Okay, I know you see RED in the total leftover box, but I feel great about this month’s budget. I had so much going on in February that I’m actually surprised I only with over by $129 without using my credit card. February was a good month…income-wise. I received my bonus check and over $175 in per diem for food from work due to our snow days.
I want to start with the good part of my budget. I didn’t go in the Food category for the first time EVERRRR. I am soooo proud of myself for getting this under control. I went grocery shopping once a week and packed my breakfast for work. I only ate fast food (Chick-Fli-A) once this month and that’s because I was stuck at work due to the snow. I received my money back for that food with my per diem. Although I went to several restaurants, I only went over by about $5. That’s partly thanks to my friend Heather who came into town and took me out to eat several times. I stayed on budget for restaurants until the last day of the month. I had to go to a last minute dinner with a friend who was in town (which was essential!).
I paid off my USAA credit card and got my AMEX debt under $1,000 this month. Woop woop! I plan to have my AMEX card paid off in April. I will be receiving my tax return this month which will be a pretty penny so I will put a lot toward that. I also saved $100 in my emergency fund and in my travel fund.
There was still a lot of RED in my February budget. My electric bill was something serious. Let’s just say it was a very cold month which featured two snow storms and freezing temperatures. It won’t be that high again. I will do better. Down in the life category, that’s where I did most of my damage. I had to add Valentine’s Day and my Taxes, which weren’t on my original budget. As you can see, I went over by $40 for V-Day. My boyfriend and I went to couple’s yoga for $28 and to Ted’s Montana Grill for dinner. It was soooo lovely. I didn’t mind going over due to the memorable experience. The same goes for my boyfriend’s “Po’ up for 30″ beer bash. It was such a great time. Anything for my boo Lastly, the Misc. may need to be revised if I go over in March. I went over $50 the past two months.
Goals for this month
- Stick to my budget FAIL I did good, but I still went over on my budget. Better luck in March
- Attend at least 2 yoga classes a week PASS
- Read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou FAIL This might not ever happen…
- Organize pictures on hard drive. PASS
- Throw a great, memorable 30th birthday for my boyfriend PASS Such a GREAT party! I overachieved on this goal. Loved seeing my boyfriend and friends having a good time
Beer Tasting Party
My boyfriend and I were suppose to celebrate his 30th birthday in New Orleans, but he could not get the days off from work. I then had to come up with another idea for his birthday extravaganza. I thought long and hard and even stressed myself out. But all I had to ask myself is “What does my boyfriend love beside myself?” And the answer was BEER and BBQ!!!! My boyfriend is quite the “beer connoisseur” so I came up with the idea of a beer tasting party. I went straight to Pinterest to straight pinning ideas for the party. I budgeted myself $350 for his party and I took the money from our travel fund.
I first started with the invitations. After a lot of research on Pinterest and blogs, I found a beer coaster design at Product80 on Etsy. He customized the invites to my liking, and they came out perfect. On the invite, I asked our guests to bring their favorite, obscure 6-pack beer for the beer tasting. I spent a total $29.25 on a set of 25 invites. I also found a party styling kit on Etsy at DownEmeryLane. It came with a “Hoppy 30th Birthday” banner, beer tasting scoring cards and 3 beer signs for my buckets. It was a great touch for the party. The kit was $42.00
A week before the party, I ordered the catering from Community Q BBQ in Decatur, GA. I ordered 5lbs of beef briskets, 5lbs of chicken quarters and a pan of mac & cheese. This totaled out to be $130.50. I thought this was a great price for BBQ. I then placed an order for the cake from Southern Sweets, also in Decatur. I got my boyfriend’s favorite cake, chocolate on chocolate. The cake was $40.13.
