Welcome to the first financial fitness check-in where I am using my own spreadsheet rather than Mint and a pen and paper. It’s kind of it’s first test run. The one thing I cannot figure out is how to combine what I’ve classed as my “Bills” chart and my “Expenses” chart into one pie chart to compare my Bills (which in economics would be my real expenses) and my expenses (which in economics would be my costs). I can make a bar chart with both totals, but not a pie chart yet. These spreadsheets have been a real exercise in Excel/Sheets skills and it’s been very interesting and educational.
Anyways, the reflection. I was astonished at how much I spent on Christmas this year, you may notice on the chart that I called it all Christmas. In coding my expenditures this month I classed Christmas related expenses in three groups: gifts, travel, and decorations. So this year I bought my first Christmas tree and two stockings. I also had one more flight to buy in December (I bought my flight home in November, but hadn’t then figured out if I was going to be flying back north from Toronto or Ottawa) and then had the four-hour drive from where I live to the airport and the gas etc. that comes along with a four-hour drive in Canadian winter (windshield washer fluid, oil just in case, etc.), my train from Ottawa to Toronto, and a deposit on my accommodations in Toronto. So I went about $550 over budget in my Christmas section.
The other area that I went over in was the Spending Money section. This section may need some refining, I currently am including any unplanned spending and alcohol and so far that is it. But I am wondering if I should be making a separate line item for alcohol or if it should go under social? I try not to drink alone but I do sometimes have a glass of wine alone so it’s not always social? I’m not sure.
The next largest section that I went overbudget on was Montana, my cat. I wanted to make sure that I left lot of supplies for the pet sitter since I was going to be gone for nearly three weeks. So I bought two cases of his wet food, some treats, and a huge bag of cat litter and it came to over $300 and I typically budget about $150 in case we have to go to the vet unexpectedly that month.
The next largest overbudget area was my car. I used a lot of gas this month which was interesting, I don’t normally drive a lot. I did go to Kenora to do some Christmas shopping (an almost three hour drive one way) and to Thunder Bay to fly home (a four hour drive one way) so that’s where it came from, but I was still surprised. I also did go through the car wash because my car was absolutely covered in salt from driving to and from Thunder Bay in November (they don’t usually salt the roads where I live because it gets too cold, but it was a mess). I’m also already overbudget on car for January because when I made my budget I remembered to include gas to drive home from Thunder Bay but forgot to include airport parking. And I think I need an oil change.
My next biggest expense area was groceries, however I actually came in about $60 under budget, so I’m pretty pleased with myself.
The final area that I was overbudget in was spending money, most of that was spent on alcohol. I bought myself a fancy bottle of champagne to celebrate my promotion, and then bought a few things while I was home, including a jewelry organizer that I have looked at both of my previous trips home and that shop is now under new ownership and is completely changing (which is good, it was stale, it always had the same stuff). I also bought two calendars for the new year, one for home and one for the office.
Overall, I went overbudget, very significantly, but my income was also significantly larger than expected due to all my work trips; between overtime and expenses so I ended the month overall in a net positive. Which was nice, however, the very next day was rent and student loan and all of that, so the net positive decreased significantly within 24 hours of ending the month (which I knew and was expecting, but it was still a thing that happened and caused feelings).
So far, I also really think that the spreadsheet will really help, it makes me much more active in the tracking of my expenditures. I definitely spent a lot more than I planned in Toronto at the beginning of the month but I’m very happy with everything I did, ate, and bought while I was there. I’m so happy with my trip and it was worth every penny.
Here’s to really going for goals in 2023.