September 2014 Budget & Goals

September 3, 2014


August was a great month for my finances. I made a little freelance income, got my pension transferred over, managed to do some travelling… and I didn’t go over budget! This month’s budget, on the other hand, is equal parts stressing me out and motivating me to save money wherever possible.

I knew September would be crazy, but the percentages of just how crazy it could be are a little scary. I guess that’s what happens when you go to three different cities and two different weddings, right? Anyway, there’s no point prolonging the inevitable – let’s just dive in.

Living Expenses – Budget: 60%

My regular living expenses (rent, insurance policies, gas, etc.) all look normal, but there are a few reasons why I may have to spend up to 60% of my income on this overarching category: weddings. I’m going to two weddings this month, for which I will need to buy/bring two gifts. I also still need one outfit to wear to them both, which needs to be purchased this week (and is on the approved shopping list), since the first one is on Saturday. Besides that, I also need to renew my car insurance before the 27th, so we’ll see if it goes down at all; it should, since I am no longer driving to work anymore (I gave up my desk at my coworking space last month), but I’ll keep you posted.

Travel – Budget: 35%

Holy jeez, travel expenses! This month, I’m spending 7 days in Toronto (I’m here right now until the 7th), then 4 days in Portland and 5 days in New Orleans. I’m so excited about each trip, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about how expensive they would be. After seeing how much I spent on just food in Edmonton, I decided to grossly overestimate the cost of my trips to both Portland and New Orleans. I’d much rather try to pinch a few pennies and come home with leftover cash in my pocket, than come up with some small unattainable number and go over budget. I’d like to get this category of my budget down to 30%, but we’ll have to see what comes up when I’m in each city.

Savings – Budget: 5%

Finally, I am obviously not at all happy with this goal but, based on the numbers and information above, I don’t really see how I can save more than this. Now, in saying that, this is the reason I’m going to try and lower my costs elsewhere! I’m also hoping to earn some freelance income this month, simply so I can put it into savings. Once we move into October, my last three budgets of the year should see savings goals of 25-35%. I just need to get through this crazy month of travel and weddings, first…

Goals for this month:

  • Read 2 books (I’m already almost done 1, so this should be easy)
  • Workout 10x
  • Remove 15+ items from home
  • Soak up my time in Portland and New Orleans
  • Do some extra freelance and put the cash directly into savings!

What do you have planned this month?

  • Gretchen September 3, 2014 at 4:36 am

    It sounds like you’re going to have a busy month! Expensive, but really fun! And really, living on 60% is nothing to be ashamed of :-)

    • Cait Flanders September 4, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      Thanks, Gretchen!

  • Charlotte September 3, 2014 at 4:53 am

    Oh wow, looks like your September will be crazy but FUN! If you’re able to come under budget and allocate more money to savings, that’s great, but otherwise, try not to sweat it too much. You’re doing great, Cait!

    • Cait Flanders September 4, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Thanks, Charlotte!

  • Andrea September 3, 2014 at 4:54 am

    oh Cait – I feel your pain. Currently in the UK, I’ve had family and friends visiting since July (not the same people for 2 months, but different individuals over the course of 8 weeks). I’ve been very strict with doing touristy things with them (“Here’s an underground map, folks, go explore. I gotsta work and I’ll meet you for dinner.”) and trying to curb my spending. But even with the few things I have done, I feel like my wallet is hemorrhaging money. I love having people visit me but it’s been brutal!

    I’ve got one more week of visitors and then the purse strings are tightening, if not crazy-gluing the wallet closed and getting back on tract of being debt free by the time I leave London!

    • Cait Flanders September 4, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Oh man, sounds busy busy, Andrea! I think I asked you this once before, but how long are you there for?

      • Andrea September 5, 2014 at 4:06 am

        you did – I thought I ‘d replied. apologies if I hadn’t. I’m here until September 2015, possible longer if a job opportunity show up after I finish my degree. Trying to enjoy as much as I can about living in London without getting more debt. Like most things in life that are worth it, it’s a struggle but I’m working on finding a balance!


