Net Worth Change from Previous Month: +10.7%
Total Spent: $1,152
December wasn't great for spending, thanks to Christmas gifts ($510), but it wasn't terrible, all things considered. I tried really hard not to overbuy, and actually felt like I did a good job, but I guess it wasn't quite as trim as I'd thought it was. We'll see how I can fix that for 2016. I also spent about $200 on registering for the GRE (to take it in a month! Yikes!) and about $100 on vaccines for Virginia Woolf. I got a haircut at Supercuts for $25, and I actually kept my food budget to a normal $150, which I'm really proud of. Our trip to Vermont cost about $125 for gas, eating out, and the few things we bought while we stayed with friends. Overall, other than going a little crazy on the gifts, it wasn't too bad of a month.
And, for making money, it was a banner month. I've never made so much in one month before and it will probably be some time before I do again. I worked my butt off with freelancing, so I'm pretty proud that I saved up a pretty big portion of what I made. I put aside a third of it for taxes, and the rest went to finishing saving for our trip to India, and starting to really put something aside for our emergency fund. As a result, my net worth went way up, and it's been really nice to have some money in SmartyPig that I know won't go anywhere, even if the market is up and down.
I "used" that money to pay down the categories that I'd refreshed once or twice, which still show up as red in my "all time" view on Mint.com's budgets. I eliminated both "Food" and "Home" and it feels to start over at $0 for 2016 and know that everything I budget from here on out is real. I stupidly did not "roll over" my tax and pet budgets into the next month (the way I use Mint to plan ahead), so when I make those big payments/purchases, I'll have to mark them as having happened in the past to keep it all clean. Silly mistake, and annoying, but Mint doesn't let you go back once a month is over.
For January, and maybe for all of 2016, I'm taking a new approach to the cash budget. I'm going to take out $75 each week, instead of $300 each month. It's just too easy to blast through all my cash at the beginning of the month, and then too tempting to take out more or use my credit card after that. This has been a good month as far as income goes, but it's back to normal in 2016, so I want to get back on track.
How's your budget going? Did you meet any exciting goals this month? Any resolutions for money in 2016?
If you'd like to see how my 2015 budget overall compared to my 2014, it's a huge difference! Click below if you're interested.
In 2014, I didn't think at all about money. I had gotten a pretty big stipend from graduate school the year before, and was still in the mindset that I could spend what I wanted because I was working hard. It wasn't pretty. I made about $8,500 that year, but spend almost $10k more than that: $17,000. Look at all that red. I didn't stick to a single budget I'd made that year, and more than doubled quite a few of them. Yikes.
A lot of it was spent on travel and some on moving, and I wouldn't change those experiences for the world, but in 2015, it was time to get a handle on things, and I'm really glad to say that I actually did! I made almost $29,500 and spent just over $14,000. With taxes, that will go up to about $18k, but it still means I saved up almost as much as I spent the year before. I'm more or less on even ground now, and it feels amazing. Here's hoping that in 2016, I can build even more on that, and spend even less than $14,000!
Here's hoping for another great fiscal year in 2016! Good luck with your finances, friends!