I thought this might make for a fun post; as fun as dancing in a field of poison ivy. It’s August 25th and I have a week left before the end of the month. Even though I budget for 1 calendar month at a time, all my expenses are broken down over the entire calendar year. That’s what is unique about YNAB – but you know that already, cuz your ass has YNAB!
3/4 of the month has passed so I have a week left to make sure that I meet my budgeting goals. Otherwise, there would be no point of spending the time to come up with a budget!
My Budgeting Process
The way I budget is to aim to spend the least dollars in order to achieve the most sustainable lifestyle. A lifestyle that pleases my idiosyncrasies and ensures that the rest of the world doesn’t have to suffer for it.
The YNAB process goes like this:
- assign each dollar a job
- break down rare expenses into monthly numbers
- cover any shortages with money from other categories
- budget for upcoming expenses in upcoming months
I set my budget for August in July. It requires a touch of foresight to predict what you gonna be doing and where you gonna spend. In July I had no idea I was gonna get up and move to another country (unexpected expense category).
In order to deal with such schizophrenic actions which I’m prone to, I needed to budget a little extra into travel and housing. And I needed to do this in August because I decided in August that I’m moving.
This is one of the rare times when I increase my budget within the month that I’m spending in.
I have a buffer category which I call ‘Savings’. It’s not really my savings but that’s what I like to call it. You can call yours ‘pink butterfly’ – as long as you have one, it doesn’t matter how unmasculine the name is.
Spending So Far In August
$3,267.23 is what I have spent so far. I have another week to go so it matters more what I have left in each category ($223 left to spend for the month, as you’ll see below). As you can see, rent killed me – fucking AirBnb… just kidding, without AB I’d be homeless in Barcelona.
Here is a screenshot of what I have budgeted and how much I’ve spent, and how much I have left to spend in each category. It won’t be easy to read the small image below so let me break it down in nauseating detail.
Column 1: Category name
Column 2: How much I budgeted
Column 3: How much I’ve spent so far
Column 4: How much is left in each category
- Biking – not biking in Barcelona
- Cell – $85.90 left to spend (over-budgeted because I didn’t know how much I’d need)
- Coffee – $68 left in this category, spent $31.95
- Clothing – have $11 (I budget about $100 for the year)
- Commute – mostly for public transport
- Dining out – $123 left in this category, haven’t eaten out much here
- Donation – $44 left over
- Entertainment – drinks with friends before leaving for Barcelona
- Electricity – Portland condo expenses
- Exercise – gym membership in Portland and here ($26 left over)
- Groceries – $220 spent, $52.92 left over for the month
- Health – $228 spent
- Housing – $512 for Portland condo (repairs) and $1,838 left over for end-of-year property taxes + potential future repairs
- Internet – spent $50 for WiFi in Portland condo
- Investment – irrelevant, not part of my actual expenses
- Personal Finance – $125 for financial adviser
- Rent – $1,675!! whyyyyyyy?!
- Stuff I forgot – spent $140 on 2 electric razor because 1st one sucked
- Savings – irrelevant, not part of actual expenses (acts as my buffer category)
- Taxes – will owe ~$2,683 extra taxes for a late addendum (already set aside and ready to go)
- Travel – $105 in travel related expenses to get to Barcelona
- Work Expense – irrelevant, don’t consider this part of my expenses, more of an investment
How To Budget To Stay On Goal
Most of those categories aren’t going to have any more expenditures for the rest of the month. And even though they might have extra money left in them, my goal is to spend the least possible and not to exhaust a category just because it has a budget left.
The categories which are going to be the toughest are:
- Coffee ($32)
- Commute ($14)
- Dining Out ($124)
- Entertainment ($0)
- Groceries ($53)
- Travel ($0)
- And… unexpected expenses (?)
In the above list I also added how much each category has left for me to spend without going over. Of course, if I choose to overspend in the grocery category then I can raid my dining out category to cover it.
I have a total of $223 left to spend for all the categories above before September 1st. We all know that it takes one dinner out with friends to destroy that sum of money. An unexpected auto repair, a dental emergency, a last minute work/leisure trip.
If I can manage to not spend this $223 then I have that much more money that I can invest in my private brokerage. But, it’s not so much trying to keep this amount but rather avoiding spending over this amount.
Usually, the last 5-7 days of the month I sit down in my journal and write out what I expect these next days to look like. Back in the day when I was working full-time, I would figure out which job site I had to go to and plan meals/commute expenses accordingly.
If I have social events scheduled then I may make adjustments as needed. It’s hard saving no to people but if others feel comfortable saying no due to children then I feel fine saying no due to financial commitments.
“Sorry, I thought I could join you guys for xyz but it’s no longer in my budget, can I meet you guys for a nightcap after the event?”
Plan Your Food Budget
I have no reason to eat out for the next few days so my grocery budget ($53) should be more than enough to get me through until September. I overspent a little the past few days because I got cute buying some fancy pre-packaged foods.
I’ll focus on loss-leaders, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, rice, beans, and those rice wafers which I’m hooked on.
I plan on continuing to have my espresso every day which is only $1.36 per day, or $8 for the rest of the month. That means I’ll be under my planned budget in that category.
What if you weren’t a Bum like me?
From today until 9/1 I have zero commitments. As such a slacker, it’s really not hard to avoid overspending.
What about those of you who have kids, have pets, a slight alcohol habit, and on your last roll of Charmin Ultra?
Stretch out whatever you have! This is the best advice I can offer. True, if you spend $200 over your budget, the world won’t end and your behind will be grateful. But it’s an exercise, it has bigger consequences and that’s why it’s a worthwhile skill to master.
Raid your pantry.
Make something with leftovers.
Put your cat on a diet.
Wipe with your partner’s Harper’s subscription.
Get creative with childcare and break out the moonshine.