Tonight’s the big night - this evening my partner and I will sit down and go through our 2007 expenses and create our first budget ever. I’m looking forward to having a plan for 2008.
I am excited and anxious about our first joint financial planning session. We’ve talked a lot about money, income, and spending, so I’m not worried about those kind of details - we put it all out there years ago. The part I’m nervous about is giving up some of my financial power and control - but based on the results of my 2007 spending look-back analysis - the additional accountability will be immensely beneficial for me.
I have never had a budget or “spending plan” before - that’s evident by looking at my 2007 numbers. I track all of my spending with my debit card and a feature my bank offers that allows me to categorize all of my income and expenses as they flow through the account. I’ve also recorded all of my cash flow information in an Excel spreadsheet for years, but this is the first year I’ve actually done something with that data.
Most of my expenses are pretty set: mortgage, utilities, car payment, student loans - there were no surprises there. The part that really shocked me was how much my fiancé and I spent on feeding our faces last year. I spent $8,761 on food in 2007. This includes coffee ($484), meals out ($3815) and groceries ($3412), plus ATM cash withdrawals that I made specifically for farmers’ market spending ($1050). Assuming my partner only spent $100 a month buying occasional gallons of milk and taking me out on dinner dates - the two of us spent nearly $10,000 on food last year - that’s about $200 a week - for two people! Ridiculous!
As my honey and I sit down and try to figure out how we’re going to fund our Infrequent Bills Account and attempt come up with the cash we need to save for our wedding, we need to take a long, hard look at our food budget. I can think of many things that we can cut back on or just eliminate: specialty groceries, milk, and good beer (we are beer snobs) might be a good place to start.
I know that there are people out there that have proven that you can eat well on $20 a week or less - and I say, “Good for them!” We won’t be going to that extreme - we’re trying to eat healthfully and buy locally whenever we can, and sometimes that means paying a bit of a premium (especially when it comes to choosing restaurants that support local producers). Even so, I know that through more careful meal planning and eating out less frequently, we should easily be able to cut our food budget in half, and that’s $5k we can bank to our wedding fund (which is at $2509.07 as of today, thanks to some advice from my readers and a Holiday Windfall).Stumble it!