2010 Tweaks To My Monthly Budget

I just updated my Budget page to reflect assorted changes to my lifestyle over the past few months. Overall, my monthly expenses are down $140, which sadly does not reflect some fairly significant cuts I’ve made.

THE CUTBACKS

$90 – I no longer have a cleaning lady. After going through the bedbug nightmare, where I had to wipe down everything in alcohol and pack it up, and then vacuum twice a day for 3 weeks AND sterilize the vacuum’s bagless compartment after each use…well, cleaning up after myself just didn’t seem so daunting. Plus, she was missing a lot of stuff completely. Annual savings: $1170.

$100 – My take-out/restaurant budget has been scaled back from $250 to $150 a month. Bear in mind that I visit my mother once a month and pick up the tab for a meal, which ranges $25-50. Take-out 3x a week instead of almost daily for a weekly savings of $20. And the rest is for odd bits and pieces, like a snack or a can of iced tea on the go. Annual savings: $1200.

$50 – I’ve reduced my monthly grocery budget from $150 to $100. This time last year, I wasn’t into supermarket couponing because supermarkets in Manhattan just suck. But now I go out of my way to stock up in NJ – when I visit my mom, or by taking mass transit across the river for exceptional deals, or by mailing coupons to Dani when she’s able and willing to help me out. Annual savings: $600.

$65 – Utilities are down. When my cable/phone/internet bill leaped up from $134 to $148 for no reason I could discern, I called up and asked about shutting down my landline. It turns out that most of the nonsense fees, charges, taxes, etc. are associated with the telephone, so what I thought would be a savings of about $30 turned out to be $65. Shame on me for not doing this sooner. Annual savings:  $780.

Gross Annual Savings:  $3750

THE NEW EXPENSES

$100 for Advertising – In June 2009, Craigslist started charging $5 per post to place an ad on the Therapeutic Services page. I’m still incredibly pissed, because it puts a once-daily ad out of the reach of people like me. Spas have multiple treatment rooms and slave labor (well, the ones that advertise on Craigslist), and prostitutes are obviously getting more moulah per client than I am. Sadly, that’s the case for most paid advertising options. I am hoping to cut back on my paid postings and redirect the funds to other advertising venues, but I’m not sure how feasible that will be. Annual expense: $1200.

$40 for Weight Watchers – This monthly expense replaces my $600/year gym membership that I just wasn’t using. Plus, I’ve been through the ups and downs of weight loss often enough to know that for girls, it’s WAY more about food than exercise. Weight Watchers is about dealing with food, so here we go. Annual expense: $480.

Gross New Annual Expenses:  $1680

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6 Responses

  1. You are my hero!

  2. I also find that it’s about the food more than the exercise when it comes to watching my weight. And I didn’t know Craigslist is now charging for certain ads. But I think you’ve done a great job of cutting your old expenses to make room for the new ones.

  3. Good job on finding ways to trim your budget. I just went over mine today and could only find $15 to trim. Grrrrr.

  4. I’m interested to see how WW goes for you. Sounds like a lot of work.

    As for advertising, I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I, as a consumer, was actually trying to find a practitioner a lot like you. But I have no way to tell who is a hooker and who is, well, you.

    You have the same problem, I guess. There has got to be a better way to advertise. There just has to be!

  5. The nice thing about WW is that you won’t have the expense forever; once you go lifetime, it’s free as long as you maintain. Of course, i still pay $10 / month to use their points tracker, but I could weigh myself in a meetings for free all week if I felt like it. Oh and it works – I lost ~ 30 pounds in ~ 7 months. Congrats to getting the ball rolling on that and best of luck with your meetings!

  6. Great Job! I challenged myself with the same task for the year and was able to trim $2780!

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