It’s bad enough that the holiday season usually incurs higher expenses for most households what with buying gifts for kids, family and friends, but when your husband is on rolling lay-offs or someone’s out of work it gets tough to keep track of expenses and stick to a budget.
I’ve been off work for five years now thanks to a nasty Crohn’s disease flare that just won’t calm down. I used to get medical leave pay and benefits, but that ran out a few years ago, so now I’m dependent upon what income I can make on the internet.
My husband on the other hand works in the same hospital where I’m employed (yes I still have a job, I just haven’t been there for years!), but due to the hospital going over budget they’ve decided that his department must go through five or six weeks of shut down. He just completed the first two weeks of temporary lay off and is on his first day back to work. The next scheduled lay off is in March and the last in July. Once he’s accumulated enough time off work he’ll get some unemployment insurance money, but it won’t come near to what he would have made had he been working his regular hours.
So … we’re on a budget! A tight one.
My husband will get a paycheck this week but I believe that it will be for zero dollars as he didn’t work the last two weeks thanks to the lay off, so the next real paycheck we can count on from him is January 20th! That’s a long wait!
So over the weekend I spent some time working on a budget for the next month. I added up what money we each have in the bank, cash on hand, and money that we expect to come in between now and the end of the month. I then totaled all of our upcoming bills, like our biweekly mortgage payments, the monthly oil bill, house and life insurance payments, cable and telephone and so on.
The hard part about creating a budget is working out expenses that can be variable, like the grocery bill. We have a lot of food in the house right now so I think we can get by just buying the basics like milk, bread and some fresh veggies and fruit over the next two weeks, but after that our weekly grocery expenses will probably go up.
As it turns out, if we stick to the budget that I created, we should have money to spare at the end of the month. A nice chunk too – more than I thought we’d have!
One great thing about adding up your weekly or monthly expenses is that you can see where you waste money as well. Just before we bought our house in 2001 I kept track of every cent we spent – you know, stopping off at the corner store on your way home, buying a coffee each morning, buying lunch during the work week etc. At that time it turned out that we wasted a lot of money by not bringing lunch to work or buying a coffee in the morning and a soft drink or juice in the afternoon – not to mention buying the occasional chocolate bar, snack or magazine at the corner store on the way home from work. We changed our ways and stop spending money on little extras that we could bring from home or make at home and it saved us literally hundreds of dollars a month.
Do you make a monthly budget and try to stick to it? Are you successful at sticking to your budget or do you blow it most of the time?