By Moira September 13, 2019 In Finance

September Budget + Preparing for a Lean Month

Long time, no post! This has been one crazy summer. Working three jobs, applying for internships, prepping for my last semester of undergrad, training for a big race, and sometimes, very rarely, sleeping. In all that time I have definitely neglected my blog. But it’s a new month and a new semester, which means a new start! Back on the blog and on my budget reporting, plus my tips for preparing for a lean month!

Summer Budget Review

Total Income: $5,906.23
Total Expenses: $4,737.21
I’m pleasantly surprised at how well I stuck to my budget this summer. In June I was $171 under budget, July I was $10 over, and in August I was $1,007 under.

In June, I was pretty spot on my spending, and I had a new source of income. I brought in an additional $450 that month, and I put most of that into my savings accounts.

In July, I was just $10 over my budget, which I’m pretty okay with, but I had some pretty high expenses. I was working as many hours as I could at both jobs, so my gas expenses were at their highest in 2019. I also made the most in July than I have any other month, and saved the most.

August was a weird month. I left my primary income job at the start of the month, so I had one last pretty big paycheck come in from that. I also clocked the most hours yet at my second job. To top it off, I went on vacation for a week, so I didn’t actually spend too much money. I did put a lot towards my TJ Maxx card, which did creep up on me with some vacation & school clothes purchases. I did have some high expenses for Groceries & Gus, but I was prepurchasing a lot of items before getting into my last semester.

September Budget Plans

The next few months are going to be tight, for sure. Right now, I’m primarily living off of what I earned this summer and my savings. I’m working a few hours a week at my job, but not enough to cover my necessary spending. My gas expenses are going to increase since I’m going to be driving a lot between home and school. I’m still paying on my TJ Maxx card, paying for the gym, and my Adobe subscription every month, and trying to contribute some to savings.

I’ve been applying for internships in New York, which will be good and bad for my bank account. On the upside, I’m looking at bringing in around $1000 a month. On the downside, I’m looking at spending about half of that in transportation costs just to get to and from work if I get hired

How to Prepare for a Lean Month

Going back to school and having seriously cut my working hours means I need to really tighten my belt. I knew this was coming though, so I had time to prepare. If you’re looking at a lean month, here are some time to getting ahead of it:

  1. Review Your Spending
    The first step is always going to look at your budget. Where you spend the most and the least? Where are your major overs and unders? If you don’t have a budget, take a look at your last three months of spending to get an idea of where your money has been going.
  2. Cut Back the Extra
    Once you know where your money is been going, plan to make some cuts and limits for yourself for the lean month. Looking at your big spending areas, where can you cut a little bit? Maybe skipping the movie trips in favor of a Netflix night? Have drinks with friends at home? Taking advantage of the cooler fall weather and going for walks on date night?
  3. Start Saving
    If you know you’re going to owe a certain amount for your recurring expenses, start moving that money into your savings account before your lean month. Putting it away from your regular checking can keep it safe from accidental spending, and already earmarked. When it comes time to pay, you can either transfer it back to your checking, or set up an auto-pay process straight from the savings account.
  4. Pre-Purchase What You Can
    This may seem a little contradictory to my last point, but when you’re preparing for a lean month, purchase some necessities ahead of time. This is good for things like toiletries, pet supplies, and non-perishable foods. By having those on hand, you know you won’t have to worry about it when your account is running low during the lean month!

That closes out my September budget! I’m really happy to be back on the blog and really looking forward to sharing more of my personal finance journey with you. Especially with graduation and the end of my deferment period on the horizon! Plus, share your tips for lean months in the comments or on social media, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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