February’s report card: B

Now that February is over, I have reviewed my results against my plan, and I’m giving myself a B. I met my mini-goal for the month, although just barely.

Here’s some highlights to illustrate why I didn’t give myself a B+ or an A:

  • I over spent in my home decor line item. This is my weak area. Some women go for shoes, I like to shop for the house. My budget was $50, and I spent $81.98. No, $32 is not a lot of money, but it’s a 61% overage. The clincher was finding little chandelier baubles on Craigslist for the currently naked chandelier that I found on the sidewalk;
  • Spent $188.77 on car rental when nothing was budgeted. I had some charges late in December, they showed up in February;
  • Spent $8.55 on books, there was nothing in the budget. Okay, so I have another weakness;
  • Spent $509.06 on medical while $400 was budgeted.  I can’t control this one (really), but that’s the way it shakes down.

On the positive side:

  • My estimates for mortgage, cable TV, cell phone, utilities, public transit, entertainment, eating out, gifts, insurance were either bang on or just slightly under budget;
  • I put $1500 toward debt repayment, lowering my line of credit by $1,428.77 (there’s the interest, remember?);
  • still managed to put money toward post-secondary savings for the kids;
  • got a $175.40 cheque from Home Depot from a credit I had with them, which I applied to my visa bill;
  • sold an unwanted household item on Craigslist for $60.

The short term goal I wanted to accomplish was to have a minimum balance in my bank account at the start of the month. I did it!  There’s even $79.60 to spare. I’m going to put that into savings. Imagine, something in savings?

The bottom line for February is my revenue exceeded my expenses by $267.24. It’s not as much as I’d budgeted ($581.91), but I didn’t spend more than I earned. I met my debt obligations aggressively, and I met my short term goal. Frankly, it feels a bit dull, but this is how I’m going to win this battle, month by month by month.

The problem with my budget is there isn’t any wiggle room.  That’s okay right now, when it’s winter and I’m hibernating. Once the weather turns nicer and I get out more, I’m going to be challenged even more to stay the course.

I already know that I can’t give myself an A grade for March, due to my delusional use and treatment of my visa card from December. BUT, these credit card issues will be cleared up after March, and I will have no excuse to give you some song and dance about how I ignored it or didn’t see it coming. No excuses.

For two months in a row, I have not spent something I haven’t earned, and I can give myself an A for tracking money. I know where every red cent went or came from. But still, this feels tedious at times. The more I do it, the more I realize this is no different than the battle I’ve had with weight management. Anybody can lose weight (lose the debt), but where the rubber really meets the road is keeping it off (staying out of debt, and saving smart). There is no magic wand that waves to declare you’ve arrived at some frozen state of being, and you can go back to your old ways again while never having the same consequences. You maintain the frozen state by dedication, commitment, and staying the course.

Wonder how many months will go by until I stop thinking it’s dull, and just accepting it as a way of life?

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