Spending Diet in July- The Last Leg

I have entered the final week of the Spending Diet with $11, half a tank of gas, and a relatively good supply of groceries. I have no idea where this leaves me but I’m not really concerned I’ll bust. If that’s the case, it looks like I am on target for $635 surplus thanks in large part to my grandmother’s unexpected cash gift of $300. If this is the case, $500 will be set aside to cover the registration fee of $2695 coming in February for my three kids to attend school next year. The leftover money is going to pay for a long overdue haircut for myself (I haven’t cut my hair in over a year), a small birthday present for MutantEldest, and school supplies for him and MutantDaughter.
I’ve thought long and hard about what to do with the things I’ve learned this month for the future. The fact is the $2695 registration fee looms ahead of me. Although I’ve saved up about $900 through payroll deductions into a credit union and will be using the $500 surplus to add on to that, I still need to set aside $215 every month until February to cover it. Before those $2695 are paid out, I also have Christmas to prepare for.
Every year, I say I’m going to budget for these types of expenses, but I never manage to, inevitably squandering the money for one “justified” expense after another. So, I’ve made the decision to not abandon the spending diet. Instead, I will be increasing my discretionary spending amount by 10% from $350 to $385. Even this increase seems snug again, and if it is I may adjust it come September, but right now, I think it’s the best way to go about achieving any type of financial goal. At the end of the month, any surplus will go into saving for these two big items. Once Christmas is done and the money for the registration is completely allocated, I’ll start throwing a portion of the surplus into debt and another portion into an emergency fund.
One more thing I am going to keep in place is the simple spreadsheet I’m using to track my diet money. For some inexplicable reason, this spreadsheet really helped me come to terms with my spending in a way my bank ledger or Mint never did. There was something about entering the debits myself and watching the remaining amount dwindle that kept me, mostly, focused. And the one thing I really loved about Mint, I managed to bring into my spreadsheet. I loved to see what percentage of my money was going where. Using some simple formulas (j’adore Excel) I have a small section right next to my ledger that automatically updates every time I enter a new expenditure and shows me what percentage of my discretionary spending is going where. I’ll give you the gory details when it’s all over.
I have to keep reminding myself this discomfort is short-lived. For one, I am on target to be rid of credit card debt by March 2012 and completely debt-free that November. This is right around the corner! Not only that, but MutantBaby’s $590 monthly daycare payments end with August 2011 freeing up a huge chunk of change for an emergency fund and debt repayment. Once I’ve hit the debt-free point, I am going to have a lot more freedom with money. If I don’t have solid budget practices in place and have not yet accustomed myself to spend less than I earn, I can really blow a huge investment opportunity window.
A while back, I mentioned that I was going to make a better attempt at financial goal-setting. As I wind down the last few days of the Spending Diet, this is what I will be focusing on. I plan on using J.D.’s post about goals being the gateway to financial success as a guide as it lists good examples of SMART goals. So there you have it. I honestly can’t believe I’ve made it this far. Just a few days to go and then we move on to the next phase!

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One thought on “Spending Diet in July- The Last Leg

  1. Pingback: Spending Diet: The End « MutantSupermodel Musings

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