April Financial Fitness Check-In

April was a weird month, because I both had significantly more income than I was expecting, but I also spent way more than I was expecting, partly as a result of that and I still have some outstanding reimbursements as some of the things I bought were for other things.

In my bills category I have it down to a very good science. I was about $30 under budget this month in total and I’m expecting that my hydro bill will be dropping steadily as the weather warms and I get to turn off my baseboard heaters. In the summers I typically average about $75 for electric over the summer (compared with between $200 and $300 in the depths of winter).

I also have a couple changes coming in April, besides my steadily decreasing electric bill. I have cancelled my New York Times subscription. I found I was never actually reading any of the articles that I was getting in email newsletters, I don’t play any of the games anymore, I also have really started to notice some of their bias/want to consume less American news. That country is too stressful. I also got notice that my car insurance is decreasing. Just a tiny bit, but still, it counts.

Now for my expenses, this area is rough. I’ve decided to get really transparent, I think I need the accountability.

I budgeted $500 on groceries. I spent $851.33. Which is absurd (but less absurd than when I had accidentally double counted a couple transactions). Some areas I think I went wrong were, a couple weeks where I didn’t meal plan and ended up going multiple days some weeks. I also impulse bought a whole bunch of frozen fruit that was on sale. It will make sense in the summer when I get back on my smoothie game, but at the time didn’t really. This month I am really prioritizing meal planning, meal prepping (I think this will also help reduce my eating out budget), and absolutely refusing to enter the grocery store more than once a week.

Eating out is an interesting area. I budgeted $50 and spent about $130. Which on the face of it seems like a total flop, but a lot of that was reimbursed as it was due to work travel. Where I work we have per diems, rather than submitting receipts, so I don’t know exactly how much of what I spent on eating out was reimbursed vs. what wasn’t since I think I spent less than the per diems. The other thing is that I always put my work related reimbursements, provided it’s not for something I put on my credit card, into my savings account. So, I get reimbursed, but I don’t necessarily put the money back into the account it came out of. That got a lot more complicated than I meant it to. My biggest expense was that I ordered Pizza Hut to my hotel room in a snowstorm while on the work trip and I do not regret it one single bit. I got like four meals out of it too.

My next three lines I was way under budget, coffee I had budgeted $75 and I spent $59. Alcohol I budgeted $40 and spent $25.65, “spending money” I budgeted $200 and spent $120. In my social category I was right on target. I budgeted $40 and spent $44.25, and the $4.25 was ATM fees because my bank doesn’t have a branch here, so I consider that a win.

My next categories were back to not great again. I had $40 budgeted for household supplies and spent $135, I ran out of a lot of cleaning supplies and bought new command strips. Man, I really love those things but they are expensive. Clothing I didn’t budget for as I hadn’t really planned on buying anything (despite including a pair of sneakers in my “What I’m Buying in April” post) and I really wanted the sneakers for my spring wardrobe, so I technically went $118 over-budget there.

Next is personal care and grooming. This seems to really be my problem area. I budgeted $100 and spent $420. I spent $131 on hand cream, body lotion, shampoo, and laundry detergent, $247 at the Sephora sale, and $43.76 subscribing to my low-waste shampoo bars and laundry detergent strips so that I don’t have to buy plastic packaged items.

Gas I was right on target, I budgeted $100 and spent $100. Bank Fees I budgeted $200 and was charged $200.74 (and figured out one of the charges and will not get charged it again). For my cat I always budget $100 just in case we need to go to the vet or something unexpectedly, and spent $17. Next areas I hadn’t budgeted for but, I think I will budget for cash withdrawal in the future. And I bought for flights for which I will be reimbursed.

Reflecting on my “What I’m Buying in April” post, from what I included in the graphic I only purchased the Sephora sale items and the black high tops. I didn’t buy the suitcase and I’m actually very glad I didn’t because I think I have decided that I need to prioritize buying the check-in size rather than the carry-on. My trip in July is long enough that I think I have to check a bag even though I am normally a carry on only person by default. I think I could maybe do it with clothing alone but it’s the liquids. I don’t know if I can do all of the events, the length of the trip with just a little 1 litre ziploc baggie of liquids for makeup and skincare.

Moving forward into May, I have to stick to my grocery budget. What I spend on food is completely absurd and it has to stop. I am determined to be much more diligent with meal planning and grocery list making and sticking to the grocery list. I also am going to be skipping Hello Fresh all month and am going to plan one vegetarian dinner each week to hopefully reduce my grocery expenses that way. I also think that I need to go back in and readjust my budget after I make my “What I’m Buying …” each month. I think it will be kinder and more realistic to myself.

The other big area of change is that I have increased my pension contributions, partly because I had to pay taxes this year, and I’m hoping that by increasing my pension contributions I can avoid that next year. So I’m not sure yet what impact that will have on my net pay.

These posts are, over time, increasing my consciousness of my spending habits. They are unsustainable, but I also do not want to live in a way that a Dave Ramsey type would have someone with debt live (although from what I can tell from what I’ve seen, I’m no where near as bad as most of the people he talks to). I want to go to my friends’ weddings and wear clothes that bring me joy and eat good, nutritious foods and read physical copies of books.

Have a great month,


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