Budgeting, shmudgeting

I now have a home. It’s amazing to be financially supporting myself 100%. And to have a home. It’s also the reason I haven’t written in a while. I suddenly have a life.

I also now have rent. And I’m low on essential life supplies. One of my few pairs of shoes was accidentally donated to charity by my roommate last week, I’ve biked a hole into one of my three pairs of pants, and I need to gear up for a long winter of biking. Not to mention my new room is begging for a little TLC.

Needless to say, I need to start budgeting.

To be fair, I’ve had an imaginary “Oh yeah, I’ll get around to following that” budget for a while now- let’s call it a shmudget- but I need to come up with something more substantial. Having a life tempts me to spend lots of money, but the time has come.

Yet I first I have to ask myself if it even possible to stick to a budget in this day and age. Everyone is so scatter-brained they can’t remember what month it is, let alone how much they spent at Chipotle. You can even swipe your card without having to look at the total bill. The other day I was distracted, handed over my card and left the store with no receipt or idea how much money I had spent. Talk about shmudgeting.

I’ve been using Mint.com for a while now. There are parts of the site I like:

  • All of your accounts are shown together
  • You can see in chart form how you spend your money
  • You can set up budgets or future goals
There are a few problems:
  • It is possible to set up way too many budgets. I have around 20 listed- Housing, Utilities, Public Transportation, Groceries, Restaurants, etc- and can still think of more categories. It is not possible to keep track of all of these. Technically Mint does that for me, but what about the book I bought for enjoyment? I could put that under entertainment or shopping or “amusement”. A lot of things are amusing. Or the craft project to make a mirror for my room? It could go under home or personal care. Oh, the ambiguity!
  • You can’t budget for future expenses. I know I have to spend X-amount every month on rent, bills, etc. but Mint doesn’t let you input those unless you have an account (such as a student loan account) to link to. It makes budgeting practically impossible if you can’t plan for your expenses.
  • I feel guilty every time I log in. Not Mint’s fault, but it’s true.
I’ve mulled over different budgeting techniques. I could only use cash, except that I would have to manually track my expenses. I could sit down once a week and plan ahead, like my friend who plans all his meals for the week every Saturday, except weekly plans and I don’t get along well. I stop after the first week.

Maybe I’ll have to turn my 30-Day-Challenge into a Life Challenge. Or shmudget it is.

Also, for those in the DC area, most theaters have a pay-what-you-can night for the opening act, and tomorrow night is the opening of the comedy show Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies at Woolly Mammoth Theater. Tickets go on sale at 6pm, and I’m sure they’ll try to guilt-trip everyone into paying full price anyway, but I’m planning to pay $5-10. You should all go!

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