August 2014 Budget & Goals

Say hello to my new and improved monthly budget posts! These are going to look very different from the budget spreadsheets you’re used to seeing here, but I’m really excited about the change of “scenery”.

As I mentioned last week, one of the reasons I wanted to switch up the format of these posts was because I was starting to feel weary about having all my numbers out there for the world to see. There are, however, two bigger reasons my old posts weren’t working. First, I budgeted for less than what I made each month, so it wasn’t an accurate representation of my spending habits. Second, my budgets didn’t include any freelance income, or show what I did with that money + what was leftover from my regular income.

By switching to percentages, we’ll be able to see a crystal clear picture of where all my money is going – even if I’m not sharing the actual dollar amounts. For example, my housing expenses only add up to 33% of my take home pay, not the 37-41% I had to claim with my smaller budget – that’s a huge difference! How do the rest of my numbers add up? Let’s take a look.

Living Expenses – Budget: 58%

Right off the bat, I can tell you that this overarching category of my budget is what excites me the most. If we go back to that conversation I had with a friend in June, I asked her how much of her income she actually needed to live off of. Was saving 20% of her income good enough, or could she live off less and save more? I’m challenging myself to answer that same question regarding my own finances.

So, the first thing I did was take all the expenses in my budget template, other than savings and travel, and move them under one new category: Living Expenses. I decided to include absolutely everything (even spending money), because these are all the things that currently make up my regular daily life. I mentioned at the beginning of this shopping ban that I wasn’t going on a consumer fast, but I do want to try and live on a little bit less. So, this is what’s in my current budget. (–>)

As for actual numbers, I can tell you that everything looks pretty standard, with a few exceptions:

  1. I changed my “Entertainment” budget to just a “Netflix” budget (I used to also buy books under this category, but obviously can’t do that anymore)
  2. A number of budgets (Groceries, Gas, Parking) have smaller amounts because I’m travelling so much this month, and
  3. I boosted my Personal Care budget so I can look for a few things on my “Approved Shopping List” in Edmonton, where I’ll only have to pay 5% tax vs. 12% in BC.

Before I added up these numbers, my goal was to one day live off only 55% of my income (a stretch goal would be 50%, but my rent is currently too high for that). Apparently, I’m not that far off, as this month’s living expenses only require 58% of my take home pay. It’s crazy to see how different your financial picture can seem, if you just move things around and try to look at it from a different angle. If I wasn’t travelling so much this month, I could potentially save up to 42% of my income. That. Is. Crazy.

Savings – Budget: 23%

My savings goals are fairly basic this month. First, I’m going to continue to put $320 into both my Emergency Fund and Retirement accounts. After that, I need to tuck some money aside for trips I’m going on in September. As you’ll see below, one of my goals for this month is to do some extra freelance to help pay for those trips. I have not included any freelance income in this monthly budget, as I don’t know how much I’ll be able to make yet. The 23% quoted above is based only on my full-time regular income, so this number (and the others) may look a lot different by the end of the month.

Travel – Budget: 19%

Finally, this month I’m spending 1 week at home, then 1 week in Victoria, 1 week in Edmonton and 1 week in Toronto, so my travel budget is obviously a lot larger than usual. I’m excited to go to each city, but I’m most looking forward to our road trip to Edmonton. I can’t wait to see Cassie, Mikhaila and some friends from Royal Roads, as well as spend quality time with the fam and get Baby Bro all settled into school.

And that’s that! At the end of the month, I’ll quote the original percentages I budgeted for then give you the actual percentages. For example: Savings – Budget: 23% / Actual: 30% / Difference: +7%. Cool? I know this doesn’t show you guys exactly how much I’m spending on housing (which never changes), groceries, health care, personal items, etc. but my ultimate goal with this new format is to show that it’s possible to live off less, consume less and save way more. I’m excited to see how this first month finishes up!

Goals for this month:

  • Read 1 book
  • Workout 10x (less than usual, because I’m travelling so much)
  • Remove 15+ items from home
  • Road trip / move Baby Bro to Edmonton
  • Do some extra freelance to help pay for September trips

What do you have planned this month?