One Year of Budgeting Review! Plus Summer Spending Reports

ONE YEAR OF BUDGETING IS NOW COMPLETE! And I’m back from break! Finally! The two months went by as fast as a blink but it also feels like it’s been forever since I’ve blogged.

I’m not going to dive too much into how taking a break went. What I’ll say is, I read a lot. Spent more time with friends than I have in a while. Read a bit more. Wrote a lot. Missed blogging. Went to Mexico and Michigan. Hung out. And spent a lot of time working my 9 to 5.

It was pretty great, but at times I wondered how I ever managed to get a post up a week. Getting back into it worried me I wouldn’t have what it takes to do it all over again, but I know that’s just a thought to move beyond.

Annnnnyway, in the time that I’ve been on break, I’ve gone through three budgeting periods AND hit my one year anniversary since I started budgeting. A whole year! That went by fast but also feels like a million years ago.

In this post, I’m going to share my total numbers for the year– total spent, total saved, total paid on debt and the average amount spent in each category each month! 

But first! Let’s talk about the last couple of months, very briefly.

July 2019 Spending Categories

Groceries $325 $188 $137
Clo Bare $30 $30 $0
Health/medical $155 $200 -$45
Home $1,730 $1,730 $0
Transportation/Car Insurance $145 $176 -$31
Personal $305 $312 -$7
Entertainment $400 $415 -$15
Utilities/Cell Phone $400 $283 $117
Travel $1,960 $2,429 -$469
Debt $1,805 $1,805 $0
CBBB $40 $40 $0

August 2019 Spending Categories

Groceries $250 $215 $35
Clo Bare $375 $375 $0
Health/medical $180 $167 $13
Home $0 $0 $0
Transportation/Car Insurance $180 $154 $26
Personal $150 $118 $32
Entertainment $210 $232 -$22
Utilities/Cell Phone $215 $215 $0
Travel $340 $323 $17
Debt $1,805 $1,805 $0
CBBB $40 $40 $0

September 2019 Categories

Groceries $250 $292 -$46
Clo Bare $0 $0 $0
Health/medical $120 $118 $2
Home $850 $850 $0
Transportation/Car Insurance $375 $365 $10
Personal $280 $383 -$103
Entertainment $250 $187 $63
Utilities/Cell Phone $400 $351 $49
Travel $550 $898 -$348
Debt $1,000 $1,000 $0
CBBB $40 $36 $4

The Fuck-Up’s Explained


As you can see, I went over budget in travel expenses both in July and September.

But I technically didn’t.

In July I booked a trip for my man friend and me to go to Mexico for Labor Day weekend, and in the July budgeting period, he hadn’t paid me back yet for his portion. So? I decided not to track it until I was paid back just in case something happened. He did pay me back, which was $475, which would mean I was under budget for travel in July.

As for September, our flights back from Mexico ended up getting cancelled by Spirit (pinche Spirit!) so we had to drop some extra cash to stay an extra day, book new flights, and deal with a very long layover.

Good news– we received $100 in credit to Spirit, plus $880 back on my card (still waiting on) which would mean that after I get my share of the $880, I’ll be under budget for travel in September as well. Yay! 


I’m starting to notice I have an issue with this category. I think it’s because it’s too broad, anything can go into it. I don’t have a great excuse for why I went way over in September but I think part of the problem is the vagueness of this category. It’s a catch all, which is nice to have but I need to re-strategize how I use it. But I’ll talk about that more once we get to the year in review.

Spending Over the Last Couple of Months

So, not too terrible with the budget these last couple of months, but even so these last few months were a bit spendy. Makes sense since I spent more time with friends, socializing and doing all the things. But it’s time to reel it back in so I can start making some major payments into savings and on my debt.



It’s been a year since I started budgeting and sharing my budget posts! Pretty freaking cool, yeah? I’ve learned a lot in the year that I’ve started managing my money. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in the last year and also how far I have left to go. 

But before we get there, let’s talk about where I was at last year:

  1. I was $67,866 in debt. 
  2. $9,899 of that was a car loan.
  3. $57,967 was a student loan with almost 8% interest
  4. I had $1,400.11 in savings.
  5. $630.35 in checking.
  6. My 401k had $10,242 in it and I put in about 4% of my paycheck into it.
  7. I brought in about $2,200 every two weeks from my full time job and I also did some freelance that brought me in an extra $200-$400 a month.
  8. No credit card debt. 
  9. No real budget.

I was super spendy and had no handle on my money at all, no plan for how I wanted to pay off my debt, and felt like I’d probably work until I died. When I started, I didn’t have a lot of goals because I didn’t know what I was doing. I knew I didn’t want to pay off debt until I died, but I also had no idea how to get myself out of that debt and my spending habits.

