I suppose March isn’t traditionally a month for spending money, but it does seem to be one for our family, especially this year. Let’s just put it this way: On Tuesday, I spend roughly $1,700 in two hours. Yeah, kind of makes me weak in the knees, too.
So what do we spend on in March, and why did I spend $1,700 in two hours?
Regular March Expenses
Ben’s birthday is in March. I normally budget $50 for spouse birthday presents.
For Ben’s present this year, I’m going to pay for Mass Effect 3 ($54) out of our joint account, instead of making him use his fun money as he has been planning. He doesn’t know that, and likely won’t, as he doesn’t really read this blog. But Shhh!, don’t tell.
Our wedding anniversary is in March. I normally budget $200 for our wedding anniversary. $150 for gifts ($75 each, unless we’re getting a joint gift) and $100 for a nice dinner out. The traditional anniversary gift for the 3rd anniversary is leather. … I’m not really sure what to do with that, but it doesn’t really matter because this year we decided to go for a joint gift in the Xbox Kinect (which we already bought for $100, on sale) and a workout game for me ($40). Ben wanted it for some unique functionality that it gives to Mass Effect 3. Needless to say, we all win.
If you add it all up, we normally spend $250 on “extras” in March,, and it looks like this March isn’t going to be any different. We budget for these expenses, of course, which means that instead of putting them on a credit card, we pull the money for them out of savings. I’d much rather put money in savings, but I guess the point of saving is to have the money there when you need/want it. It’s definitely a better choice than overspending and racking up credit card debt again. (We just got that sucker paid off.)
Extra Expenses This March 2012
Taxes. *sighs* We owe $263 for 2009 taxes (long story) and $636 for our 2011 taxes. Fortunately, that money can come out of our emergency fund without too much hassle.
We’re planning to fly to Michigan in May, for a friend’s wedding and my brother-in-law’s college graduation (and Mother’s Day, since Ben’s moms both live in Michigan). March is just about the latest we can buy plane tickets before the airfare starts to climb, and the sooner the better.
If you haven’t already guessed, the taxes and the plane tickets are the cause of the “I just spent $1,700 in two hours” announcement above. Taxes: $899. Plane tickets: $858 (including a pair of train tickets… another long story). Total: $1,757.
That’s a lot of money coming out of our accounts in March. I think the only other month that rivals it for spending may be September, when literally half of our family members have birthdays (and we’re both children of divorced and remarried parents so that’s actually a lot of family).
Paying for March, or I’ve got a Plan
Savings. Can I just mention that I love saving? It makes life so much simpler. Delayed gratification with a huge payoff.
Obviously the plan for our regular expenses is the budgeting and saving we’re already doing. As long as I don’t succumb to a crazy whim and buy Ben something else for our anniversary, we’ll be fine there.
The “owing taxes” thing was unexpected, but that’s what emergency funds are for. As soon as we found out the final bill, I started funneling all of our extra “saving/paying down debt” into our emergency fund account. That way, even though I’ve just transferred out 3/4 of the original $1,000 balance, we’re well on our way to restoring the original amount. ($639 and counting). It should only take one or two more paychecks for us to be back to normal there.
The $858 on the credit card is frustrating, but I deemed it to be a necessary evil and any lingering balance from that purchase should be gone by late April 2012.
Once March is behind us, I guess it’ll be time start thinking about and planning for September.
Do you or your family have any crazy spending months? How do you prepare for them?