March’s budget report card: D

Yesterday, I thought for sure I would have to give myself an F, a failing grade.

Why? Because for the last 10 days, I was confident that I’d spent more than I earned in March. Not a lot, but even one dollar is too much. The plan is to not overspend. If I did, it means I’d used credit from somewhere in order to make things work.

Although I was optimistic last week that I’d be .76 in the black, I received an unexpected (and quite minor) bill from my retirement savings investment company for a fee of $8.72.  That made the budget dip into the red. Crap.

This morning, as I checked my bank account, I realize that I actually earned more interest on one of my savings accounts than I anticipated. Because I also started an emergency savings, and put that in a high-interest account, I also got a few cents there.  Turns out saving money really is better than debt! Eureka!

Bottom line: I’m in the black by $2.05. Not bad considering I had projected my bottom line to be $2.45 this month. Pretty damned close.

Okay, so why the low grade? If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll know that I neglected to budget for a couple of big ticket items which caused me to re-jig my budget in March. Namely a few visa charges from December, as well as an annual fee for a credit card. This put me into crisis management in early March.

My failure to acknowledge my visa charges, and my forgetfulness over my annual fees for another credit card have cost me high marks for March. There are no excuses for ignoring bills. None.

However, since those dope-head moves, I’m happy with my March performance, and would have been even if I had to report a failing grade this month.

Here’s the highlights:

  • underspent by $30 on home maintenance
  • underspent by $17 on a budget I had given myself to go to a used book sale
  • had to deposit less than planned into emergency savings to balance the books (not good, but still managed to tuck away $100)
  • overspent in veterinary care (I had nothing budgeted, and the 15 year old cat had a few rough days)
  • overspent in medical expenses (again…perhaps I need to adjust upward for future)
  • underspent in groceries
  • earned an extra $113 in my part-time gig (in fact, went looking for a few extra shifts because I knew things were going to be tight)
  • rewarded a good samaritan $40 for finding a bracelet my daughter had lost at school

March ends my third month getting serious about my money management. Yesterday I blogged about some of my key learnings. There has been a lot that I’ve absorbed this month.

I can’t describe how good it feels to be rock-solid sure that I didn’t spend more than I earned for three months in a row. It feels fantastic! My line of credit is now under $10,000 owing, way under. It’s great not to see two numbers before that first comma.

This isn’t easy, but it can be done. Game on!

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