At the beginning of this year I set out to keep better track of my expenses. A family member suggested that I get a calendar and write down what I spend every day. This seemed a bit old school at first, and extremely inefficient (why would I do that when I have apps that can do it for me?) but I caved and got myself my calendar and pen and away I went.
We are now halfway through the month and it’s interesting to report the exercise has not gone as I had expected! I set a very detailed budget at the beginning of the year and had grand plans of sticking to it. I even had the fortunate success of securing a room mate for January 1, something I had been working on for some time. My plans of saving the rental income and going on a nice vacation were soon crushed when….
(1) First week of January – furnace has problems. $260 repair
(2) Second week of January – I back out of my garage at 5 am to go to the gym, and, manage to smash my passenger side mirror. In retrospect, probably not very awake at 5 am to be driving. $300 repair
Now these two things in isolation may not seem like a big deal, but I had also…..
(3) December registration for Spanish class in the new year. $250.
Add that all up and we’re quickly over $800!
The Spanish class was not in my budget originally, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and figured with a few less trips to the mall and coffee shop it was totally doable.
Interestingly enough, the combination of the above expenses is almost equal to the amount of rent income I received in January….essentially offsetting all my hopes of saving some extra cash.
The overall point here is that if I did not have my calendar staring me in the face each morning with a detailed list of expenses, I would have probably put these on the credit card, forgotten about them until the bill came in (thus not curving my spending for the remainder of the month), and gotten a little shock. Since my calendar was in plain view, I’ve realized I need to watch my spending for the rest of January in order to recover from these unexpected costs (or make more cash, which I have done by securing some tutoring sessions, more on that later).
The silver lining I suppose is that I won’t be going into debt because of these surprises….it just so happens my rental income will be there to help. But its a GREAT example of how we just can’t plan everything, and that sometimes the best thing to do is expect the unexpected.
So next time you have a few hundred bucks left over at the end of the month, sock it away for when you drive your car into your garage at 5 in the morning 🙂