On Budgeting and Staying Put

July 20th, 2009 by Potato

First off, I’ve been getting a flood of spam comments recently. All ~20 per day seem to hit right around midnight each day, and I think I’ve managed to clean them up every day before anyone else has to see them, but just in case I’ve tightened up the spam filter, so if anyone wants to leave a comment it’s very likely going to get flagged and held until I clear the queue. So if you do decide to comment (assuming there are any readers at all left out there), an FYI that if it doesn’t get posted right away, that’s probably where it is.

After a fairly hectic few months, I finally got around to tabulating the household budget from March through June. Personally, I find the feedback stage one of the most important parts of budgeting — seeing where all the money is actually going, and how close to our targets we actually were. It’s never quite exact: some receipts I don’t get (e.g.: I’m not going to ask Tim Horton’s for a receipt for my muffin), or I forget to put them in the pile (or a note of the amount spent if I didn’t get a receipt). Nonetheless, I try to get as exact an estimate as I can, and guess at approximate monthly spending for certain areas as placeholders (both for the planning budget, and the monthly review budget).

Typically, these spring months (and Jan/Feb to an even greater extent) are our catch-up months, where we generally come in below our planned monthly budget, to make up for the excesses that always occur around Halloween and Potatomas. This year however I was really dreading adding up the spending because I just knew we were going to come in over — we ate out more than we had been, we had a fairly pricey car repair (though the bigger recent one won’t hit until July’s budget), and thanks to some sales at Pharma Plus we also stocked up on a year’s supply of ColdFX and Lactaid. Despite all that though, it actually came out as a fairly normal few months.

A part of that was due to the fact that I was running scans nearly every weekend here in London, so we didn’t go back to Toronto nearly as often. When I first moved out here I used to go back all but one weekend a month! Eventually that settled down to something more like half of them (so two or three in a month), but with all the scans I think I went back only 4 or 5 times in the first 6 months of the year. Even when I stopped scanning we still didn’t get right back to driving back — the biggest reason to drive in to Toronto of course is to see our friends and family, but as we get older our friends are getting, well… busy. So there were many times (perhaps half of them or more) where we’d spend 2 hours on the 401 to drive back, and no one would have time to hang out with us. We decided to stop going back quite so automatically, and wait until those weekends when there was a bit more of a reason to (i.e.: instead of showing up and figuring out what to do, we make plans, like grown-ups. Ugh.). It is kind of nice — 4 more hours in the weekend, we get to have some time around the house, and we don’t have to worry about the cat being all alone or always avoiding grocery shopping on Thursdays and Fridays. One other small benefit is that we save ~$30 in gas money every time we don’t go back — which more than offset our increased eating out!


(Yes, ~$60/mo does make a difference in a grad student’s budget)

One Response to “On Budgeting and Staying Put”

  1. Rez Says:

    I know this is totally off-topic, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on ColdFX.