Thursday, October 3, 2013

Looking Ahead: 2014 Budget

I get excited about budgets. That's right - nerd alert! Or should I say financially-savvy-person alert! Budgets are fun. Say it with me - BUDGETS ARE FUN!

Mainly, creating my 2014 budget this many months before 2014 is fun for me because I will be debt free in 2014! For reference, here is my 2013 budget:

2013 Budget

And now here is my new (tentative) 2014 budget:

2014 Budget Draft

First good thing: less expenses. Second good thing: check out the leftover each month line at the bottom. $603.69!!! That's so much money! Now, having that much money leftover means I have options on what to do with it. So what should I do? That leaves a lot of questions. But first, let's name what I should NOT do with it.

1. Do not spend it on crap I don't need.

That's basically the only rule here. For reference on what I should do with the money, let's look at my financial goals. I've written about that already here and here. In summary, the following sticks out:

1. I want to build my emergency fund.
2. I want to contribute more to retirement.

So, that is exactly what I am going to do. Once my debt is gone I'll adjust my pre-tax contribution to my 403b, maximizing tax savings by contributing to this tax-deferred account. I think I'll leave my Roth alone for now. It is happily making money on its own. Then, I'll take whatever the new "leftover each month" amount is and determine how much I can put towards my emergency fund each month. I expect it to be around $150-200.

You'll notice in my budget that I decided not to quit waiting tables entirely once my debt is gone. I intend to keep a shift a week and use that income to pay for food and possibly for the occasional dinner out. $60/month is a really hard budget to stick to for restaurants and happy hour. I'll gladly spend a few hours a week waitressing (which I usually enjoy, actually) so I can have a little bit more of "fun" money when it comes to hanging out with some friends over happy hour.

How exciting that I'm actually talking about what I will do, in real terms, once my debt is gone! That means the day I am debt free is almost here!

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