My boyfriend and I went shopping for the beer together. We first went to Kroger’s to see if there was any beer on sale. The 12-packs Terrapin and Pale Ale were on sale. We then went to the Farmers Market to get 12-packs of Woodchuck Raspberry, Angry Orchard Crisp Apple and Dogfish IPA. Lastly, we went to a beer store in Decatur called Ale Yeah. My boyfriend discovered a new beer called Denver Pale Ale and also picked up some Stone IPA. The beer totaled out to be $124. I went over $24. We also picked up 20 pint-sized glasses at the Dollar Tree.
The day of the party I bought 3 ice buckets from Bed, Bath and Beyond with a giftcard. I picked up the food, the cake, ice and my photos for my clothesline collage. To set up the party, my friends Lynette and Valerie came over to assist me with the decorations. I moved the furniture to make my living room more open for the beer tasting. I put flowers in beer bottles to act as vases on the tables. I also put different snacks in empty beer cartons to add to the beer tasting theme. I put the beer scoring cards in the glasses along with a pencil to hand out to the guests when they came. We hung up the birthday banner and made the clotheslines of photos on my bedroom door.
In addition to the BBQ, I made corn-on-the-cob and baked chocolate chip cookies from scratch. My boyfriend made the baked beans and they were a hit!
Invitations + Stamps: $36.25
Extra (beer glasses, birthday card, photos, ice, ice buckets, snacks, etc): $59.75
Total: $432.83 (over budget by $82.83)
– Party Styling Kits (Banner, score cards & beer signs): DownEmeryLane
– Invitations: Product80
– BBQ catering: Community Q BBQ
– Cake: Southern Sweets
– Beer: Ale Yeah, Kroger & Dekalb Farmers Marker
– Assistants: Lynette and Valerie
Last Sunday, I completed my first financial fast. The rules were: no shopping, no fast food, no dates with my boyfriend and no credit card/gift cards use. The fast was a practice in self-sufficiency and spending what you earn. It was truly an eye-opening experience. I ended the 21 Day Financial Fast with a new insight on money, budgeting, and why it is so important to save, invest, and plan for the future.
Here are the things I learned from the fast:
- I learned I needed to let go of my fear of not having enough money. I make plenty of money to cover my bills, groceries and to save for my retirement and emergency fund. I saved $241.75 on my financial fast. I spent $2,985 in January and the average of my spending from September-December was $3,225.
- I learned with careful planning and discipline, not only did I live a better life financially, my life was better emotionally, spiritually and mentally. I was more organized, I woke up early and I achieved my goals I set out for myself daily.
- I learned that my financial weakness is fast food. I learned how to survive without it on this fast. I planned out my meals weekly, bought food at the grocery store, cooked and packed a breakfast for work. I said no to my co-workers for coffee/breakfast runs. A week after my fast, I still have not been to a fast food restaurant.
- I learned to live without my credit card. It was nice not to depend on it for 21-days. Instead I paid $700 towards my AMEX card and paid off my other card. The past four months I ran up a $2000 credit card bill. After reviewing my credit card statements, I was very ashamed. A lot the purchases were from fast food restaurants, eating out and shopping. These purchases were very unnecessary and not well thought out. The other purchases were from plane tickets and vacation. I could have purchased these with my back account if I would have planned out my trips better.
- I learned to appreciate the things that I already had. I wore the clothes in my closet instead of shopping for more. I finally used my OnDemand from Comcast to watch movies/tv series instead of going to or renting movies. I went to free yoga classes and read books instead of going out. I no longer felt entitled for more things that I didn’t need just because I thought I deserved them.
- I learned the Dollar Tree is amazing! There is anything and everything at the dollar store, but discipline is key…don’t buy everything you see.
- I learned to stick to my budget. I already had a budget made, but I never stuck to it. It was just a background picture that I never paid attention to. Now, my budget and I are like best friends. I never leave home without it. Every dollar now has a purpose!
- I learned to give to others. I use to be very stingy with my money (from the fear of not having enough), but giving to others and charities makes me feel better about life. Helping others is exactly what Jesus would do and what he would want me to do.
