September marks the beginning of my third month on my new budget.

When I started this adventure two months ago, our marital spats about money had reached epic proportions. We had just spent the first half of the year remodeling our home, and while we had saved for our remodel for more than three years, done much of the work ourselves, and shopped around as much as possible to get good deals wherever we could, we still found that everything cost more and took longer than we anticipated. Remodeling is expensive!

By June, my husband, by nature a thrifty and money-savvy guy, just couldn’t take any more spending. It didn’t matter to him that the house wasn’t done yet, that though the large projects were mostly complete, there were about a billion details left to finish. I, by nature, just like things to be pretty. And finished. So I kept spending. He would get mad, and then I would get mad back, and the cycle just got worse and worse.

We realized that for the sake of our family, something had to give.

Which brings us to our current solution:  separate bank accounts. Out of his account we pay all of our fixed expenses–the mortgage, insurance, & utilities. Then every month, he deposits a set amount into my account, out of which I pay the rest of our expenses–groceries, gas, activities, clothing, etc. The deal was that I could spend it however I pleased, but when I had spent it all, that was it, even if that meant eating nothing but PB&J for the rest of the month. But he promised not to comment and to eat said PB&J without complaint.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t know how I was going to possibly live on a budget. I really like to shop. I mean, I really, really like to shop! One of my favorite book series are Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic books because I SO relate to the feeling of elation the heroine feels when buying something. Anything. When we moved back to Florida from Seattle last year, I left behind an amazing group of mom friends and a life I loved. Our Florida friends from before were still our friends, but we now had 2 small children and not a lot in common anymore. I missed my social network and for me shopping was the only way to fill the void.

And yet now, only 2 months into it, I have been amazed to discover that not only can I live on a budget, I actually enjoy it! I like the challenge of finding good deals. I like how much more creative I am when I try to get what I want for less money. I like knowing that my marriage is stronger because my husband truly appreciates how hard I am trying. And I especially like that in only 2 months, I have not only been able to stay within my budget without feeling like I have sacrificed our standard of living at all, I have also managed to save $1,137.89 on my own.

So here is how I did for August (over budget categories are in red; under budget in green):

Groceries:  budgeted $500.00, spent $516.90
(my grocery budget is still significantly higher than I would like it to be because I have been working on creating a stockpile, but still quite an improvement over the $1000+ a month I was spending just a few short months ago!)
Eating Out:  budgeted $100.00, spent $145.90
(this was a hard category for us this month. sharing a car means I often have to pick C. up from work right at dinnertime. sometimes he’s not ready, which means a quick stop to McDonalds.)
Gas: budgeted $200.00, spent 209.49
(this is my most annoying expense!)
Date Night:  budgeted $75.00, spent $0.00
(we really need to try harder to spend this one!)
Kids’ Activities & Crafts:  budgeted $150.00, spent $124.16
Home Decor & Organizing: budgeted $100.00, spent $49.02
Clothing: budgeted $150.00, spent $28.33
Gifts: budgeted $100.00, spent $100.93
Entertaining & Parties: budgeted $150.00, spent $171.46
(M.’s party was a lot of this expense; we also had friends over a couple of times. Beer & wine goes into this category as well.)
Babysitting: budgeted $150.00, spent $116.00
Health & Fitness: budgeted $50.00, spent $15.99
Starbucks:  budgeted $25.00, spent $9.70
Beauty: budgeted $50.00, spent $0.00
Misc.: budgeted $50.00, spent $71.58
Total amount spent: $1,559.46
Total amount saved (from coupons, deals, & discounts): $2,376.67
Savings Goal: $150.00
Actual Money into Savings: $494.49

For September, I have adjusted a few of my budget categories. My stockpile pantry is now pretty full, so I would like to start lowering my monthly grocery bill even more. I haven’t quite figured out a good way to save on gas yet. Hopefully it will be another savings-filled month.

Happy Savings!

I love to receive comments! Tell me, how did you do on your budget and/or savings this month?