        • Cait Flanders September 5, 2014 at 7:19 am

          Ahhh yes, you might’ve said that somewhere – I just forgot! It’s crazy how having a potential deadline changes your perspective on living in a city, to where you just want to soak up every minute of it. So, make a bucket list, enjoy each day and just see where the future takes you. :)

  • Colleen September 3, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Crazy/super fun month! I love that despite the bit of stress this is causing you, you’re also using it as motivation to save where you can. That’s definitely something I need to start doing!

    Take whatever you think you might spend on food in Portland and multiply it. The food is SO GOOD. Like, the best. Eat as much as you can. I’m jealous!

    • Cait Flanders September 4, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Well, 5% just makes me sad! I’d at least like to put 10% in the bank… but we’ll see where I can cut back, to make it happen!

      And duly noted, haha.

  • Alicia September 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Whoa, what a September! Your life always seems so much busier than mine! I’m tired just hearing about it (yes I know that’s how you like it… my natural life pace is a little slower it seems).

    September might get a little interesting for me. But more to come on that at a later date.

    Enjoy the weddings and travel :)

    • Cait Flanders September 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      Hmm, I will admit I’m pretty anxious to get home on Sunday night (technically Monday at 1am). I’m only there for 4 days/5 nights, but I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed, eat some homemade salads and… do laundry! lol

      Excited to hear more about what September may hold for you, Alicia!

  • Rob September 3, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Well Cait, the fact that you have 2 weddings to go to this month and yet still plan to set aside some small amount for savings is more than many others out there could manage so you shouldn’t be too unhappy about it, given that you will still manage to be on the positive side of the ledger.

    As to your other budgeted expenses for the month, when renewing your car insurance you may wish to consider arranging for regular monthly deducted premiums, rather than pay one lump sum yearly premium. This is what I do. Yes, it does result in a little extra expense in processing charges tacked on but I find it easier to regularly budget for this each month as a fixed steady expense. In fact, over the years I have done this with all my insurance expenses (life, car, rent, mortgage, etc). This has resulted in most of my monthly expenses being always the same (and thus easier to budget for), leaving fewer variable unforeseen expenses to contend with. It’s a personal preference of mine but everyone to their own preference.

    • Cait Flanders September 4, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      I do pay my car insurance monthly; it’s more expensive, as you said, but easier to budget for. And, like you, I do this with all my insurance policies!

  • Cee @ Debt Sux September 3, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Insurance and gifts probably come after death and taxes on the “certain list”. :-) Somebody advised me to create an escrow fund for them, so I did. It was a delight to use it for the semi-annual payment.

    Sounds like a very fun September for you. Enjoy Portland, and if you’d like to spend $2-3 on a donut, please try Blue Star (not Voodoo!). :-) You know PDX has no sales tax, right?

    • Cait Flanders September 4, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      I do know that! But I’m not allowed to shop, haha. Will keep the donut shop in mind, though. Have been told by a few people to avoid Voodoo. Thanks!

  • Nadia September 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Enjoy your trips.

    September will be interesting. First month with new benefits and the raise but paying off my glasses. Hopefully I’ll get back on track to get my first student loan paid off.

    • Cait Flanders September 4, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      I’m sure you will, Nadia! You’re self aware and know what your goals are – so you’ll get after them. :)

  • Bridget September 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Looks good to me! Interesting that you lump gifts into “living expenses” but I like the approach of having less budget buckets to worry about.

    Still so jealous of your travel budget ;)

    • Cait Flanders September 4, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      Well, I put all gifts under there… and it’s part of “life”! (“Living” isn’t necessarily about housing, eating, etc. it’s just regular life stuff.)

      You can be jealous, but I’m anxious to see it go down next month! lol

  • Money Pincher September 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    I have a wedding to go to this month :( and I’ll be paying $500 as gift :( so that will blow my budget quite a bit

    • Cait Flanders September 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Whoa, that’s a very generous gift! Family?

  • Aleksandra Sagan September 8, 2014 at 7:00 am

    I hear you on weddings being expensive – even if you’re going as a guest and not hosting the actual event.

    I have one wedding to go to this month – and, while luckily it’s in town, it is still going to cost us a few extra expenses on our monthly budget in terms of a gift, an outfit, a cab home, etc.

    I love being a wedding guest and celebrating my friends’ special days, but it can get costly!