Monday, January 28, 2008


I've been tinkering with my budget spreadsheet. Over the past four years or so I've amended this spreadsheet to come up with a format that I can manage. It serves as both my budget planner and for tracking my spending. What I've never done is add in/figure out percentages as part of all that. I know it's important though and seeing items of expenditure expressed in percentage terms can make things hit home a bit harder (a good thing). This was mostly prompted by my rent going up so I now know that my rent has gone up by about 6% and, as a fraction of my income that's just over a 1% increase.

I've expressed expenditure as percentage of take-home pay. The only items which are taken out of my gross salary are pension, health insurance and tax/PRSI. So, for January (including my expected outgoings up to the end of the month) things look like this:
Loan repayment: 19.45%
Rent: 18.59%
Visa: 12.53%
HSA: 1.78% (this is a cash plan to supplement health insurance)
Donation: 0.83%
Car savings: 5.93% (savings account to use for car repairs and tax)
Car insurance: 1.45%
Savings: 0%
AA: 0.59%
Counselling: 2.77%
Misc. (food etc.): 49.93%
Bills (esb, gas, phone): 3.96%
Bank charges: 0.81%

The amounts on visa refer generally to petrol, parking, bus tickets and, for this month, antibiotics I had to buy (and which I should get a part refund on from HSA). I also took cash out once - something I normally don't do and now can't remember why. I use my visa mostly for the convenience and it is paid off every month in full. Bills includes the landline phone in the house but I pay separately for credit for my mobile phone, usually topping up once a month or so. The amount for bills is put into an online saving account with high interest - all of these bills are actually paid by direct debit by our landlady and I then transfer my share to her. I put more or less the same amount in each month to make sure I have enough to cover bills as they come up and am slowly building up a bit of a reserve for emergencies. I did need to spend money on a new car battery this month but that is covered under misc. as I didn't take money out of my car account this time. Misc. also covers some money which I put into savings to hold it for a month until a charge comes through on my credit card for products I ordered from Innocent Oils - I'll transfer that money back into my current account to cover part of the cheque I write to pay the credit card bill this month. The bank charges were government stamp duty on a new cheque book and the annual charge on my ATM/laser card - I have a current account with no admin fees.

Observant people among you might notice that that all adds up to more than 100% - this is because I had some extra income this month, money my boss gave me for Christmas and that my sister sent me for Christmas as well. However, it's more realistic to express things as a percentage of my normal take-home pay. Ideally any extra income should go straight into savings or be used for bigger, one-off expenses so I need to try and stop fooling myself into thinking I've managed well, when in reality it may only be the extra money I had that month that kept me afloat.

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