Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Rules Report: April

What I spent in April:
Rent: $625.00
Groceries: $171.47
Eating out (socializing): $38.00
Entertainment: $21.73
Healthcare: $90.00
Aesthetician: $62.00
Miscellaneous: $2.50, postage for my taxes
Taxes: $186.54 (net of federal and Illinois state taxes minus NY minus "economic stimulus payment")
Total: $1197.24


This month's developments:
- In spite of the fact that I wasn't sticking strictly to a budget this month, I spent less than I did in March. I think this is because I've internalized some of my budgetary guidelines (don't buy books, don't eat out for convenience) so well that they're becoming second nature.
- Spent twice as much on food
- Started getting my prescriptions by mail order, which saves me 33%.
- Virtually no miscellaneous or extraneous expenses.
- Paid taxes, which were actually less than I feared they would be. Doing taxes on my freelance income turned out to be not a big deal at all--I'm very glad I didn't shell out to get them professionally done. Next year I'll probably skip TurboTax, too--I don't have enough deductions to itemize, so the "expert" information in the package doesn't really benefit me.
- I acquired (free or through paperbackswap) several new books this month. Nonetheless, my crazy pile of "books I own but haven't read" is down to 10. I'm still limiting the number of books I check out from the library to minimize my information overload.

Small Slips:
- Paid $10 extra to get my feet waxed. She asked if I wanted them done, I said yes, thinking it was included in the price, and when she said it cost more I was too shy to take it back. Must stop this silly pattern.
- Last Friday while tipsy I bought a magazine. That would be okay except I still haven't read it and, now that I'm sober, really have no desire to.

May Plans:
I may have a couple of bigger expenses coming up--I want to go to a conference in June, and I want to take a vacation to the West Coast later this summer, so eventually I'll need to book a plane ticket and lodging.

I'm still convinced there must be some way to get my food budget down further without depriving myself. The amount I spent on groceries this month falls into the "low-cost" portion of the USDA Food Plans. The "thrifty" food plan for a woman my age is $145.80. I'm thrifty, darn it, and I want to be recognized as such! (I might dismiss this as an unrealistic government figure except that Amy D., my frugal cooking guru, spends about 30% of the "thrifty" plan for her family.)

My next plan for trying to reduce my food budget is to calculate the cost of several of my favorite meals and either lean towards using the cheaper recipes more often or find ways to make my favorite recipes cost less. For instance, one of my favorite meals includes artichokes, but it's almost as good made with much cheaper spinach instead.

May will mostly revolve around my company's annual conference in the middle of the month. I've been preparing for it for months and spending almost all of my work time on it for the last six weeks. After it's over, I'm going to take my first official paid vacation days since May of 2006!

Do you have any spending or budget goals for this month?

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