I'm an accounting major.
I like numbers. And budgets.
My husband doesn't understand it, but I just can't help making a budget. (Sticking to it is another matter entirely.) Since we've been married I've been tracking our expenses. We don't have a budget, per se, but I've tracked every single penny we've spent and earned for the last five months. And you know what, it's a huge eye-opener! I can't believe how much we spend on some things.
With that in mind, and the knowledge we'll soon be jobless and paying rent, I decided to look at my expense tracker and create a "real" budget. Or at least find some areas we can trim down. With some simple changes we can save almost $600 a month!
I cut our grocery amount by $40, because hey, we're only two people and our cupboards are already very well-stocked. (If you ask Darren he'd say I have a sale-price obsession when it comes to food.)
I cut our eating out expenses by $49--they averaged $89 a month! I didn't know we ate out that much, but the numbers--they don't lie!
We spend a lot of money on gas station food/other random food/etc. so I eliminated that entirely, averages $24 per month.
We average $81 a month on "home supplies" (kleenex, TP, paper towels, ziploc baggies, and God only knows what else) and I cut that by $11.
We spent about $19 a month on video rentals/purchases and I cut that back $4 to $15, which is about the price of a new movie, or three older ones on sale.
We spend a whopping $285 a month on gifts. Believe me, I didn't know I had that many friends. But between baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, birthdays, Mother's/Father's day...there's a lot of gift-giving. We have slowly started to be better about it by limiting what we spend on people, but I cut out $185 of it and dropped our budget to only $100, excluding Christmas gifts. So we'll have to be more choosy. And no more buying Hallmark! If you get a very lovely handmade birthday card from me in the mail...well, now you know why.
I cut our toiletries cost by $20. I don't feel like I buy that much shampoo, but clearly I was wrong.
Darren and I make decent money and have actually relatively few fixed expenses, so we tend to spend a lot of money on ourselves. About $513 per month, in fact. It's all under the appropriate heading of "Fun" on my expense tracker. I didn't know fun was so expensive. I chopped off a nice chunk of change from that category--$263 to be exact--bringing our limit of "fun" to $250 per month. (I should mention that "fun" includes money spent on guns/ammo, fishing supplies, pictures/scrapbooking, books, and fun kitchen gadgets, among other things. We don't just blow it on bowling and concerts.)
The grand total comes out to be almost $600 ($596 to be exact). I think these surprisingly simple changes will really help us save some money these next couple months. And really help us deplete our savings less quickly while we're jobless students in the fall. We only put into savings about 17% of our income and I would like to see that number reach 25%, which will more than happen if we make these easy changes.
I was reading an article on MSN today about savings in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. (Yes, I admit, that's what brought on the mad budget makeover.) The advice in the article was to "live like broke college students for as long as you can." Wise, I must say. We definitely spend more money just because we have more money. Sometimes it's hard to get into the mindset to save, save, save. I'm making it a priority for next month. I'll let you know how it goes at the end of July.