March 2017 – Budget Review


Join me this month in my "budget or bust" March 2017 Budget Review. March provided many temptations, but we stayed the course (and still had fun)
March 2017 Budget Review

March 2017 Budget Review

Here we are, the beginning of April 2017 and it’s time for the March 2017 Budget Review. My hope is that by publishing what went right (or went wrong), I can hold myself publicly accountable and remain transparent so that you might learn from me.

In this month’s budget review, despite how insane March was, we came out on top! There was A LOT of moving parts this month. Husband got a bonus + we got our federal tax return. Since I only worked half of last year before becoming a SAHM, we got a pretty decent return.

So, here’s what went right:

1.) We budgeted out all the extra cash flow.

I could feel the old-overspender Ashley aching to just go spendddddd the surplus. I would go from feeling really good about paying down some things to second guessing if we should maybe just put off a bit longer so we could buy XXX. I’ve really worked on my mindset, so I was able to catch these thoughts as they were passing.

2.)  We still gave ourselves room to have fun.

I am a BIG believer in the fact that we all need cheat days (or dollars). Whether you are getting fit and taking a break from healthy food to enjoy some ice cream, strict budgeting and debt paydown needs to be paired with the ability to just have fun sometimes. Since budgeting in this “grace amount,” we’ve been much happier. Less fights about overspending, more having fun going out with friends or setting aside for vacations! So, for our surplus, Husband spent a healthy amount on his hobbies (mostly guitars), and I went shopping. It was a nice break that let me feel like I could enjoy our money, but still work towards those pay downs I mentioned.

3.) We paid off one large balance credit card.

Holler! Can I get an amen?! The balance started at $7000 and we have been painfully paying it off for over 1.5 years (‘member when I told you we used to be broke and couldn’t afford groceries? Yeah, this was the card that bought groceries 3 years ago….and we were STILL paying for it). I transferred $5000 to a 0% APR card that will be paid off completely by August 2018, if not sooner. There was a smallish balance left on the old card that we paid down. AND IT FEELS SO GOOD.

4.) We paid for things we had been putting off.

Like getting the front end of our Jeep fixed. Putting money aside for some necessary house projects like replacing a few moldy boards on the deck and taking care of the lawn this summer.

5.) We got a new van and put 5k down.

Yeah, das right! I became a minivan mom! 2011 Honda Odyssey. No shame here ’cause that thing is noiiice! Leather seats, moonroof, bluetooth…it’s literally the nicest and newest car I have ever owned or driven. And while, it might seem counterproductive to our goals, we both agreed that we would rather spend money to find a very reliable car that I enjoyed driving that I could depend on for the next 10 years. I will dedicated another post to our decision to purchase a newer car and take out a small car loan in the next few weeks.

Also? Getting kids into carseats from the Jeep was getting real old.

So, what went wrong?

1.) We still overspent.

This is going to sound like I’m justifying overspending and that’s because I am. Once again, I will be writing another post covering prioritized spending and such, but basically some things came up (don’t they always?!):

  • I booked my best friend’s bachlorette party weekend! Beach front property on Lake Michigan in September. That was worth overspending for. Plus, the bridesmaids will be reimbursing me. It’s not a total loss, but I am still counting this as a bust, because it wasn’t planned and it really should have been. I knew this was coming.
  • I bought tickets to Lady Gaga! Seeing one of her shows has been on my bucket list and it was one of those things that I found out about and I could not say no. So again, no regrets – worth overspending!

2.) First month of automatic savings.

I expected a few hiccups this month as it was the first paycheck of the first month of my new automatic savings plan. I have my accounts set up now to where all my bills and savings happen automatically. This is another coming soon post, but basically I scheduled a few for the wrong time of the month. Not a huge deal, but it did require me to rework somethings and counts as a bust.

Goals for April

  • I am looking forward to a smoother April – seamless savings transfer and bill pays on my automatic plan. I’ll report next month how it goes! Stay tuned…
  • Scaling back the spending once again. While we budgeted all that spending money, it is still hard to pull my mind back into reality and re-ground myself in our goals and monthly budgeting. I am considering keeping a tab of things I spend on (or consider spending on) that are out of budget so I visualize the impact of buying extra crap.
  • Currently, I am using Google Docs as a way to budget – I am going to be overhauling my Google Sheets to simplify the process, and I’m hoping to create a free budget spreadsheet that you can use as well.


So, is March 2017 a BUDGET or BUST: BUDGET!

While there was some spending, most of it was budgeted. And even the “unbudgeted” spending like the girls weekend and Gaga tickets came from a special savings account, so we didn’t dip into any of our savings, we didn’t overdraft, and we didn’t put anything on a credit card. WIN!

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