Though I am slightly ashamed to admit it, I've never quite understood the concept of budgeting. Money comes in, I stare at it in astonishment, then go out and spend it on whatever I need to hold hearth and home together. I have all kinds of theories about my dubious relationship with money that I won't bore you with here, suffice to say finding myself living through the first recession I remember as a home owning adult, it struck me that perhaps it was time to identify exactly how much of my hard earned pennies are going on joyful unnecessaries while I all too often find myself feeling borderline poverty struck in the aisles of the supermarket..
And so on January 1st 2009 I started a little experiment: I would write down every single penny I spent and finally discover what it is that is eating my money...
Below is my expenditure from the first four weeks of 2009. (I know it isn't thought polite to share the details of one's finances, but it seems that there isn't a tad of me I now consider private, bless my silly soul.) This was probably a quiet month in term of socializing and also a very good month with regard to bills. The car is currently off the road so there was no expenditure there, though because it has been so very cold gas costs have spiraled. I have no idea whether this represents the normal spending pattern of a thirty six year old single mother of one little munchkin, but I would be interested to hear your own views and ideas on budgeting. Am I spending too much on food? Not enough? Is my book/magazine obsession out of hand? Percentage wise do you and I have similar spending patterns or is my expenditure a bit skewiff? Have you got any budgeting tips that will transform my life in an era when tomato puree (my credit crunch price barometer) was 26p last week and 49p this week?
Bills.(Note: Mark pays the mortgage in lieu of maintenance)
Gas and electricity: £120.00 (14%) Phone and Broadband: £55.00 (6%) Council Tax: £100.00 (12%) Parking Ticket (!!): £38.00 (5%) Insurances: £54.00 (7%) Dog Sponsorship For Finn: £8.00 (1%) DVD rental: £13.00 (2%)
Food: £170.00 (21%) Sundries: £30.00 (3%) Books and Magazines: £67.00 (8%) Clothes and Shoes: £15.00 (2%) Gifts: £45.00 (5%) Vintage Treasure: £30.00 (3%)
Entertainment and Eating Out: £60.00 (7%) Computer Software: £22.00 (2%)
And the challenge? To reduce my expenditure by 5% month by month until the end of 2009. Watch this space...