjustments need to be made. I'm excited and nervous!


Kristabella said...

I just have to say, you're brave to share everything. I still live in the 1950s where you don't tell people your salary or weight. :)

Raven said...

We don't escrow our taxes so we have one savings account for that and another for travel. So we have money going to savings every payday (twice a month) but we just got all the tax bills and found out that the husband was remiss in filing out homestead exemption so we are going to have to use EVERY PENNY of our tax savings all the way into late January (when we usually pay them in December) and then get a refund. Totally freaks me out. The refund is then going to have to go right back into savings to make up for having to dip into January's savings. BAH.

We carry money over every payday so even though we don't have a budget, I try to monitor everything we are spending and keep the checking account in the + category all the way through to the next payday. It's especially hard at Christmas because Wills used to get a bonus that we don't get anymore.

I am also not touching the child support card because we are planning on using that for the kid's Christmas gifts this year, one less thing taxing the checking account.

She Likes Purple said...

I'll let you know how things go for us at the end of this month!

Melissa said...

Okay here's what we did for a budget (okay a few things really)

A) we have ONE account that is for bills. Period. Everything is due the end of the month and we pay everything the 21st of the month. Automatically. We never have to say oh shit I forgot to pay X credit card or Y whatever.

B) next we have another account for stuff like groceries gas, and extra money.

C) savings account.

So a set amount gets put into bills (2387.98 to be exact) the rest goes into our stuff account. At the end of the month whatever is left in the stuff account goes into savings.

Each month I challenge myself to shave off 75 dollars off our budget. Be it just one category or a bunch of categories put together. But there has to be incentives for saving. I get to keep the money I shave off the budget! The only "allowance" I let myself have is what I can save! It actually works out pretty well! You would be surprised how little I can spend at target when I need a haircut!

Elizabeth said...

we have an old school excel spreadsheet and I track every dime. It's not pretty, right now, but we are on the verge of paying off a big fat loan and then we get started on the credit cards.
The two things that help us the most are 1. cash for discretionary spending like groceries and 2. we have our own monthly spending money in our own accounts and we can't use "household" money for personal stuff like cd's or makeup.

jodifur said...

my husband keeps a really detailed spreadsheet of all our spending. I never look at it. I totally should.

Sarah said...

Wow, you are so awesome to have posted this. I want to do this now!

Ms. R said...

Congratulations! I am so proud of you! When we started budgeting it was actually awesome because I felt so in control of it all. Way to go!

Anonymous said...

YOu are so brave to tell us all of this! And? To even calculate all of it! I don't think I would even want to know how much we spend on eating out in my house. It's a damn shame, let me tell you!

jennyonthespot said...

Good for you! I have been wanting to do what you've done, but I get lazy. I NEED to do it... You have given me a push in the right direction:)

La Petite Chic said...

Isn't it completely shocking?! Jon and I have been keeping a monthly budget of every penny spent or earned since we started living together and it still blows my mind every month!

Crazy Mama said...

holy crap! We spend that in like 3 months....
Anywho I'm going to give this a shot in January, since we're spending left and right to pay for Christmas for 5 kids and I already know we've spent several hundred in the past 3 weeks on them.
Now to convince the husband to go vegetarian. I doubt I can get vegan.