- I learned to focus on saving money instead of spending money! This fast has recharged me to focus on my goals of getting out of debt and saving money into my emergency fund.
- I learned that I am BLESSED! People would love to be in the position that I am in. I have a good job where I get paid every two weeks, a roof over my head, clothes in my closet, a car in my parking spot and food in my fridge. I’m surrounded by love from my family, boyfriend and friends. I owe it all to God!
I will continue to follow the principles of this financial fast and stay focused toward financial freedom.
I made it through the fast and I’m still standing! I’m so proud of myself for sticking with this fast. I will be writing a post tomorrow about all the things I learned from this fast. In the meantime, here is a recap of the last four days of my fast.
Thursday, January 30: Day 18
PAYDAY! Whenever I get paid, I always pay my bills first and it was so nice to see that I had a nice amount of money left over in my bank account. This never happens. I usually just pray through the next two weeks and/or turn to my credit card.
With the first paycheck of the month, I pay half my mortgage, my home association fee, my electric bill, auto insurance and usually my cell phone bill (paid with last paycheck). The first of the month bills always drain me. I also bought a full tank of gas which cost me $33.55.
Thursday’s chapter was about the bonds that have keep you from accepting abundance in your life. Some things that keep me from abundance are my fear of being broke and of course, shopping and fast food.
Friday, January 31: Day 19
My job provided us with a free breakfast and lunch. YAY!!! It was to honor us for enduring the snow storm, risking our lives and coming into work. It was nice to feast on french toast and bacon without spending any money. Those were two meals I didn’t have to worry about for the day. For dinner, I ate some left over tacos.
Also, on Friday, I paid off my USAA credit card. I had $91.35 on that card. So, now, I no longer need to worry about that credit card. I only have to focus on my AMEX card. I then took out $140 from the ATM. I want to try this cash only thing. $100 is for groceries, $8 for my friend’s cake, $9 for my eyebrows (which look like a bush).
Saturday, February 1: Day 20
Saturday was hard. I dreamt of eating Chickfila and BBQ from my favorite restaurant. I woke up sweating. With two days left, I could definitely feel the finish line. I didn’t even leave the house this day. I ate whatever was in the house and made baked chicken and potatoes for dinner.
Saturday’s chapter was about relationships and spending time with your loved ones. It was about re-connecting with the family members and friends you lost touch with. Michelle suggests instead of buying them gifts, spend time with them.
Sunday, February 2: Day 21
SUPER BOWL SUNDAY! And the last day of my fast. Both are bittersweet. It’s the best game of the season, but the last game of the season, which always makes me sad. And this being the last day of my fast, I am so proud of myself for having the discipline to stick with it. I will take this discipline and what I have learned from this fast into my journey of financial freedom. I am so happy I did this fast. It was a real eye opener for me.
I celebrated my fast today at my co-worker/friend’s Super Bowl party (see picture above). I brought a bottle of wine from my refrigerator. No store-run for me.
The last chapter asked for me to calculate how much I have saved from not spending. I will report my findings in the next blog. It also asked me to encourage others to go on a spending fast, which I have already did. Two of my friends plan on going on the fast
Happy Black History Month!!! Only one more day until my fast is over and thank goodness because I have so much going on in February. Super Bowl tomorrow. A going away party and my friend’s 30th birthday party next weekend. My childhood best friend is coming to town the weekend after that. AND then my BF’s 30th Birthday party the last weekend of the month. All this means money, money, money!
I think and I hope my budget accounts for all these activities for the month. I set a budget of $350 for my BF’s birthday party, which I will take from our travel fund. Again, I set aside $100 in the miscellaneous category for when my friend and her family comes into town. I plan on helping buy a cake for my friend’s birthday and bringing wine to the Super Bowl and the going away parties. I will also be paying off my USAA credit card this month. Everything else is pretty much the same.
If you want to do your own template, I found this template at another blog called Blonde on Budget. I love it! You can customize the template to your liking. Add categories, delete categories, move things around… make it work for you!
