August was my very first month using my very new budget. While its nothing out of the ordinary I was excited to start using a real budget, unlike my previous budget, where all I had to track was “fun money” (which was used for pretty much everything). Now that I have a new budget I have a little bit more leeway in certain areas (like groceries), but not so in others….I also have to realize that if I use all my entertainment money for fast food at work, I won’t have any left to go out to restaurants or movies.

I thought I’d do a recap to see how I did with it my first month. It almost doesn’t count though, because for the first half of the month I didn’t do groceries, I didn’t pay utilities or internet, or renter’s insurance or anything. I’ll get a better idea at the end of September, but it’d be good to do a recap anyway, right? So here it is….

(Budgeted / Actual.)

Regular Expenses
Rent – $1,150 / 1,150
Phone – $50 / 49.62
Internet – $50 / 0
Student Loans – $167.25 / 167.25
Car Loan – $260 / 229.50
Dad – $300 / 300
Roth IRA – $400 / 250 (lowered my contribution. That $150 is going into savings)
Dance – $130.00 / 60.00 (skipped lots of classes this month. I’m using the difference to fund extra classes in the future.)

Irregular Expenses
Renters Insurance – $33.33 / 0 (haven’t gotten a policy yet!)
Car Insurance – $116.67 / 0 (paid 2x a year)
Car Registration – $6.93 / 0 (paid 1x a year)
Personal – $8.33 / 0 (reserved for haircuts, 2x per year?)

Variable Expenses
Utilities – $100 / 33.21 (electric only, 10 days and set up fees; savings the difference since the water company is asking for a $100 deposit. Crazy!)
Groceries – $200 / 189.82 (I snuck a lot of non-grocery stuff in there, like ATM fees and BBB purchases)
Gas – $200 / $125.46 (no clue why it’s that low, other than I no longer have to pay $5 in tolls each week!)
Household – $45.00 / 44.87 (snuck lots of moving in stuff here. Shouldn’t be too high from here on out.)
Clothing – $40.00 / 34.22 (again, snuck lots of moving stuff in here)
Entertainment – $100 / 92.13 (ate out for lunch waaaay too often. Now that I’m cooking I hope to change this.)
Set Savings – $38.29 / 38.29

The items in bold I obviously came in under budget for. I took the extra money from those categories and put it all into my savings! Yay for under-spending!

Additional Savings – $298.50

Granted, $150 was from my Roth, so I didn’t really accomplish all that much. However, next month I’m aiming to make that $300: $200 from Roth, and $100 from random stuff. Keep in mind this month I’ll have to do groceries for a full month, and pay utilities for a whole month, so it’ll be interesting seeing where those numbers come in. My biggest challenge (sadly) is not letting food go to waste. I’m particularly bad with lettuce.

Anyway, I’m excited to see what other games I can make of this. I’m sure a “fun” one will be “let’s see how low the electricity bill can come in!”, or when it gets cool enough to drive with the windows down again I always like to play “let’s see how long the gas will last”, or “let’s see how long I can stand this heat without turning on the air.” (Don’t judge, you know you’ve got equally nerdy games you play!)

Instead of ending this post with my typical “And that’s my budget”, or “there you have it”. Let’s end it on a fun note….answer this:

What games do you “play” to lower your bills?

(For my answer, see above.)