January: The Numbers

[Not an especially catchy title, but it is slightly improved if you think of Kai Ryssdal reading it… Marketplace, anyone? “Let’s do the numbers…”]

I love to fiddle with numbers.  I like calculating, adding, finding percentages… all of it, really.  Today I spent some time tallying up my spending and savings numbers from January.  No matter how many things I give away or sell, my beloved TI-83 will not be making the cut list!

Here’s a number I was really pleased with:  $309.36.  That’s the amount of “side hustle” I brought in during January.  (I think as long as the phrase makes me laugh a little, I shouldn’t be allowed to say it without the quotation marks…:) )  This includes a random $10 from my mom (she called it a “tip,” but we both know she was just being generous), $170 from babysitting (I made a facebook status saying I was interested in babysitting; all of this came through that!), $75.06 from consignment sales, $20 reimbursement from hospital, and $34.30 from Amazon book sales.

Here’s another number I like: 51.11%. That’s how much of my income (in all its forms, regular paychecks & otherwise) that I directed toward savings.

Even though I’m pleased with those two numbers, there is one VERY LARGE blemish on my monthly recap: my food/dining expenses, which totaled $208.75!!! Sadly, there were only four memorable (and worthy!) dining experiences for my month: an inexpensive tea with a friend, sushi with my brother, a friend’s birthday dinner at a nice restaurant, and dinner with my boyfriend & our friends on Friday night. Other than that, I’d say the dining money wasn’t well spent at all. There are quite a few coffees on here (by myself), four lunches I purchased while at work (totaling $31.76; these have to be delivery or within walking distance of the store, so that makes them more expensive than if I were able to go anywhere I pleased), and too many meals on-the-run. Total, I had 25 dining transactions (this includes coffees). That is not what needs to be happening!

So, here’s a heap o’ financial goals for February:

  • Spend < 1/3 what I spent on dining out in January, which means a maximum of $70.
  • Have at least 8 “no spend” days; I had 6 in January, but three fell on snow days, so they weren’t that hard to come by. I don’t count saving or tithing as spending, because it doesn’t really matter which day I part with the money for those causes.
  • No purchasing lunch at work; any money I do spend on meals that I don’t prepare for myself should be in situations where I get some other benefit than convenience from the meal (e.g., a really delicious meal I have the time to savor, a chance to catch up with friends, a date night with my boyfriend, etc.).
  • Save between $100 and $150 in my savings account earmarked for health insurance.  (This expense will begin in May, potentially at $200+ a month.)
  • In January, I saved $40 cash for a bridesmaid dress that I will likely be purchasing in February or early March.  I am not sure how much the dress will cost, but I hope to pay for the bridesmaid dress in cash without accessing money that is currently in my savings accounts.  While technically this is an irregular expense, I think I would feel disappointed to take such a sizable chunk out of my “Irregular Expenses” savings account so soon.  Instead of depleting that account, then, I will just stop contributing to it during the month of February and set aside the money as cash savings until I make the purchase.  I am estimating that it will cost between $150 and $200, though I can’t be sure.  Luckily, I don’t usually need to have alterations done.
  • Give my boyfriend $25.  I offered this as a contribution toward our New Year’s Eve meal, and then I forgot to actually give it to him during the month of January!  He said not to worry about it, but I’d like to go ahead and give that to him.
  • Purchase inexpensive but thoughtful birthday gifts for Littlest Sister (born on Valentine’s day!) and my dad (a few days after that).
  • File my taxes.  I should get at least a small refund.  I’ve always done my own taxes, but this year they are significantly more complicated than previous years.  I’ll need to decide if I should pay to have them done correctly (ensuring the largest possible return) or if I should try to do them on my own (which I find immensely satisfying and fun to do, but I have a larger potential for error–and smaller return–this year).  I’ll consult my CPA friend before I make a decision here.

While I’m not participating in the “no spend” month that Sharon is sponsoring here, I think my goals will definitely have me spending dramatically less in February.  I think reading the updates posted by those who are participating in the challenge will be encouraging!  I’d like to try something along those lines at some point, but I think going from 60 to 0 might be a little much…

Currently, I’m trying to stave off the flu (Littlest Sister currently has it).  If I don’t succeed, it won’t be for lack of effort.  If I’m able to avoid it, that could be a big part of making my February a financial success.  (sick = missing work = reduced income)

I’m excited for a clean slate with February 1!  I always love February anyway.  I find strange satisfaction in its brevity, in its four, exact weeks.  Or maybe I just like February, because I also love the leap year Februaries (can you do that with plural February?) for their little bonus day…and maybe it’s not strange, maybe everyone likes February…

Either way, here it is, and here we go!

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4 thoughts on “January: The Numbers

  1. Lindy Mint says:

    Marketplace comes on right as I’m pulling into my driveway, so I never get a chance to listen to it. It’s kind of funny, because I used to be so not into finances that I hated hearing that theme song when it came on. Now I kind of wish it came on sooner.

    Nice job on the side hustles! Love those $10 tips from mom.

  2. laura says:

    Good job on the side hustle!

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