Urban Adaptation

Sustainable urban living, rural dreams, and daily change for a homemade life.

September budget, part one

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For me, a new school year usually means a new budget.  I’ve spent some time recently working my way through my budget in preparation for the school year, especially now that a bunch of my finances have changed (new work, end of a scholarship, and so on).

I think budgeting is important for a few reasons.  First, knowing what my budget is means that I can spend below my means.  So long as I keep doing this, I can avoid depleting my savings or going into debt, which is a comforting feeling.  Having a budget also means that I can build in savings.  By doing so, I’m almost always sure – barring an emergency – to be contributing to my savings account on a regular basis, and making sure I’m in good shape should anything happen. Finally, having a budget means I have a really clear idea of where my money goes every month, and being aware helps to keep me even more in check with my spending, such as it is.

I know a lot of people don’t like budgets because they can feel restrictive, and in some cases they really can be – I’m more than willing to admit there’s a huge difference between needing to be on a budget and choosing to be on one.  There are, however, some ways of feeling better a budget.  This may not work for everyone, but in order to avoid feeling this way I try to view mine as a challenge.  I regularly challenge myself to stay under the monthly amounts that I’ve budgeted, or to see if I can save a certain amount above and beyond what I usually save.  The challenge makes it a bit more fun, and really lets me feel like saving is far more rewarding than spending could be.

Given that I’m no longer on scholarship – them’s the rules, and I simply can’t be anymore – there have been some adjustments to my budget.  I’m working really hard to not only live off just my teaching income, which isn’t a whole lot, but to generate some savings from it as well.  I’ll be paying tuition this year as much as possible from a few other income source (as well as a bit from savings, if need be), and the more I can save from teaching, the better off I’ll be in terms of covering and moving beyond what is easily one of my biggest expenses.

While I may go into more detail later (I’m concerned this sounds a bit vague), for now I’ve worked out a budget that incorporates savings and a generous allowance for each of my living expenses, plus a bit set aside for more fun-ish things.  If I spend all of the money I’ve allocated in a month, I’ll still be living under my means and putting away some money for savings.  But, with the cap that I’ve set there’s a lot of room for flexibility, and hopefully a lot of room to save even more – what I don’t spend every month will get put into savings.

I will admit that I’ve been a bit lax in these last few almost-heady days of having a scholarship, research work, and extra teaching at the same time.  I certainly haven’t strayed into dip-into-savings territory – not by a long shot – but I could probably be even a bit more careful.

At this point I’m actually looking forward to having a plan and cutting back a bit more, especially as I challenge myself not only to save money, but to work on finding more ways to creatively avoid spending where it’s not necessary.  This could, of course, be an interesting challenge.  This circumstance is, I think, the closest I’ve ever been to needing a budget rather than just wanting one, which makes me a bit uncomfortable in some ways.  That said, I have a plan for the money that I know is coming in, whetever I can make or save on top that will be a savings bonus, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this works out and reporting back as I go.

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Written by Jenn

August 29, 2010 at 1:07 am

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