Friday, August 29, 2008

I Survived on $6.75/day for Food in August!

As discussed in my prior post, my budget doesn't include any provisions for groceries, food, gas, clothing, toiletries, etc. Instead, I’ve allocated a $500 lump sum per month on my American Express card to pay for non-fixed expenses.

My American Express bill just ended its billing cycle for August and it totaled $796.20.

Of that amount, the following items do NOT count against my budget:
$334.47 for 30,000-mile car service: Thankfully, I had the foresight to earmark $25 from every paycheck for this expense since February, so I had $400 saved to pay this expense. I charged it on my Amex rather than paying cash so that I can earn Membership Rewards for future vacations.

$92.44 for reimbursement for food and gas during business trips: I’m confident that I will be reimbursed before the end of September when payment is due.
The result? Budget – Actual = $500 - $369.29 = $130.71 under budget!

Here’s the breakdown of my August expenses:
Groceries: $209.38: This includes food, toiletries, cat food/kitty litter, etc. This is $6.75/day, folks!

Entertainment: $12.00 for movies. I caught a couple of matinees on the weekends where the ticket only costs me $5-$6. I also took my own water and popcorn. (Did you know movie theaters allow outside food now?)

Gas (Non-reimbursable): $121.01

US Postal Service: $12.95

Misc: $13.95: I bought a clay paw-print kit. I’m a bit concerned that my geezer cat, MJ, doesn’t have much longer to live. I wanted his paw print as memento.
As you can see, I spend very little on entertainment since I’ve already justified my extended-basic, digital cable and high-speed internet cost as a fixed monthly “entertainment” expense. I also borrow a lot of books, CDs and DVDs from the library.

With respect to food, I’ll write about my survival tips in next week’s post.

This is what I plan to do with the extra $130.71:
• $35 will go into my Emergency Fund
• $5 will go into my Christmas Fund earmark
• $5 will go into my Pet Care Fund earmark
• $5 will go into my Miscellaneous Fund earmark
• $25 will be earmarked towards my Costco renewal fee (due October)
• $50 will go into my Vacation Fund earmark
• $5 will be “cash”

I know, I know. I should be using 100% of the $130.71 to pay down my debts and/or to fund my emergency fund. Actually, I consider my Vacation/Miscellaneous Fund as a back-up of my Emergency Fund. In the event of an emergency, I’ll tap my Vacation Fund or my Misc. Fund if my EF is insufficient. Unfortunately, that “emergency” is looming in the horizon since I could get laid off at the end of the year….

Anyhow, next week, I’ll give my tips on how I made it through the month on $6.75/day.

Until then, have a great Labor Day Weekend, y'all!