September Budget Recap

It’s October 2, so it’s time for the recap of September’s budget.

Everything went as expected. I went over in my discretionary spending a bit ($63.32 to be exact), but I’m letting it slide since I was on vacation the end of the month. Acadia/Bar Harbor for the win!!

Here’s a snapshot of my discretionary spending:

September budget

October will be the first month I’m getting to take advantage of a bit of my raise. Because remember: I always live on last month’s income. I got my raise half way through September, so this month, October, I’m living on one “old” paycheck, and one “new” paycheck. Come November, I’ll be living on October’s income, so it will be the first month I get to live on 2 “new” paychecks. Woot!! I’ll re-post my official budget categories and numbers the beginning of November.

This month, taking my new raise and last month’s discretionary spending deficit, I’ll be starting with a “cushion” of $253. This is above and beyond my rent, phone bill, Netflix, Audible, etc. It needs to cover gas, and anything beyond my normal day to day groceries and maybe a small meal out. I’m going yarn shopping today with a friend, so it might take a hit pretty early on!

Once I’m living on my full “new” paycheck (i.e. November), I’ll have a discretionary “cushion” of about $400. Part of me thinks that’s a huge number, and part of me is like “oh shit”. The oh shit comes in because really, I can’t go over that. Because this is going to be my income for the foreseeable future. I’m not just holding on until something better comes along. This is my something better. Which means I can’t be dipping into my savings accounts for stuff willy nilly. In fact, I need to now be building my savings account back up. Because right now I only have $2800 in my checking account. And (coincidentally) the same amount in my savings account. That’s no very much. I obviously have much more in my long term savings accounts and retirement accounts, but that doesn’t really count. So, here’s to playing it safe and keeping an eye on the money!


September Budget Check-In

As I mentioned last week and since I got my raise, I’m going to be much more strict with my budget going forward. My intention is to post here twice a month about my spending and budgeting: once at the beginning of each month, recapping the previous month and talking about the upcoming month, and then once mid-month, giving a progress report.

My favorite budgeting software/service is Mvelopes. Unfortunately, they don’t have the best reports and pretty pie charts. Alas. I’ll have to make due. Also, in these mid-month check-ins, I’ll only go over my “cushion” envelope, since that’s really the only discretionary funds I have. We can all just assume I’m in-budget for everything else: rent, cell phone, etc.

So, since it is now the middle of September, here’s how my discretionary spending for the month looks so far. Remember – this is in addition to the $100 in cash I take out every week for my day to day expenses – groceries, eating out, etc.

September Budget

* For some reason, Connecticut calls their liquor stores “package stores”. I don’t know why. I just go with it. If I’m feeling particularly white trash, I call it a “packy”. (I understand this is a racial slur for Pakistani people. I’m sorry if I offend anyone.)
** I don’t keep coins in my wallet. Mostly because they are bulky and heavy, but also because it provides me with a little free money every month if I set them aside. I have a change purse in my car, and when I buy something with cash and get coins back, I just hold them in my hand until I get back to my car, then dump them into the change purse. Every three months or so I bring the coins to my bank, shove them into the coin counter, and get about $30. It’s like free money! I realize it’s not actually free money, but to me it feels like it.

As you can see, I’ve spent more than half of my budget for the month – whoops! But that’s okay. I’ve got a tight grip on the reigns for the next two weeks. Come October I’ll have a bit more breathing room, and November brings all kinds of new money to spend! Because again, I always live off last month’s income. So, I’m living off of August’s income for the month of September. Since my raise takes effect halfway through September, in October I’ll have one paycheck of my “old” income, and one of my “new” – a half step up, if you will. Then, come November, I’ll be living off October’s income, which will be the first full month of my new income. Woot! Don’t worry – I didn’t actually expect you to follow that.



Couch to 5K – Week 2

This is week 2 of my walk-to-run program. Here’s the breakdown:

Warm-up: 10 minutes
Workout: [2 minute run, 2 minute walk] – repeat 3 times
Cool-down: 10 minutes

Here’s my stats for today’s run:


I’m quite happy with these! My heart rate stayed under 170 the whole time, and my pace for the 2 minute runs was good. If I can keep within a minute of that pace once the runs start getting longer, I’ll be stoked!

And, regardless of the paces, it just felt so good to be out in the morning before work! It just felt…right. To have my runners on, my iPod shuffle clipped to my waistband, my hair in a tucked-under-ponytail, and a headband on. Woot!