Goals for this month
- Stick to my budget
- Attend at least 2 yoga classes a week
- Read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Organize pictures on hard drive.
- Throw a great, memorable 30th birthday for my boyfriend
Very similar to last months goals…
From the looks of it, it looks like I did pretty bad with my budget this month, but I actually think I did well. I put an extra $200 dollars (combined with the $500 in budget) to my AMEX card this month taking it down from $1,881 to $1,181. Decreasing my debt is always a good thing. Having an extra paycheck this month helped me put extra money towards my credit card. *pads self on back*
So, I really just went over $136 on my budget. That’s still a lot of money, but it didn’t put me in debt. I went way over in the Food and Miscellaneous categories. I went over $74 in the food category and $54 for miscellaneous things. If it weren’t for my financial fast, the food category would have been worse. I learned from my fast that fast food is the weakness in my budget. In the first 15 days this month, I have spent $89.23 on fast food and eating out at restaurants. In the month of December, I spent $204.42 on fast food and eating out. With the fast, I stayed within my limits with buying groceries by planning out my meals and bringing my breakfast to work. With miscellaneous, I went over these reasons: bought my BF’s invitation, gave my cousin money, and shopped at WalMart.
I changed my budget along the way. I added $50 to the groceries and $40 to the gas categories. I didn’t realized their was an extra week in the month so that’s why it needed to be adjusted.
In the end, I paid 23.4% of my budget towards my credit card, spent 35.6% on housing, 10.8% on food, 6.7% on transportation and another 6.7% went to my savings.
Goals for this month:
- Attend at least three yoga classes every week – FAIL I went to a least two classes a week, which is good
- Read two books — The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom by Michelle Singletary AND I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou – PASS (kinda) I read the financial fast book and instead of the Maya Angelou book, I started reading the Bible.
- Plan my boyfriend’s 30th birthday party – PASS We are having a beer tasting party. I’m excited.
- Clean out and organize my work and personal email inboxes – PASS/FAIL I organized my personal email, but my work email still has 15,000 unread emails.
Overall, it was a pretty good month. February will be better
While I am snowed in at home, I might as well write a blog about my financial fast.
Saturday, January 25: Day 13
Saturday was my parent’s 28th wedding anniversary. I am so proud of them and their everlasting love! I want to be just like them. Funny story: my dad called me wondering if I sent him a card for his anniversary. I told him I was on a financial fast and could not buy him a card nor a stamp to send it. He goes, “Send me that book. I’m going to go on a financial fast in December.” Hilarious!
I went to work at the yoga studio in the morning and then spent the rest of my day watching Comcast On Demand. I made myself a sandwich for lunch and ate pulled pork for dinner. I spent no money on Saturday,
I caught up with my reading which focused on debt and credit card. These two things have caused me a lot of problems throughout my twenties and is the reason I am doing this financial fast. I spend like crazy on my credit card and have no way to pay it off. I buy plane tickets and gifts with no plans of paying it off. Last year, I had limited myself to $500 on my credit card then I got an AMEX card because it offered me $500 in plane tickets by spending $500 on the card and 0% interest until November 2014. 5 months later, I’m in $2000 worth of credit card debt. SMH! My main focus during this first part of 2014 is paying off this debt and staying out of it.
Sunday, January 26: Day 14
I started my morning with Hot Yoga with Malia. Yoga was so lovely. I then went to the Dollar tree to buy cleaning spray for a dollar. I never shop at the Dollar Store, but this fast has made me realize they have just about anything at the dollar store. My friend posted an article on her Facebook page today: Definitely buy these 15 things at a dollar store. I guess I will be shopping there more often. After that, I went to buy two Pepsi’s for family dinner. I spent $4.16 in total. I then went home to clean my house and do the laundry. I ended my night eating family dinner at my aunt’s place and watching the Grammys.
