Budget & Shopping Ban Update


Last month, I chose not to work much mid-month, so I could travel and spend time with a friend in need. As a result, I only invoiced for $4,773, which left me with no extra money to save for retirement or personal goals. I shouldn’t say “only” – I know that’s almost $5,000 of real money. But when I decided to become a full-time freelancer, I knew I wanted to try to earn at least $6,100/month (before taxes) so I could bring home the same amount of money I was earning before I quit; this month, I did just that.

August Budget

Before I get to the numbers, a few of you have asked me what I do as a freelancer, so I thought I would break down this month’s income by the different services I offer.

First and foremost, I write (and edit, which I forgot to put in the legend). Currently, I only have two clients I write/edit for, and they made up 21% + 24% of my income this month. Besides writing, I also do some blog and community management, which made up 10% of my income. I also have experience with some of the most widely-used learning management systems out there, and help put together online courses in them. A portion of my income comes from sales of the Mindful Budgeting Program. And then “other” includes any random one-off assignments I take on.

In total, I invoiced (and was fully paid up) for $6,226 – $2,180 (35%) of which was set aside for taxes. Here’s what I did with the leftover $4,046.

Life Expenses – $2,365 (58%)

Just a reminder that “life” expenses includes all my regular living expenses, like rent, food, gas and all my insurance policies, as well as donations and gifts for others. My expenses in some of these categories were higher than I expected – and it was my own fault for not budgeting properly. For example, I was in my best friends’ wedding last weekend and forgot to budget for my hair. Gift: yes. Hair: totally blanked. I don’t know how I forgot that… but my budget is glad wedding season is over. 😉

I also took advantage of one of my new shopping ban rules, which is to “buy” products/services my friends sell so I can support their businesses, and then donate the same amount of money to a charity of their choice. First, I bought Amanda’s book and made a donation to her friend’s charity. Then I bought a seat in Paul and Jason’s workshop and made a donation to the Victoria BC SPCA – a cause I already donate to monthly and which Paul loves too.

Travel – $681 (17%)

I didn’t travel at all this month, but I did book and pay for my flight to Charlotte, NC. I’m flying out on September 16th for my fourth FinCon! Will I see you there!? 🙂

Savings – $1,000 (25%)

And finally, the best thing that’s happened to my budget since I quit my job: I saved money! And for retirement, no less! I’m used to saving more than this, so I’m not entirely happy with the number, but it’s a huge step up from last month. Since I’m travelling a little bit in September and October, this number will likely be similar in those months… but that is now serving as motivation to take on more work, so I can save even more.

Shopping Ban Update

Now that we’ve looked at the numbers, it’s time to give you a shopping ban update. I’m just about to finish the 14th month of my 24-month shopping ban, and this one went on a lot smoother than the last. I didn’t feel the urge to shop much, and I finally started to read more of the books I already own. As I mentioned above, it was also nice to support two of my friends who are full-time freelancers, and I’m grateful the ban allows for that now.

Of course, the “real” reason I’m doing the shopping ban for a second year is to track every single item I do buy, so I can show you what an average (female) consumer might need in a year. Last month, I purchased 4 things, 2 of which were definitely female-specific. This month, I purchased 5 things. Again, 2 of them were female-specific, but all of them were toiletries and could potentially last me until the end of 2015. (The toothpaste will be an interesting experiment, as I truly have no idea how long a tube lasts.)

Items I purchased in August 2015:

  1. 1 box of razors (should last 3-4 months)
  2. 2 boxes of toothpaste (on sale for the same price as 1 box)
  3. 1 bag of epsom salts
  4. 1 DivaCup
  5. 1 mascara

All-in-all, it was a fairly good month – a little more “spendy” than I’d like, but that should change this fall. Now, the real challenge: I still haven’t gone through those last three boxes, and today is the last day of my final declutter! If you’ll excuse me, I have some work to do. 🙂

How did your month finish up!?