I've been a lot more disciplined in March, which has been very encouraging. I made a decision to try to exist without any non-essential spending, and although I didn't quite stick to it 100%, I spent a whole lot less than I've done for months. Any purchases I did make, were small and pretty inconsequential really, save for my new glasses, which I mentioned in a previous post.
By cutting out most of the non-essential spending, I've actually proved to myself that it can be done. In fact, I kind of managed to create a new mind set around getting on top of my finances, in that I've decided that until my finances are in order, I don't deserve any large treats that aren't absolutely essential.
Previously, my budget just wasn't working because I'd make allowances here and there to justify unnecessary expenditure and it just wasn't getting me anywhere, so at least I've had a mental breakthrough in this regard, and I didn't find it too difficult to more or less stick to either.
With regard to the budget, despite doing a bit of a back to basics budget, I still overspent in most areas this month, and spent in some that I didn't intend to spend in at all, but even taking these overspends into consideration, I'm relatively happy with progress.
The normal £400 food budget went over this month by £60. I'm not sure why this was, although March is one of the longer months of the year and I think it included an extra weekly shop. (i.e. 5 instead of 4 shops). The monthly budget for this category is staying at £400 going forward, but if I can come under even by a few pounds some months it will help.
I halved the Household budget this month to £50, but unfortunately couldn't stick to it and ended up over budget by £46. I think stocking up on bulk items that weren't absolutely essential accounted for most of this. I did also need to buy food and treats in readiness for our dog going to a sitter whilst we're away next week which would ordinarily come out of next month's budget. In any case, everything will get used over the coming months, it was just bought a little prematurely. In spite of this, I think halving this budget is potentially viable, so I'll be doing this every month from now on until my finances are completely under control.
I cut my personal budget to zero this month too (not including optician and dental costs). I didn't, however, stick to this either, as I bought two books on eBay, a plant, an inexpensive pair of earrings and a couple of other small things which took me £22 over budget. I think realistically, a zero personal budget isn't very sustainable, but I might reduce my personal budget by half to £25 per month from now on, just to allow for a few small treats to motivate me.
I cut the home budget to zero too this month and again didn't manage to stick to it. I was, however, only £5 over, so I think I could realistically reduce this budget drastically going forward, to something like £20, which will again help keep me motivated, by allowing for a couple of very small purchases to maintain our home.
LB's budget was slashed to zero too this month, as there was nothing she really needed and she still had plenty of her own money left over from her birthday and Christmas, so could buy things for herself if she wanted anything. I did treat her to a DVD from a CS, so this budget went over by just £1. I'm going to keep this budget at the same level as my personal one going forward, i.e. £25, but obviously if she really needs anything, I'll buy it.
The final area of the budget was Miscellaneous and I allowed £50 for this budget, but didn't manage to stay within it. In the end I was £33 over which was mainly due to buying and posting off a couple of gifts, plus various small expenditures, some of which weren't completely essential, but which all add up over the month. I could do better in this category, so I'm going to keep it at £50 for next month.
In all, I was pleased that I'd slashed my budgets, despite the overspends. I've read that it takes 3 months to form new habits and stick to new budgets, so I'm not expecting miracles of myself instantly. It's a process and any improvement I make from month to month is a positive. At least this month has demonstrated to me that I can reduce budgets and spending if I put my mind to it, and it's something that I've now committed to in the coming months. I'm trying to look on it as a challenge, rather than a chore, in order to help motivate me. Turning things around is a slow process, but I think I'm making progress. Baby steps as always.