The chapter for today was about Co-signing. I already knew that co-signing was one of the stupidest things you could ever do. The only way I’m co-signing with anybody is if it’s my husband. Nobody else!
Monday, January 27: Day 15
Let me tell you…this day was my most difficult day of my fast. I almost didn’t survive…literally. I packed my breakfast which only consisted of a muffin! By the time I got home from lunch, I had a severe headache. I made myself a sandwich and took a nap. I was still feeling kinda bad, but I needed to go to the grocery store. I made my list of groceries and headed to the grocery store. I planned on only spending $60 and my boyfriend gave me $30, but I ended up spending $76 in total. When I got home, my headache was back and I could barely move. I had never felt so bad. I couldn’t even stand to put up the groceries. There would be no cooking tacos for me. I just laid down on my couch and rubbed my head. My boyfriend came home and lead me to my bed and I went to sleep at 7:30 at night. Lesson of the day: Wake up and cook myself breakfast! Or you will have to resort to buying from the vending machine or getting fast food.
Tuesday, January 28: Day 16
I woke up feeling much better. I packed a much better breakfast so I would not have a repeat of the day before. I may been have been prepared with my food…I was not prepared for the complete chaos of the snow/ice storm that was coming to Atlanta. I wrote a whole post about it so I won’t go into much details. I’m glad I made it home safely and I sat myself down on my couch. Work at Yoga was cancelled. My boyfriend took the train home. He is one of the few in Atlanta that is devoted to taking public transportation. He is so smart. I made tacos for dinner. We hunkered down for the night..
Wednesday, January 29: Day 17
SNOWED IN! I called out of work. There was no way I was going out in dem streets. I thank God we had plenty of food. Boyfriend made grits, Canadian bacon, biscuits and eggs for breakfast. I made sandwiches for lunch and then he made Chili for dinner. We chilled out and relaxed. It was much needed. No money was spent today and tomorrow is PAYDAY! It’s the first time in a long time I actually have $200 in banking account the day before payday. Thank you financial fast
I read day 16 and 17 today. Day 16 was about having a caregiver for your parents when they get older and Day 17 was about having peace with your finances. She assigned us to write down all the things we worry about when it comes to money then pray about it.
I worry about losing my job and not having enough money in my emergency fund to provide for myself during a tough time. I worry about not being successful and not being a proper caregiver for my future family. I worry about not being able to sell my condo when I want to start a family. <—I worry about this one ALLLLLLL the time. I am always checking the selling price for the condos in my area.
I need to Let Go and Let God! Amen!
WOW! It has been a crazy 24 hours in Atlanta and surrounding areas. There was a snow/ice storm here and the city was completely unprepared…as usual. I was one of the lucky ones. It only took me an hour and a half to get home during the storm yesterday and I have been on the couch under my blanket ever since. I knew some not-so-lucky people, but by the grace of God they made it home. It took my friend LB 23 hours to get home from I-285 South…yes, I said 23 HOURS!!! We could not reach her for over 12 hours because her phone died. We felt so hopeless. My uncle was stuck for 12 hours on I-75 North.
My co-worker/friend Elaine wrote this beautiful rant:
Children stranded at school overnight. People sleeping in their cars on the highway in below freezing temps after sitting in them for 9+ hours. Others ran out of gas, ditching their cars walking FOUR HOURS home, slipping on the ice along the way. CVS, Home Depot, Publix and Kroger becoming makeshift shelters. A pregnant woman giving birth in her car. All the while, the salt trucks, emergency responders and so on can’t get to where they need to go because of gridlock that is now approaching 24 hours. Schools not closed in advance, the majority of Atlanta metro employees not told to stay home so everyone ended up on the road at the same time, trying desperately to get home.
It was complete CHAOS. It teaches us a lesson in preparedness. I have learned when a storm is coming that I need a full tank of gas, blankets, extra clothes, food, water, first aid kit and a phone charger in my car.
