Finance Friday: Why I’m NOT Tracking My Spending This Month

Finance Friday

Do you ever just get totally burnt out?  That’s how I’ve been feeling lately when it comes to work, social engagements, cooking, pretty much everything.  I’m especially feeling it when it comes to my finances though!

With buying a house, getting a puppy (kaching $$$) and having a roommate move in, I feel like I’m spending a ridiculous amount of time and energy analyzing my budget.  Simply put, I’m not perfect and so I overanalyze and come out feeling worse than before – definitely not where I want to be when it comes to my money.

Y’all know I’m kind of crazy about making sure I know where EVERY SINGLE CENT goes, but this month I want to take a break from it to get a bit of a refresh!

That being said, I’m not going to throw my entire strategy and plan out the window, so I’m actually going to use the month as a financial and mental reset.  I’m doing another cleanse (check out the one I did in January, February and March here, here and here) with pretty much the same rules as before, but I’m also going to cut back on social engagements.  I know this will help with the financial burnout, but I’m hoping it helps with the social burnout as well.

Anyone else feeling like they need to change up their goals/strategies this month?

Finance Friday: Changing Gears

Finance FridayIn 2013, 2014 and 2015 I managed to max out my Roth IRA (capped at $5,500 per year).  I did this while also paying down my student loans and contributing 6% or more to my 401k plan through work.  I was all gung ho to do the same this year, but my mindset has changed a little.

Since I bought a house, money is a little bit tighter than it used to be.  My bills went up, so my savings ability (including debt repayment here) has gone down.  That being said I had still fully intended to designate that money using this plan:

  1. Contribute 6% to my 401k to get the maximum company match  and make minimum student loan payments – $266.93/month.
  2. Build a $5,000 auto fund to use as a down payment on a car if necessary (hoping not!).
  3. Max out my Roth IRA for 2016.
  4. Throw any additional money at my student loan.

I’m starting to rethink this though.  If I were to throw every single bit of cash I have at my student loan, I think I could get it paid off in a year.  This is factoring in all of my rental income going straight to my loan.  This would definitely mean I can’t max out my IRA for 2016, but puts me in a good position to do that in 2017, all while being all but mortgage debt free.

Mentally I’m having a hard time adjusting to the idea that I would just skip a year.  I know that in the long run so many different things contribute to what actually makes the BEST financial sense, but sometimes you have to go with the emotional.  In this case, I’m feeling like it may be nice to lessen my load with no debt payment and feel that weight lifted ASAP.

Finance Friday: the Dela Darling Monthly Budget

Finance Friday

For those who are close to me, they know that I pay for everything humanly possible with my credit card.  A lot of my friends pay using cash, which is fine, or debit cards.  I prefer my credit cards because:

  1. I don’t like carrying much cash.
  2. I find it’s more difficult for me to know where the money goes when it’s in cash.
  3. Credit is “safer” than debit.  See why here.

Of course, I pay my cards in full every month and like knowing exactly where my money is going as it goes out of my account.  What I mean is that I actually treat my credit cards like debit when I think about how I spend using them.  (I keep a checking account buffer since I’m paid every two weeks and my pay schedule can be wonky compared to my bill due dates.)

At the end of the previous month, I work out my budget for the next month.  Sometimes I’m focused on taking into account the big vet bill from the month before, or my car insurance payment that’s only paid twice per year.  I try to look ahead at everything I have scheduled and work out what is the best financial plan for the month.  I input all of these numbers and categories into my budget spreadsheet.

Every three days or so, I open up my budget spreadsheet for the month and input any transactions since the last time I checked.  You can see what the “flow” sheet in my workbook looks like for July 10th.  (I know we’re not here yet, but I wanted you to see how I project on my expenses and also how they look once they’ve passed.)

FLOW SHEET

It took me a lot of budget templates and editing and customizing before I created one that really worked for me.  I actually think it’s really easy to use!  Some months I’m more detailed than others, but I think that’s one of the things that makes this workbook so perfect for month to month use!  I like that I can set my categories, change them month to month and reallocate as I see fit whenever I want.  I find that I’m able to really designate everything the way I want, which I haven’t found to be easy on budgeting apps.  (I also think having to manually enter EVERY SINGLE transaction all month long keeps you accountable.  Before I swipe I have to ask myself if I really want to open the spreadsheet and enter something…)

For all of you awesome readers, I’m including a link to download this example budget!  For those who wish they were using Excel to do this, but aren’t wizards with formulas, referencing, etc. it’s completely done for you!

My instructions are pretty simple, but here you go:

Budget Sheet

  • In cells A6-19 input any categories you want to use.
  • In the corresponding B6-19 cells, enter which large-scale category these fall into: essentials, extras or goals.  (You don’t need to do this, but I find it helps me keep myself in check that I’m adequately pursuing my goals and if I might be spending too much!)
  • You’re done!  Everything tallies up for you from here.  Now you’ll just check in on this sheet to see how you’re doing through and at the end of the month.

Flows Sheet

  • You’ll want to delete all of my example information, and then start filling in with your own data.
  • The really cool thing about this sheet is that the category column actually creates a drop-down menu when you want to enter something.  Note that it will show all of the categories you entered on the Budget Sheet!
  • You can also sort this table using the Row 1 for any column.  I typically enter everything new at the bottom, then sort by date.  Sometimes I see that my spending in one category is out of control, so I’ll sort by category to quickly see what’s adding up.

 Click here for all posts in my Finance Friday series.