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Revising my monthly budget

Well, not tracking my finances for the last month has left me in a bit of a bind right now. I can’t believe how reckless my spending has been. I really need to remember that I’m making an entry-level salary, and until I get myself back up to the $50k+ that I’ve been so used to making, I need to chill out and stick to a budget.

I’d like to do a mid-month review of my proposed budget:

  • Projected monthly income (after taxes) from FT job: $2,200 – this is just about right. After tax, I’m making about $675 per week after taxes, so that should equal to $1,100 after tax for 2 weeks. I’ll know for sure on Friday.
  • Rent & all utilities: $700 – my rent and all utilities will come out to around $670. I could have found something a little cheaper (around $600-650, all utilities included), but I’m saving so much money by being close to work (I don’t even need a bus pass), I really like my landlord, and the house I’m living in is clean and looks new, and I feel safe in this particular neighbourhood. That’s really important to me, especially living in a big city like this for the first time.
  • Cell phone: $40 – my bill this month was $64 b/c of LD charges when I answer calls while in Vancouver. I plan on switching my number over to a local number sometime soon, and that should drop my cell phone bill down to around $35/month b/c I added a $6 text messaging plan so I can chat throughout the day with BF, my sister and a few of my friends. It’s cheaper than calling them LD, and it’s a frugal way to keep in touch.
  • Gas & public transportation: $50 – I definitely don’t need to budget this much money. I live so close to work that I anticipate spending less than $5/month (!!!) on gas (1 tank costs $5 and will last me about 160-180km of city driving), and maybe about $20/month on public transportation. Although I did take a $6 cab ride last week, but that was because I didn’t have my scooter over here yet. So I’m probably going to reduce this category down to about $25.
  • Groceries: $150 – this is a tough one. I eat so simply, but I feel bad because I don’t feel like I have anything that BF would want to eat whenever he comes over (which is often). And one time, he brought his own food over. I think this may improve once I get some time to do some mass cooking/freezing. I think I’ll keep this at $150 and just see how I do. I know I’m going to go over this amount for the month of February, because I had to re-stock on a bunch of the essentials that I needed, but I’m sure I can stick to this come March.
  • Entertainment: $100 – I haven’t exactly done anything exciting this month, but I’m confident I can stick to this budget. Looking at it, $100 seems like a lot of money, but when I think that a dinner out at a decent restaurant will probably cost $50 for two people, it doesn’t seem like it’ll go far at all. We’ll see.
  • Miscellaneous: $80 – This number still seems appropriate, but I think I’m going to add an additional $55 to bring it to $135. It gives me a little more flex in my budget, so that if I do want to do something fun, or if I decide I want to make a fancy meal at home with specific ingredients that I don’t normally buy (or even go out for dinner), I have the money in the budget. Plus, this category will house my clothing, personal care items and renter’s insurance.
  • Travel: $80 – I’ll have traveled 3 times to the island in February, when it’s all said and done. Last weekend we took BF’s car across on the ferry, which I wasn’t anticipating … so my cost was around $62 for that trip alone. Ouch! But bringing the car was necessary – I was able to bring back so much stuff that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to carry across on the ferry myself. The next few months I only anticipate going back home twice a month, and each trip should cost me between $24-40, depending on what my transportation method will be to get to and from the ferry terminals.

All in all, I’m pleased with my budget. I can still save around $1,000/month, and I still don’t feel like I’m depriving myself of anything. If anything, I feel a little more at ease after adding the $$ I’m saving on my original budget for rent/transportation, to the Miscellaneous category.

My money is all up-to-date now

Well, I updated the sidebars and my NetworthIQ. I’m not as bad off as I thought I was, but I know I’ve been spending a lot more than I should be spending. It’s such an expensive pain in the butt, this whole moving thing. I’m glad it’s over, so I can settle into some sort of financial routine.

After paying off my moving expenses on my credit card (and my new glasses), I was able to put $1,300 of my EI payout back into my EF (new total of $1,514.25), and then I just shoved $200 into my Condo Down Payment fund, just so it didn’t look so sad.

I initiated direct deposits into my Travel Fund of $50 bi-weekly. I want to be able to contribute more, but at this time, I’m not sure I can afford to … and I’m not exactly going to be taking vacation anytime soon, so I think I’m fine. The next trip I’m anticipating is a 2 or 3 night trip down to Seattle for Canada Day long weekend, but that’s not until July … and it’s so much cheaper now that I don’t have to take into consideration bus/ferry/bus costs just to get to the mainland.

Anyway, this Friday I will get my first full pay cheque from my new job, so I hope to be able to set up some sort of concrete budget I can stick to. Since I’ve moved here, my budget has been pretty loose. I am quite satisfied that I only spent $27 on groceries yesterday though. :)

Slowly but surely I’m getting back on the money bandwagon. It’s hard after essentially having nothing to do with personal finance for the past 3 months, but I think I’m well on my way again.

Apparently I can’t walk 3km anymore

I’m not gonna lie, the walk home from the grocery store this evening was hell. My bags were SUPER heavy, it was windy and rainy, and I was all hot and sweaty (even though it was freezing outside) and in a bad mood. So I called a cab. It only cost me $6 after tip, so I don’t feel too bad about it, but I was literally only 2 km from my house. I could have done it, but I really really wasn’t feeling it. I spent a lot on groceries. A LOT. $86.63 to be exact. I didn’t realize how much I needed to buy … so along with my usual weekly purchases, I also had to get things like a Brita filter, dish detergent, hand soap, extra virgin olive oil, etc … stuff I had back home, but didn’t bring with me to Vancouver.

The good news is that my place is looking organized and pretty darn nice, considering the limited amount of space I have. I just have to bolt up my coat/shoe rack, hang some pictures/artwork, and get a bed (BF said he would probably have it finished by early next week). Once everything is set up the way I want it to be, I’ll take pictures and post them here.

I’ve been ignoring Quicken for the past few weeks. I’m scared to see how little money I really have. I’m hoping that my EI payment comes in soon, so at least my bank account doesn’t look so pathetic. And my fingers are crossed that my last T-4 comes in this week so I can pick it up when I come this weekend.

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