Monday, June 9, 2008

My Monthly Budget Outline

So, it goes without saying that my impending move to California has brought up the balancing act of budgeting, finances and how in the world I'm going to justify the purchase of a new wardrobe.

After looking over the black-and-white ink of my ever-dwindling bank account, my tight-fisted father looked over at me and said, "You realize you're broke for the next six months, right."

No, it wasn't a question.

So began the process of numbering out my budget. It's going to cost me approximately $1,300 to move in December. That includes the cost of the U-Haul I will have to rent to transport my worldly material goods from my duplex in the suburbs of Kansas City to a tiny apartment in the sprawl of Chico, California, the gas that will go into that U-Haul and if I'm feeling particularly generous, the cost of the Dad's plane ticket to return back to Kansas City.

The first way to accomplish this is to pencil out a monthly budget complete with a six-month plan.

So, my income after taxes is around $928 from my primary job as a front-desk clerk at a hotel. Although I make $10.50 per hour, I'm estimating my actual hourly earning as $8.50 to be more careful, and estimating it as working 32 hours a week, although it's usually closer to 40. It's safer to go with averages, after all.

My budget is as follows:

1. Gas.

It takes about $40 to fill up my tank, and I generally have to fill it up once a week. Therefore, it's save to average $160 for gas, monthly.
Allowance: $160.

2. Groceries.

There was a time when all I lived on was Lean Cuisine, because I've always been conscientious of my weight. Now, because I'm too apathetic to cook and I really don't like to eat that much, my groceries have been pretty much reduced to staples. I purchase organic milk, tea bags, organic honey, wheat bread, naturally processed eggs (in paper containers rather than Styrofoam, of course), creamy peanut butter and generally a few Lean Cuisines or Weight Watchers Smart Ones. I've noticed that the Weight Watchers Smart Ones taste better and are generally cheaper individually, but when you're buying bulk, Lean Cuisines are frequently less expensive. A grocery run, on average, costs me about $80, and I try not to go more than twice a month.

Allowance: $160.

3. Cell phone.

My cellphone, when I'm responsible, only costs me around $20 a month. Given that I'm in a long-distance relationship with a man who is allergic to calling me during my night time and weekend allowance (he uses AT&T, and I'm on Sprint) and have several friends that I talk to frequently that have not yet converted to Sprint, it's not uncommon for me to exceed my allotted 300 anytime minutes and suffer an overage charge. So I'll allow $40, to be on the safe side.

Allowance: $40.

4. Miscellaneous.

I have a gym membership that I absolutely love, and it only costs me $40 a month. I'll also throw entertainment needs of $60, which includes purchasing clothes, make-up, books and eating out. I don't include seeing movies, because I don't have to pay for those, courtesy of my press pass.

Allowance: $100.

5. Pets.

I have two dogs, who are aged six and 10 respectively. Given their advanced ages and my own background in vet sciences, I prefer to feed them a mixture of Purina One Senior Protection, which delivers several essential nutrients and vitamins to protect their aging systems, and Purina One Healthy Weight Formula. Generally speaking, mixing the two, 11-pounds of dog food together keeps them fed for two weeks, and each bag costs about $12. So food runs me around $25 a month.

My 10-year-old is also arthritic, so weight loss is critical to ensuring her long-term viability. Additionally, to treat her arthritis, I need to keep her supplied with glucosamine tablets (I'm partial to peanut butter-flavored brands, because the dog can be tricked into believing they're treats) and her prescription medication.

Allowance: $50 (for food, treats and medication).

6. Savings

I have a Savings Account which requires a minimum balance of $100 at all times. Currently, I believe it is at $200. Starting with my paycheck that arrives on Thursday, $100 per paycheck will be placed in my Savings, because that's where I intend to focus the financing of the move. In six months, I will have generated $1200 just by depositing that small increment of my paycheck.

Allowance: $200.

So, my total monthly budget is at $710. This still leaves me with about $200 to keep in my checking account for "emergencies."

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