For a PF blog, I sure haven’t been talking much about my finances! A little embarrassing, but it’s no secret that I tend to veer more towards the “personal” than the “finance” part of PF. Anyway, the last time I recapped my spending was at the end of February, so I thought I was due for another.

I might as well confess that the reason I hadn’t recapped any spending was because….I hadn’t been tracking it. At all. Thank goodness for online banking. Even so, I’m not sure if there were cash purchases I lost track of (which is why I prefer to track withdrawals, as opposed to cash spending.) However a 90% inclusive recap is better than none. To keep things moving, I’m going to break down each category per month, followed by how far over or under budget I came in.

Category – February / March / April = total over or under budget

Utilities – $77.29* / 40.74 / 50.64 = $131.33 under budget (*water included as well as electric)

Groceries  – $216.69 / 274.72 / 159.11 = $50.52 over budget

Gas & Parking – $31.91 / 68.17 / $57.58 = $292.34 under budget

Household – $52.29 / 236.15 / 134.05 = $287.49 over budget (includes sewing machine in March, and new table/chair in April)

Clothing- $10.69 / 96.19 / 57.13 = $44.01 over budget (includes all sewing-related purchases, minus the machine)

Entertainment – $96.42 / 25.76 / 87.30 = $90.52 under budget

Dance – $206 (not technically budgeted for, includes a workshop, choreography course, plus 2 classes)

Not counting dance, I came in $132.17 under budget for those 3 months, which means once you add in dance classes I’ve spent just under $7,000 in the past 3 months. (Wow.) That includes rent, car payments, student loan payments, as well as internet and anything else normally included in my regular bills.

A few things surprised me once I looked at this summary:

1 -I’m totally over-budgeting for gas, but that’s ok. That’s more in line with what I’d be spending if I was working, and I’d rather have that number there to remind me for the future.

2- I’ve been out of control with my groceries. I mean, it’s good that I’m buying groceries instead of eating out, but thinking back, a bit of it has been “luxury” items that aren’t necessary (like an $8 block of cheese, and wine in general). I could benefit from smarter shopping and some control.

3 – I’m pleasantly surprised that I didn’t go over budget with “entertainment” (which includes eating out)! I’ve been eating way too much Taco Bell for my own good, and it also helped that the BF covered most of my eating out when we were together….but it’s progress from past months. In the future I need to make sure that I’m only eating out in the company of others, not for a quick meal fix for myself.

4 – The last thing I noticed was that I never really know how to allocate the spending for my hobbies. Sometimes I put receipts in under entertainment (like one dance class), another time I put them under household (sewing supplies), and then the rest of the time I put my sewing expenses under clothing. I think for now I’d rather keep to my inconsistent labeling, but it still bothers me. (I don’t want to make yet another category that will encourage me to spend more on hobbies.)

Also, seeing all my numbers laid out makes me realize a few things:

-While I’d love to reward my weight-loss, it feels almost like I already have with all the overspending I’m doing. Those new sneakers I wanted to buy? They’ll have to wait. That jewelry I bought to celebrate 5-lbs lost? So glad I returned it. (And not just because I gained 2 pounds the week after I got sick….)

-I didn’t come up with any exciting plans for my tax refund. At first I thought about doing something special with it, but in the end it’s obvious I just need some money in the bank until my situation has stabilized a bit. I AM going to splurge and perform with the dance studio this summer….which entails purchasing the costume. Its less than 20% of my refund, so that’s basically the “fun” part of my tax refund. (More on that later.)

From here on out I’m going to make the effort to continue to track my spending. (Actually, isn’t it a goal of mine this month? Yes, yes it is…) You’d think it would be second nature by now, but not quite…

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