How I paid $20k on my student loans in a year

When the Shift Occured

It wasn’t until I started making decent money that I realized I’d have any opportunity to become debt free someday, so I came up with my “get debt free by 33 plan“. And so in September 2018, I decided to start tracking everything I spent money on so I could create an informed budget.

And I was horrified. 

I blew almost $600 in two weeks on eating out, drinking, and going out on dates

Yep. You can read about that over at “Holy Shit I need a Budget: I am $67,866 in debt” post.

So this bitch started budgeting. And look where I’m at now:

  1. I am $51,185 in debt, a $16,681 difference.
  2. I put down $19,460 on my debt– on average $1,622 a month. (FUCK YOU INTEREST! This is why my total debt is only $16,681 difference because of interest. SEE HOW IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE?!)
  3. I refinanced my student loans to take my loan from 8% interest to 4.75% interest.
  4. Now I have a budget and track everything I spend.
  5. Stuck to my budget 8 out of the 12 months. 
  6. Paid off my car loan several years early.
  7. I have $13,400 in my savings.
  8. I have $800 in my checking.
  9. Now I have about $27,304 in my 401K and I put 11% of my paycheck into it. That means I put in almost twice as much money than I had in the previous THREE YEARS TOTAL.
  10. I got a raise and then a promotion and depending on how many hours I work, I bring in about $2.5k to $2.9k every two weeks. Currently no freelance, but considering opening up a side hustle again that works with my goals.

My Feels on a Year of Budgeting

Not bad right? From zero to this, I’m pretty proud of myself. $20k on debt in a year? That’s fucking badass! Paying off my car a couple years early? Fuck yeah!


Don’t let me fool you. 

I fucked up too. 

When I ran the numbers, I really had my fingers crossed that I’d end up having spent only 50% of my income, living off of and saving the rest.

But that’s not what happened. Turns out, on average, I went way over budget on a month to month basis.

Take a look how only a few decisions to go over budget on certain months or spend big on a new couch or trip or shopping spree ended up impacting my entire YEARLY budget averages.

By the Numbers: A Year in Review

Actual Yearly Total Cost Per
Month Average
Groceries $300 $3,170 $264 Under Budget
Clo Bare $100 $2,331 $194 Over Budget
Health/Medical $150 $1,698 $142 Under Budget
Home $850 $11,439 $953 Over Budget
Transportation $175 $3,714 $309 Over Budget
Personal $200 $4,934 $411 Over Budget
Entertainment $300 $3,803 $317 Over Budget
Utilities/Cell Phone $280 $3,263 $272 Under Budget
Travel $797 $9,567 $797 Had no Budget
Debt $1,800 $19,460 $1,622 Under Budget
CBBB $40 $204 $17 Under Budget

Total Spent October 2018 to October 2019: $63,583

Over budget on average $507 a month.


Look at that.

The Fuck-Up’s For the Budgeting Year Explained

I went over budget on average in 6 out of the eleven categories. And by a lot. I spent $63K in a year, $20k of which was on debt.

Travel (again)

Plus! One HUGE budget item, travel, I never even thought to have a yearly budget for it. So I spent $10,000 on that this year. THAT’S INSANE!


Home (dat green couch doe)

For the first time in my life, I have my own furniture now. And that comes with a price. When my roommate moved out, she took all her lovely furniture with her, so I decided to furnish my place. I purchased a couch, a settee, some chairs and a side table, and that all ran me a little less than $2k. Didn’t plan on making those purchases this year, but now I should be set for several years and for when I move out on my own once my lease is up.

Transportation (WTF?!)

Transportation cost me about double what I thought it would per month. I think that’s because I didn’t plan for things like stickers or Ubers or tickets or registration fees or all the random expenses that come along with owning a vehicle in Chicago.

Personal (Goddamnit, again)

Personal I also almost doubled and that makes me mad at myself because that’s just frivoulous spending. A lot of the time it’s me saying “yes” on a whim to things I probably shouldn’t– like donating to everyone and their mom’s charity, going to a show I don’t care about or some other event that I feel some sort of obligation to show up to. 

The personal category is the perfect example of how often I enter the “fuck-it” mentality only it’s really more the “Can I afford it?” mentality. Sometimes I’ll get asked to do something or tempted to buy something and instead of asking “Do I need it?” I ask myself “Can I afford it?”. 

Problems with the “Can I Afford it?” Mentality

That, my friends, is a tricky trap especially if you’re a decent earner with ZERO responsibilities other than yourself and your student loans.

Let’s just talk about some of the few moments that I thought “Can I afford it?” and answered “yes instead of asking myself “do I need it?” Let’s see how, just this tiny example impacted my budget in a big, real way. I’m using real life examples here from this year of spending, my friends.

