april financial retrospective
Another month, another financial retrospective. This month we see the recurrence of the lovely purple pie slice of savings. It's small, but it's there. I certainly can't be always expecting windfalls like last month's extra paycheck! In any case, this is a sign that things are going well, and I'm not violating the master equation. As long as I practice sufficient conscious spending and keep my debt 'expenditures' down to the base snowball amount, it appears that I can allow myself a few small splurges. It seems like a good balance.
This month involves a rather large number in the 'household' category. This has a few reasons, most notably our large six-month anniversary party. The bouncy house was affordable but not cheap (and certainly more than worth it for the experience of getting to play in one as a grown-up), and I racked up some charges buying party supplies. Admittedly, I seem to have overestimated the need, despite the very large list of attendees, so we will now have paper plates and plastic cutlery until the heat-death of the universe. Warehouse stores can be tricky propositions.
Additionally, due to my newfound financial stability (not attributed to me being sensible or anything, but rather to disallowing extra enthusiasm-fueled debt payments), I was finally able to contribute to our joint account for the first time in a while. That account is used to pay bills and such, and also houses our emergency fund. We like to keep its balance relatively steady over time, but it's been dropping a bit lately. Happily, that corresponds with me getting my affairs more in order, so it should be a trivial problem to correct. I do hate being a drain on our finances, so I'm very happy that I can resume being a contributing member of our little household economic society. Feeling competent and useful is definitely one of the benefits of being financially responsible.
Also, I seem to have spent about $50 more than usual on fuel this month. I've no idea why. Perhaps I drove to work a few more times than usual instead of taking the vanpool. Though gas prices are always climbing, I don't think they've jumped quite enough in merely a month to justify the marked increase in fuel expenses.
I have a line item in my budget spreadsheet labeled 'fudge factor.' I use this to make up the difference between my tracked spending and the actual balance in my checking account at the end of the month. Usually I misplace (forget to record) a bit, and that makes the numbers line up, as well as reminding me that I need to get better at tracking everything. Weirdly, this month the fudge factor was negative, meaning that I wound up with more money than expected. I haven't spotted any spending that has yet to post to the account. If I get to it, I may go through and actually track the balance through to try to find the discrepancy, but for now I'm baffled. Some of the strangest artifacts show up in this process at times.
I did splurge a little bit on myself this month, in that a good friend and I went on a thrift-shopping date and I picked up a pile of clothes. Not too much was spent, and I was extremely picky so everything purchased not only was a 'good deal' but fits well, looks good on me, and goes with my overall style. Yes, it seems a bit weird to be adding clothes to the situation right when one is on a crusade to reduce quantity of clothing and create a more curated wardrobe, but on some level it makes sense. I don't go shopping very often at all, and as a consequence my wardrobe has not notably evolved much in the past decade. My personal style, however, has definitely changed in that time. I also must admit that my body has undergone a few changes as well. Consequently, much of what I already have is ill-fitting and/or simply uninteresting.
Fashion trends aren't particularly relevant, because the style I seem to be working toward is more 1940's professional (in this month's haul were several gorgeous pencil skirts that make me feel fabulous) than whatever is 'hot' right now (I found a pair of Converse high-tops that were made to be folded down to show off the pink plaid lining. There were even eyelets in the tongue to make sure that it stayed firmly in place folded down over the laces. This is a thing?). However, this is still a significant departure from my jeans-and-tank-top wearing teen and college years, so my closet does need input as well as output if it is to evolve into a lovely, appropriate, small collection that I feel great in. It's difficult to get rid of a piece you may not like if you've nothing to replace its function with. So it's my hope that adding really high-quality pieces I actually like and will wear will free up some of my mental blocks on getting rid of older things.
Or perhaps I just like shopping and am trying to rationalize. What do you think?
To return to the financial picture being painted, overall April went quite well. I contributed to our joint fund, splurged on a fantastic party and fabulous clothes, and still showed a net savings. I call that a win!