I have been struggling with the budget, as many of you know.  What I really struggle with is keeping track of every single penny that leaves our hands.  However, I have recently discovered a new tool which I think will help with this.  (I’ll share more about that in a few days.)

I had been trying to budget from the 15th of the month to the 15th of the next month, but that isn’t working for me.  Many of our bills come due around the 1st, so it is just easier for me to go back to the traditional monthly budget.  Here is the plan:

January 2011
Laundry 40 (I have been air drying our clothes so we don’t have to pay for the coin operated dryer, but I am going to try cloth diapering again, so that will cost us more for the coin operated washing machine)
Rent 1000
Groceries 200 (I reduced this from our usual $350 to $400 because I am having a pantry challenge through February 15th)
Toiletries & Diapers 75 (new category I created this month so my grocery budget would actually reflect groceries, not diapers)
ComEd 40
AT & T 28
Comcast 82
Son’s school 548
Son’s after school language program 140
Son’s dance class 48
Misc. 50
Gas/Transportation 100
Restaurant & Entertainment 100
Student Loan 192
Life insurance 77
Husband’s spending money 25
My spending money 25
Weight Watchers 40
Tithes Private
TOTAL $2810

We are now officially without my income.  I *think* my husband should bring home about $1750 a month starting January 16th, but I won’t know until then.  That leaves me with a -$1060 in my budget. 

However, I have some gift cards that I bought from my son’s school during the year, and I plan to use them this month.  (We buy the gift cards at school and get a certain % cash back depending on the company we buy from.  The cash back that we get can be used toward the last month’s tuition.)  We have $69 in gas cards, $167 in Jewel and Dominick’s gift cards, and a $25 in Noodles & Company gift card.  Once I subtract the gift cards, we are -$799.

In anticipation of my loss of income, I have saved the following from October until now:

360.39 – refund from son’s old school
130.10 – payment for article writing
125.00 – payment for book review
200.00 – saved from my November pantry challenge
060.49 – payment for article writing
035.49 – payment for article writing
070.00 – short month at son’s language school; only had to pay for half the month, saved the difference
981.47 Total saved for January

So, we have enough for this month and $82.47 to get us started for next month.  Now, I just need to keep working to get more writing jobs and hope that my husband gets some tutoring jobs that he has been advertising.  We do have several months in savings, but I want to do everything I can to avoid dipping into that money.

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