Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I recently received a reader request from Allison (shout out to Allison --- Thanks for reading!). She suggested that I share my budget as she felt readers might be interested. So here it goes…in addition to sharing my budget numbers I thought I’d take it a step further and share my philosophy on budgets which is that is has to be stretchy like a rubber band or it will never work.

My monthly budget is $1800, excluding savings and automatic withdraws from my paycheck*. This increases several months a year when I have irregular expenses like car maintenance, vacation, taxes etc. To account for these irregular expenses I save monthly so in reality I still stay with in my budget. My budget line items are pretty simple – I like to keep it easy as can be. Big Expenses include Rent ($620), Charity ($500), Dinning/Entertainment ($230), Utilities ($150), Gas ($100), Groceries/Sundries ($100), Misc-clothing, memberships, gifts etc ($100). Any left over from the month I roll over to my irregular expenses savings in addition to my normal savings.

* My health insurance, flexible spending account, renters insurance, retirement contributions etc is automatically deducted from my paycheck

While my monthly budget is $1800, I don’t hold strictly to my line item budgets. Each month is slightly different for me – one month I might eat out more often but buy less Groceries, another months I might splurge a little big more on gifts (especially around June when I have three birthdays in a row) but I’m so busy at Birthday parties that I don’t drive as much. I don’t beat myself up over this if I go over my targeted line item budget, I simply adjust for it from another category. If you don’t adjust for it then its like you’re on a really strict diet and I don’t know about you but I can never seem to follow those because eventually you just can’t take it anymore and have to splurge so I allow myself that splurging. It also allows you to do last minutes items that aren’t planned for – if my friends are going out and I don’t have to say no just because I’ve reached the $230 limit, I can just “borrow” a little for another category or if I absolutely need some toilet paper but I’ve used up my $100 groceries/sundries budget I can still get the items I need and “borrow” it from gas etc. The only two that I don’t borrow from are Rent because I prefer not to get evicted and I don’t borrow from Charity because I make that a priority. But all the rest are adjustable.

To help ensure that I’m staying on track with my budget, at least once a week I check on my total expenses for the month (excluding the irregular expenses) and calculate how much remaining money I have – this helps me to adjust my spending and help me remember my goal with my budget. I also check on each of my line items to make sure I’m in the ballpark and if I notice a trend over several months I adjust accordingly as well.

That’s my take on budgets --- how do you manage your budget and what does your budget look like?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Carnival of Personal Finance #158

The Carnival of Personal Finance #158 Hosted by Mrs. Micahis up and running.

There's a tone of great posts by fellow bloggers, but sure to check them out and while you're there check out my article which is post under Assorted Instruments.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday's Money Funny - Tipping

One of the regular features on my blog is "Monday's Money Funny" which are humorous (at least to me) articles/jokes/just about anything that I've discovered over the weekend when I catch up on all my on line reading that spark a need for knowledge. For example the previous Monday Money Funny was about how People that are too Happy to be Rich.

This week's Money Funny is To Tip or Not to Tip from Do the Right Thing advice column on CNN Money.

Below are the highlights. You can check out the full column by clicking here.

Question: I was at standing on a pier recently when my hat blew into the lake. A nice kid, maybe 9 or 10 years old, swam out and got it for me. I thanked him appreciatively and also thanked his mother, who was nearby. A friend says a “thank you” wasn’t enough - that I should have given the boy ten bucks, or maybe treated him and his friends to ice cream cones. What do you think?

When should you tip? I know when I'm out with my mom she is always asking me should I give him a tip, how much? Well I've scored all of Emily Post's Guidelines, Encyclopedias, and just about every resource I know and have found the best all inclusive guidelines for you at Findalink. It covers everything from tipping at restaurant to tipping at a funeral and all things in between so all of your bases are covered.

Personally I try and follow common courtesy but in general I tip when I feel its appropriate and I tend to "over tip". I'm an extremely generous tipping when I receive good service. It just makes sense to appreciate job well done. For example I tip my hair dresser around 30% despite the guide calling for 10-20%, I do this because this the the woman who controls whether I have a good hair day or bad hair day for the next 4 months, so when she does a great job I let her know. Plus when I come back she remembers (although I've been going to Leslie since I was in elementary school so I think she remembers me, but the large tips help her remember to take good care of me). The same is true of a waiter or waitress, I tip large when I've had really good service, not because I think I'm going to get the same server the next time but by tipping large I'm reinforcing the good service that they offered so they will continue this habit. That's just my two cents on tipping.

Stay tuned for next week's Monday's Money Funny. If you run across any Money Funnies please email them to me at and if I use them I will give you credit and link to your blog.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekend Round Up -- The Neglected Edition

Ugh -- this past week has been exceptionally rough on the Project from Hell. This week we were trying to top out the building so it meant even more exceptionally long hours (Thursday I was at the job site for a solid 20 hours yuck!) -- I think I'm still sleep walking trying to catch up on sleep. I'm now trying to spend a lazy Sunday on the sofa sleeping and catching up on the PF Bloggers World -- while I was sleep walking my peers on PF Blogger were busy keeping up informed.

A few highlights from this past were include:

Ashley from Wide Open Wallet featured another guest post from Bruce the Tax Guy about how to hire a professional. Very good advice - especially since I've started thinking I might want to hire a professional financial adviser but that discussion is for another post.

Kevin from No Debt Plan discusses Target Date Retirement Funds. This is what the bulk of my retirement is housed in because its really easy to manage.

Master Your Card's Kristy shared how to Get Perfect Credit -- looks like no matter what I'm going to have to wait another 20 years before I can potentially have perfect credit, I guess I'm okay settling for near perfect credit ;)

Penelope from Our Four Pence Worth
shared an interesting twist on Monopoly with accounts.

Living Almost Large raised some interesting questions about are Credit Cards really the cause of debt or is it simply the people using them. Personally I use a credit card for every purchase, I think for the last month I've had the same $12 in my wallet. I'd be in real trouble if I could only use cash. Until Mr. Be Mine I'd never met anyone who was a strickly cash person, to me it seems a lot more difficult and more expense - always having to drive to the bank plus you have to keep all of your receipts to keep track of your spending. Are you a cash or credit person?

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