Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Tightening My Belt

For most of my working life, the last working day of the month has been Pay Day.  This morning, as usual, I did my accounts.  Using the cash book pages in my Filofax, I listed my income and my outgoings.  While I do this every month, today I had a bigger incentive - having watched the numbers closely in June and July, I made the decision in August to save and invest more money.  And now, I wanted to see what the effect would be on my bank account.  (Yes, that's right, while I can run scenarios in Excel until the cows come home for work, I never seem to get around to doing it for myself.  Wishful thinking numbers, yes [e.g. daydream scenarios of lottery wins].  Real numbers, no.)

So, this morning, I added my salary payment to the balance in my bank account, deducted money for the joint account, my savings accounts, Weight Watchers, Audible, the Housekeeping money, my share ISA, £180 to the Petrol/Diesel Accrual, and £180 to my Money to Live Off.  I went to write down the next line:, "credit card repay", and stopped. Staring me in the face was a brutal truth:  I'd been too cocky with my calculations when I changed the savings and investment numbers.  No matter how many times I added up the numbers - and most of them are the same each month - there was no way I could avoid what I was seeing.  If I was to maintain my debt pay down levels something would have to give.  I had a shortfall of £35.

£35.  Not a huge some of money.  There have been times when I've spent that much on a meal out.  But it was £35 more than I earn.  £35 I don't have.

I stared at the numbers. I started arguing with myself. I baulked at cutting the debt pay-down money.  It made me nauseous to think about it.  I also rebelled at cutting my savings and investments.  Just couldn't do it - that money is needed for future things, important things, for which I have plans.  That left little else to choose from:  my Sanity Fund? No! Everyone needs a Sanity Fund and mine is only £60/month (earmarked for a pressure canner, clothes and craft supplies).  Cut out Weight Watchers?  No, even though I don't go to meetings any more, I need access to their website to track my points.


In the end, I decided it'd have to be split equally between my Money To Live Off and the Petrol/Diesel Accrual, which is money I allocate to pay for fuel for the car during the month.  £17.50 off each.  It's not going to be easy.  I'd already cut my Money to Live Off back so that I could save more money.  Now it's £162.50 a month to pay for everything I might need and/or want:  birthday presents, social events, music for choir, hair cuts, clothes, software, books, DVDs, dental visits, etc, etc.  Seems like a lot of money until you realise that a round of four drinks at the pub quiz can cost over £12.

The effects on the Petrol/Diesel Accrual will be even harsher. At current prices, it's down to little more than 4 tanks-worth of diesel a month.  I usually go through one tank a week in a normal-commute-to-work-week.  As long as a tank of diesel stays below £40, then I should have a little time to save up for the next 5-week month.  That will be March; September won't qualify because we're taking a holiday and December includes work's Christmas shut down.

Fingers crossed I get a salary increase when the pay reviews are done in December.  I'd like my £35 spending money back, please.

- Pam

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