I had some pretty big expenses in 2017. Most notable, I spent about $3,000 in car repairs. I had to replace my catalytic converter and water pump, among some other lesser things. (Maybe they were broken, maybe they weren’t. I just assume I’m being screwed over both because I’m a woman and I was at my car’s dealership and go on with my life.) So next year will be the year I try and recoup as much of that as I can. (It does not help that my one credit card has charges from way back in 2014 that I’m still paying off. I need to buckle down and pay off that credit card.)
But first, the rules:
- Round down the amount of pay you take home.
- Round up the amount of expenses you are paying for.
So, if your take-home pay is usually around $950 each paycheck, then round down to $900. If you pay $545 for rent, then round up a little to $550. Not everyone does this but I find it’s the best way to make sure you have a little extra left over at the end of the month.
Secondly, the break down:
- Credit card
- Cell phone
Some people may have a car payment or medical bills or what-have-you. Add what expenses you need to. The biggest expense is going to be rent or mortgage payment. (If you don’t have either, then you are a lucky person.) For me, utilities include gas and electric payments. Water, trash, and sewer are included in my rent. I separate the TV/Internet from other utilities so I can get a better handle on how much it is. Food is food; toilet paper and soap and such comes out of Other.
Third, the calculations:
Add your biweekly pay, or however often you get paid, together to get a monthly total. For me that’s:
$900 + $900 = $1800
I rounded my pay down a little in my calculations. So, $1800 is my total budget. Now to add up expenses.
$550 rent +
$135 utilities +
$250 food +
$60 gas +
$160 TV/internet +
$40 cell phone +
$150 other =
You can see I left out the credit card. Since the credit card is something I want to pay off quickly, I’m going to subtract the rest of my expenses from the total pay and see how much is left and how much I can comfortable put toward the credit card bill. Now subtract expenses from total pay. I rounded my expenses up. My rent is actually $545, the utilities are $125, etc. Give yourself a little extra padding by rounding expenses up and income down a bit.
Forth, the end total:
$1800 – $1345 = $455
So at the end of the month, if I stay on budget and nothing else comes up or there are no emergencies (just had a good laugh at that), I will have $455 left at the end of the month. I’m going to round down, and say that there is $400 left, to give myself a good cushion. This cushion is for emergencies and other surprises.
My credit card bill stands at a little more than $3,000. If I am able to pay the full $400 each month, that means I will completely pay off the credit card in 8 months. (7.5 months.) All that rounding up and down also leaves me extra, which will stay in the bank account as emergency money. Hopefully, no emergencies big enough to completely ruin that month’s budget but one can only hope.
Can I do it? To be honest, probably not. Something is going to happen, either to something I own, my cat, or myself. The world is a unpredictable place and trouble finds me when I least need it. But this is the plan. I’m not depriving myself. I can survive comfortably on this and have a couple luxuries. (Candy, mostly. A geeky, fun item or two.) This is doable.
Remember, you are never going to follow a budget that is completely restrictive. Or at least you are not going to follow it for very long. Create a budget that has space for fun. My Other budget includes money for a meal or two out and maybe a movie or something. Luckily, I only have myself and my cat to worry about.
If you are a two person income household, add both incomes and round down before subtracting your expenses. Give your household a larger Other budget, for things like kids shoes, field trips at school, and emergency trips to the doctor for when your kid brings home the plague from school. You are more likely to have an emergency expense involving a child than anything else.
So that’s my budget plan for 2018. I’m going to try and keep to it all year and then reevaluate in the New Year. Hopefully, I’ll have no more credit card debt and will begin to start saving more and more money. (My big dream is to have enough to take a vacation to Europe for my 40th birthday.)
Fingers crossed! Happy New Year, everybody!