Atlanta, we got to do better as a whole! Leadership needs to step it up. We, as people and community, need to be prepared ourselves in case the government drops the ball again. We can’t have the babies out here with no food…ever again. Thank God for the good Samaritans on the road helping those stranded on the road. You were greatly appreciated.
Yesterday and today were a complete embarrassment for our city. We will do better!
Great articles and video on the Atlanta snow storm:
I’m back! I decided to combine some days since I was basically writing the same thing everyday. If you have been following me for the past week, you know I’m on a 21-day financial fast. It’s a struggle! I fell off the horse one time this week, but I got back on the saddle and still going strong. Let’s see how I did this week….
Tuesday, January 21: Day 9
4:45am | Woke up late! I didn’t choose my clothes the night before. Ugh. What happen to my discipline? Packed my breakfast and I was out the door.
9:00am | I got a bright idea for my BF’s 30th birthday next month. A beer tasting party. The BF loved the idea. BUT this idea may have put the fast in jeopardy. I went straight to pinterest and started pinning “Beer Party” ideas.
2:00pm | Came home from work and warmed up some pulled pork and ate potato chips for lunch.
3:30pm | Worked at the yoga studio.
8:30pm | The BF made oh so delicious cheeseburgers for dinner. But there was no ketchup in the house. OH THE DEVASTATION THAT CAME ACROSS MY FACE! No ketchup, no eating my burger. I then realized I had packets in the car. The BF braved the cold and bought me back happiness. All was good in the land of Sydney
9:00pm | Read chapter in my financial fast book on Investment Diversification. It was about investing and specifically making sure your investments are diversified.
**No money spent!
Wednesday, January 22: Day 10
4:10am | Woke up early! YAY! My clothes were ready to go. I read a chapter in the financial fast book. Today’s chapter was about love and money. I found this chapter to be very interesting. Michelle advises couples to have ONLY joint accounts. There should be no separate or secret accounts. Your money is his money (and vice versa) in a marriage. I then packed my breakfast. It was a better morning.
1:30pm | I had to make a store run. BF wanted burgers again for lunch and I wasn’t going to get caught slipping without ketchup again. I walked out the store with ketchup, cheese dip and beer. $13 spent.
2:00pm | Burgers and Beer
Thursday, January 23: Day 11
4:45am | Woke up late again. It was so hard to get out of bed when it was 13 degrees outside.
9:00am | Found invitations for the BF’s “Po’ up for 30″ Beer bash party on Etsy. The BF approved the invites and then they were bought! Yep, broke the spending fast…for LOVE! ha. The damage was $29.25.2:00pm | Meeting
3:30pm | Worked at Yoga Studio. I didn’t pack a lunch and I was starving. Thank goodness I had a trail mix bar my co-worker gave me a few weeks ago to hold me down. It was so yummy. I need to make sure I ask her where she bought those bars. Then my wonderful BF made me a sandwich and brought it to me at work. Love that man’s support during my fast!
8:00pm | BF cooked salmon croquettes, grits and biscuits.
8:30pm | I read today’s chapter in the financial fast book. It was about teaching your kids about money. I didn’t really care for this chapter. I’ll read it again in about 10 years when I care.
Friday, January 24: Day 12
4:51am | Woke up even later! SMH. Next week I will do better
1:15pm | BF buys ChickFila in front of me. Sigh. I miss those waffle fries. I resisted the urge!
2:00pm | I get home and make myself a turkey sandwich and ate chips & cheese dip with it
8:00pm | We ate left over jerk chicken and rice from Monday. I also drank a beer to celebrate it being Friday! Woop woop. I forgot to read the chapter in my book. I will catch up this weekend.
**No money spent
…So, I cheated once this week. I felt bad about it, but I wanted to get the invites out in a timely fashion. I’m proud I resisted the urge to eat fast food for another week. It was actually easier this week since I have gotten use to it. Overall, this fast has been really good for me. It’s a real eye opener on how I spend my money and how I need to spend my money. 9 more days to go!