March Budget – We Have a Problem Here

I sat down to do our budget last night and realized that March’s budget is horrible.  While we earned $4,256.35 for March expenses our checking account is exactly $300 short that amount.  Why?  My husband and I looked hard at our budget and realized Japanese preschool for my daughter cannot happen this year.  Maybe we could afford it, but only at the expense of aggressive debt reduction and any savings.  At my age, I am no longer willing to live in the here and now and set aside improving my financial situation for later.  Instead, she will go to preschool 3 mornings a week at the parochial school my son attends.  That is much more affordable for us.  However, to reserve her spot for next year, we had to pay a $300 deposit.

As if starting the month $300 short is not bad enough, we have had several other expenses:

Husband’s conference–$1200.  We will be travelling out of state for my husband’s conference in March.  Almost all of this expense will be reimbursed later.   In the past, we would have simply charged this expense and paid it off after we got the reimbursement.  However, now that our credit cards are in peanut butter and we have vowed not to take on new debt, that isn’t an option.

Son’s summer school deposit–$300.  My son will be attending the Japanese summer program this summer, so a deposit is required.  However, this deposit will be applied to his tuition, so it will be $300 less we will have to pay this summer.

Car repair–$586.  Just this week, the check engine light kept coming on sporadically.  I brought it to the shop on Wednesday, and they said it has a fuel injector sensor that is no longer working.  That is one expensive sensor to repair.

CSA Shares–518.50.  As part of our plan to lower our overall grocery bill while eating healthy, organic foods, my husband and I decided to get a CSA share.  We will be getting fresh, organic produce from a farm near us for 20 weeks.  The rate is $490.  We also opted for a one time winter delivery that will have enough root vegetables to last us through the winter.  That was another $120.  To get a 15% discount, we had to pay by March 1st.  Paying early brought our total from $610 to $518.50.

How We Plan to Handle Our Budget

Most of these expenses, save the car, will save us money in the summer.  My husband’s conference expenses will be reimbursed, the CSA will save us money on groceries this summer, and my son’s deposit will be used to pay part of his summer tuition later in the summer.  However, it is painful to pay all of this money upfront.

In the old days, we would just charge it.  Now we don’t.  We do have a small emergency fund, but we don’t plan to tap that either, because none of these expenses represent an emergency.

So, what will we do?

Thanks to gazelle intensity, we know we can raise money when necessary.  Here are some of the ways we plan to raise extra money:

  • I should get back about $300 in flexible spending money from paying the babysitter.
  • Some of my freelance jobs offer me a range of work.  For instance, one blogger gives me the window of writing 4 to 8 posts a month.  Usually I write 4, but in March, I will try to write 8 instead.  I have several jobs like this, so with hard work this month, I can recoup quite a bit of this money.
  • My husband has considered donating plasma.  I used to do this in grad school.  Now, my husband is willing to take one for the team, so to speak, and do this to raise extra money.
  • Get rid of stuff we don’t use.  I have some more kids’ clothes to sell as well as baby gates and other baby gear.  Now is a good time to sell them.

I’ll be back early next week with our budget.  First, I need to figure out how to make the numbers work.  🙂

How do you handle budget shortfalls?


  1. I hope everything works out!

  2. Sounds like you have a great plan in place to make up for the negatives in your budget this month. That’s true that it’s not a great way to start the month but a really awesome way of handling it! Good luck!

  3. That’s great that you’re finding a way to make it work. I still think it’s crazy that your husband’s employer makes him pay that much money up front. I guess I’m lucky I have a company credit card

    • Melissa says:

      I think that comes with the territory until he is employed as a full-time faculty member. Even then, he will probably pay up front and be reimbursed.

  4. I am so proud of you both! You are finding creative solutions to your money problems.

  5. I’m sure you can make it up with your freelance work. If I fall short in a month, my wife and I go on a strict budget the next month to make up for it. I’ve never missed my budget 2 months in a row.

  6. My heart dropped when I saw the $500 you spent on your car repair – my check engine light came on this morning, and I’m dreading the trip to the repair shop!

  7. We pull from our general savings account – more or less an E-fund. It’s nice you have some income streams you can intensify this month to make up some of the cash.

    We have had to spend around $1k up front for a conference too, and reimbursement takes forever! Our savings was just a bit light for those couple months.

    The expenses of the car and CSA (and several others) we have short-term targeted savings accounts for, so we’re specifically saving over 12 months for the once- or twice-yearly expenditures in those categories. We definitely don’t have room to accommodate an extra $500 or $1000 expense in our budget so we try to anticipate everything we can. Not sure if that system would work in your situation?

    • We used to have different small savings accounts for things like clothes, car repairs, etc., but we stopped last year when our income was less than our living expenses. Now, I am trying to slowly get back into that habit, but this month took us by storm, erasing our progress. I will try to do it again when we are back on track, probably in April or May.

  8. It is good to see you were able to find a way to make up your budget shortfall and not just charge it. Maybe next month you will have unexpected income rather than unexpected expenses.

  9. We usually try to slash spending in the grocery, household area. I get paid hourly and can work as much as I want, so I also try to work more each week.

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