For my second workout of the day, I did a rail trail ride with my frequent riding partner, Jon. He finally got a real road bike, so we were able to push the pace a bit more than usual, which made me supremely happy. Sorry Jon, but maybe I’ll now be able to get an actual workout on our rail trail rides!


I used my new Garmin Forerunner 620 for both workouts. I think I’m finally starting to like the watch. The touch screen was pissing me off royally, but I’m pretty sure I figured out the tricks to it. I have the Forerunner 220 coming in the mail tomorrow, so we’ll see how I like it. I’ll probably keep the 620, but I like to have options! If only the 620 was a “funner” color. Le sigh…

Oh, and my VO2 max, according to my watch, is 41. Which, according to this chart, is somewhere between good and excellent (but leaning toward excellent!). Not too shabby!


My Monthly Budget

As I announced (ahem, screamed from the rooftops!) the other day, I got a raise! And you know what that means, right? Budget revision!

I know – you’re just as excited as I am, aren’t you?

Going forward, here’s what my monthly budget will look like:


I love Excel, don’t you?! But I digress…

I use Mvelopes as my budgeting software, and I love, love, love it to pieces. If you’re interested in trying it out, I say go for it. And it’s free. They do offer a paid version, but you don’t need it. I promise.

I love the feeling of having $400 a month to “play” with. Much more comfortable than the $200 I had available before. I’m going to much more strict with myself though, with this budget. For the past year or three, I’ve allowed myself to dip into my savings account to buy myself treats. Like 2 new bicycles this year. Or vacation money. Or what-have-you. Which is totally fine, because I wasn’t making enough to cover those treats, but I had saved plenty previously. And that’s what savings are for!* But now, my darlings, it’s time to be disciplined.

I’m going to use this blog as a check-in, and post my spending regularly. At least on a monthly basis, but hopefully more than that. And I have my Mvelopes app on my phone, and will be much more diligent about checking it, especially that “discretionary” envelope!

My first paycheck with my increased pay will hit my checking account a week from Thursday. Once it does I’ll be able to double check my FICA calculations. November will be the first month I’m technically working with my full raise amount (because I always live off the previous month’s income), but I don’t feel like going into that now!

Right now, I’m just breathing a little more easily when I look at my budget. And steeling my resolve to stay within my means.

* I did NOT, however, dip into my retirement savings or mid-term savings. I stuck to my short-term savings. Because I AM absolutely disciplined in those regards.

Back to Running!

I’ve been a runner for a long(ish) time. Off and on since about 1999, but definitely “on” since 2010. For the past year though, I’ve had hip issues* that made running painful. It’s mostly fixed now–yay prolotherapy!–and since the summer, and thus prime bike weather, is winding down, it’s time to pick up where I left off.

Except “picking up where I left off” sooooo isn’t going to happen, because I’m out of running shape in a very bad way. But, in my kinder/gentler mode, I’m saying “that’s okay.” I’m wiping out the PRs and goals I had in 2011 (sub 25:00 5k, sub 2:00 half marathon), and starting from scratch. Okay, I’m not completely wiping those goals from my mind, because yeah right! I am, however, really and truly going to start running from scratch and see where it goes.
Here’s what it’s going to look like:

3 Blocks of 12 weeks each:

Block 1: Walk-to-Run (September 8 – November 30): The most gentle walk-to-run program in existence. By the totally cool people at Furman University: Run Less, Run Faster for the win! Starts off with: 10 minute walking warm-up, [1 minute run, 2 minute walk] – repeat 4 times, 10 minute walking cool-down. Could that be any more gentle? And yet, about 24 hours after my first workout, my left shin is a tiny bit sore. Baby steps, Stephanie, baby steps. At the end of 12 weeks I’ll be running 3 miles.

Block 2: Base Building (December 1 – February 22): Building my base – 15 miles per week on average, with longest run being 5 miles. No speed work or hills.

Block 3: 5k Training (February 23 – May 11): Again, based on the Run Less, Run Faster 5k training program. 3 running workouts a week: track day, tempo day, long run day. In addition to that is 2 other non-running workouts a week. I’ll be biking, thank-you-very-much!

So I think that’s it for right now. Once I get my new and shiny Garmin tomorrow, I’ll be posting more hard data. Because I love hard data. (heehee, I said hard…)

* Tendinitis of the reflected head of my right rectus femoris, if you want to get technical about it.

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