Budget Update – Dec 2016

Budget Experiment FAIL? 

Before delving into my budget update, new readers:

  • If this is your first time on my blog, welcome! Do read my other posts my debt freedom journey and my net worth update to help you understand my financial history and goals.
  • My monthly budget for a household size of one ranges anywhere from $1,500 – $1600.  Not included here, is my student loan payment. You can find that information tracked within my net worth updates. Also, click here to see the rest of my budget updates.
  • My monthly budget does not include my car insurance because I pay the full 6-month premium twice a year.

Now to the last budget update of 2016!

I started with a budget plan of $1,600/month in September and progressively cut back to $1,500/month for December. Well, let’s just say that was probably too ambitious for December. I spent $1,553.88 ($53.88 over budget and I went over budget in every category!

Here is a breakdown of how I spent $1,533.88 in December 2016.

Bills and Utilities ($1,150): My fixed expenses include rent, water, sewage, trash, internet, Hulu, and Netflix. Cellphone, gas, and electricity vary from month to month, depending on my habits. The variations for this month are discussed below.

  • My electricity bill was $38.67, slightly up for the cooler month of November and December. Even though I live in Houston Texas, I turned on the heater a few days in November and December when the temperature dropped below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  I expect higher electric bills in Jan – February and then back to normal by March.
  • For Gas, I spent $20.10 this month, thanks to $17 savings from my plenti rewards card. What I love about this rewards card is that you accumulate decent points every month for normal activities (like watching select shows on Hulu) and paying select bills (like AT&T) connected to your account.

Here is a breakdown of my bills and utilities for the month.

Food and Dining ($150): I cut down this budget to $150 from $160 two months ago.  With less than a dollar over budget, there will be no changes to this budget area for now. I will continue to cook most of my meals at home and only buy what I need weekly to decrease waste.

Miscellaneous Expenses ($200): Anything not included in the above is captured here. This month, I purchased random items that I needed here or there. To simplify my budget further, I included personal care here, which used to be its own category.  This month, I overspent in this category by almost $50 dollars.

What this past 4 months has taught me is that I need somewhere between $1500 -$1600 per month to be very comfortable and with room to cut back if need be. Moving forward in 2017, The plan is to set aside $1600 for living expenses. Whatever is left over (if any) will be kept in a reserve account for unexpected but not emergent expenses.  I have come a long way from ~$3200/month average in 2011 – 2015 and right now, I am in my sweet spending spot. moving forward, my focus will be on the increasing income side of the equation to get me to financial independence.

What are your new year resolutions related to your budget? Please share them in the comment section below!


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