Budget Review: August 2020

I already wrote about spending during the summer holidays (June and July) so this post covers August. My plan is to look at September in the coming two weeks, then that ties up quarter three.

It is completely obvious to me that I am behind in my budgeting – that’s one of the reasons why it’s taking me so long to prepare and post my monthly budgets. There is definitely something where the thinking about FIRE and feeling like I am On A Path means that I don’t actually need to do anything else. I wrote at the start of this blog about being Fake Frugal and I am sorry to say that I am definitely still in that place.

I *do* reuse teabags – but I also spend on my kids extra-curricular activities without thinking twice. Image credit: Ray Massey | Getty Images

Looking at my numbers for August, I was justifying all the overspends. Oh – it was my birthday! Oh – it was my best friend’s 40th and a rare peaceful moment during COVID so I flew to the UK. Oh – my daughter made the swimming team so I had to pay the fees. I spent HOW MUCH? Oh dear…

 Monthly Plan Actual
Charity £                   30.00 £                           83.15
Insurance & utilities £                277.00 £                         914.22
Childcare £             1,000.00 £                     1,000.00
Groceries £                300.00 £                         546.92
Holidays £                300.00 £                     1,960.52
Transport  £                300.00 £                         307.71
Entertainment £                200.00 £                           81.91
Eating out £                175.00 £                         328.98
Rent  £             1,500.00 £                  1,500.00
Family  £                         586.67
Personal care  £                         117.53
Shopping  £                           16.57
Clothes  £                           60.50
 TOTAL £                 4,082.00 £                     7,504.68
OH MY DAYS WHAT DID I DO? August spends.

What are the lessons here?

Stay courageous: I almost didn’t share this budget because I spent almost double my already healthy budget. But what’s the point in making it all look easy when it isn’t?

Stay grateful: I wrote last week about gratitude and first off, I am grateful that I have the income where I can do this and not be in debt. But I need to also stay grateful and focused about what else I have planned for my life – early retirement, more time with the kids, and not working a job to pay for things I am only barely aware of.

Work with what is real not what you wish is real: The old phrase ‘champagne tastes, beer budget applies to me, but Denmark costs, UK budget. An example is that I’ve worked really hard on grocery spends – shopping in budget supermarkets, meal planning, cooking from scratch, and going in with a list – but I can’t get it down to my original budget. Whilst I could probably tweak it some more, I don’t think it’s going to be at  £300. I make packed lunches for all of us five days per week, and this saves eating out money but eats into (see what I did there?!) grocery spends. Ditto on utilities – I thought this was based on the real costs but there have been a couple of things which were news to me during our first year. If I am not working to a realistic budget then there is no way I can even try to succeed. So it becomes an exercise in futility.     

Action has to follow intention – regular, conscious action: I have known for a while that I need to spend some time setting up all my spreadsheets so that they are meshed together. Where I have money budgeted monthly but to be spread out over the year (e.g. I pay my car insurance annually but budget monthly) including holidays, I can’t tell at this point if I have stuck to the budget (clue: probably not).

So – on we go. Better to be honest and look it in the eye than write nice posts about intentionality without tackling the basics! As we head into the last quarter of the year, I need to look at the budget again, particularly annual costs and things like putting ceilings on kids’ extracurricular activities. Aluta continua!