I Have No Idea How to Budget Right Now

Canadian coins

Ok, so you know one of the reasons why I was a little lost for words here last week… I was busy writing elsewhere! But there’s one other reason I’ve been suffering from writer’s block: simply put, I have no idea what my budgets will look like for the next few months, and it’s seriously stressing me out.

I don’t know if I’ve actually mentioned it here yet, but I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding in Victoria at the end of April. The bride is a girl I’ve been friends with since sixth grade (we met in 1997, to be exact), and I’m so excited to stand up for her. But there are still so many unknowns about these nuptials, which means my next three months’ worth of budgets will include some guestimates at best. I’m also planning a few other things (and assuming more will come up) that won’t be cheap. Take a look at why I’m having a hard time writing budgets for the next three months:

February

Next month, I’m going home to Victoria for 9 days. We’re throwing a bridal shower on the 22nd, for which I’ll need to bring a gift plus some of the food/drinks/decorations. After that, I’ll spend a week visiting with family and friends, which will obviously include a few coffee/dinner dates. And then I’m heading up to Mt. Washington for the last weekend of the month. I don’t plan on snowboarding this year, because I can’t even imagine how much a fall would hurt my back/hips right now, but I’ll still need to pay for food and gas (accommodation is already covered). Oh! And I also booked an appointment with my family dentist, so I can get my teeth cleaned. (I’m sure he’ll also request a few x-rays, which I may actually decline, depending on how much they cost.) So, there’s expensive month #1.

March

In March, I’ll go home for at least one weekend, if not two. We’re planning for the bachelorette party to be in town, so I don’t think it’ll be crazy expensive, but that’s still something to budget for. And the bridesmaid dresses are also coming in that month, so I may need to go back for a fitting. If you can believe it, March’s budget is actually stressing me out more than February’s. Why? Because I have absolutely no idea how much this dress is going to cost. It was ordered months ago, when I was still in Toronto. I think the dress is $180, but I have no idea how much alterations will cost. I could get lucky and not need any, but what are the chances of that, right? Then I could get extra lucky and our dresses could arrive before I come to town for the bachelorette party. It would be great if I only had to go back home once…

April

So long as the dress fits, I’ll only go home to Victoria once in April – towards the end of the month, for the actual wedding. That month, however, I’ll need to pay for shoes, hair and makeup, as well as a wedding gift. Again, I have no idea how much hair or makeup will be yet, so I don’t know what my final wedding budget will look like. With travel, I imagine it’ll be $400+ that month alone. (Being a bridesmaid ain’t cheap!) After the wedding, I’ll pop over to see my hairdresser for a cheap $30 cut. And that might be it for major expenses that month. Oh, but I’m guessing I’ll also be making a trip out to Toronto for work sometime between now and the end of April. My flight and accommodation are always covered for work trips, but parking, food, etc. can add up fast. So, again, I just don’t know what that month’s budget will look like yet.

None of this is supposed to sound like I’m complaining. I am genuinely looking forward to everything the next few months will hold for my friends and I! I’m just such a planner that it’s hard to see so many “what ifs” in my monthly budgets…

So, where does this leave me? The simple fact is I won’t be able to achieve my financial goals in February, March or April. There’s just no way I’ll be able to save $1,000+ each month, with all of these events and trips. I guess the only question I have to answer now is: how am I going to move the numbers around?

My current monthly savings goals are to put $642 in my Emergency Fund and $417 in my RRSP. So far, I’m on track to achieve these goals this month. For the next few months, however, let’s say I can only save $500-600/month. What should I do with that? My first thought is to still put $417 in my RRSP, and whatever’s leftover in my Emergency Fund. But I could also divide it evenly between the two accounts.

The final “what if” in all of this is how much my tax return will be this year. I have everything ready, with the exception of my T4, so I’ll be able to file in February and should get the cash in March. My original plan was to put 100% of it in my Emergency Fund. So, maybe I’ll maintain my RRSP savings goal for the next few months, but put only a very small amount in my Emergency Fund, and then boost it up with my tax return?

Maybe, maybe, maybe. What if, what if, what if. Ahhhhh, I hate those words!

What would you do, if you were me?

Flickr: coffeego