Here’s a few impulse purchases I made because I knew I could afford it:

  1. A “treat-yo-self” birthday where I spent $700 on myself for my birthday including $125 in donations, $160 on a new pair of shoes, $350 on a massage/spa day, and $100+ on some other shit that I don’t remember. Food probably.
  2. $300 on three pairs of shoes that I should’ve researched more before buying over the course of a year.
  3. $1700 on a last minute trip to Mexico with my current boo thang because why the fuck not.
  4. $200 on another last minute trip up to Traverse City immediately following Mexico because it’s my bestie’s birthday so I CAN’T NOT GO!?!
  5. $200 on expensive as fuck throw pillows for my new green couch because I can’t be bothered to go to a store and get a decent deal. I suck.

Just five examples that actually happened this year total $3,100 which means on average bringing up my budget $258.33 a month. And that’s just FIVE impulse purchases. I MADE MANY MORE IMPLUSE/FUCK-IT PURCHASES THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF A YEAR. MANY MORE. MANY MORE.

How I paid off $20k of Debt in a Year

Let’s Break the “Can I Afford It/Fuck-it Mentality” Down Further

Even if I only made one $700 impulse purchase in a year, that would increase my monthly average budget by $58.

One $300 purchase, $25 a month.

One $1,700 purchase, $141.67 a month.

One $200 purchase, $16.67 a month.

See how those little things make a huge impact on my yearly numbers?

I never thought about it this way before because I was constantly asking myself if I could afford it. And the answer was always yes– I had the money. I could afford it. I always thought the numbers would just magically work and by the time I ran the numbers for the year, everything would even out to exactly as I had planned.

Wrong. Wrong af.

Look at how these impulse purchases, even as low as $200 ONE TIME impact my overall numbers.

THAT’s INSANE!!!! I used to spend $200 on the dumbest shit, and look at how it can completely unwind a budget! 

This was really eye opening to me. 

I needed literally none of those things. At the end of the day, I don’t regret spending the money on travel but the shoes and the pillows and the treat-yo-self birthday? That’s $1,200 on a couple of purchases that impacted my bottom line. $1,200 in impulse purchases means increasing my monthly budget by $100 bucks! While I definitely shouldn’t beat myself up over it, those impulses stack up and it’s no wonder I went way over budget for my yearly expenses. Absolutely none of the impulses, save the travel experiences, are worth having to work 40+ more years just to buy stupid shit. I’d rather cut those 40 years down to 30? Maybe even 20? And that means making the “sacrifice” of not dumping cash on dumb shit now.

What Clo Bare learned after a year of budgeting,

My New Question: Do I need it?

This year, my new questions are “If I can afford it, do I actually need it? Am I willing to not hit living off of 50% of my income for this?” 

I need to stop saying yes to things I don’t need or REALLY, really want so that I can start saying more to a life I really want.


Ok, so enough with the bad news. I was more spendy than I thought I was BUT, I stuck to a budget! For the first time EVER, I put almost $20k on my debt! I made more money than last year and I understand where it goes now and I have a better idea of where I want it to go in the future! 

Those are all good things. My values align with where my money is going, much more closely than it did this time last year, and that excites me.

My biggest expenses this year were:

  1. Rent
  2. Travel
  3. And debt repayment

That makes me feel much better than having my biggest expense being entertainment. If I had kept on the trajectory of spending $600 every two weeks on eating out and boozing, my highest category would’ve been debt and entertainment at $14,400 a YEAR! 

I’m so glad that’s not where my money is going anymore. I feel very comfortable knowing my money goes towards my home, my travels and getting myself debt free.

After a year of budgeting, what’s next?

With all this information I have a better idea on how to start budgeting on a yearly basis.

First, I’m going to start a yearly budget to keep track of how I’m doing each month when I create a new budget for the month. I think it’ll help keep me on track so I don’t get to the end of the year thinking I did a great job only to realize I completely fucked up some of my categories. I think having a year long budget in addition to my monthly budget will give me a “big picture” of my money and help me to stay focused.

Secondly, I need to budget for travel. And I think I should probably cut those travel costs in half. I can still travel, but I don’t need to spend $10k on it in a year. This year was special because I wanted to take that two week trip to Italy and not worry about money– which I did and it was awesome. But I could’ve done it for much cheaper. Probably half the price. So now, that’s what I’m challenging myself with.

Travel for less.

Live with less.

Buy what I need, not what I can afford.

And create a yearly budget to keep track of where I’m at in the big scheme of things.

Woo! Having a plan is a relief. I feel better prepared to do this next year and I’m glad I took a moment to check in on how I’m really doing. I’m going to put together my yearly budget this week, and have it to share soon.

Your turn! 

How do you budget? Have you ever done a yearly budget for yourself? What does that look like? What major surprises did you encounter in your first year of budgeting? Share in the comments below, and if you liked this post, be sure to share!

Pin this Post for Later

one year of budgeting
one year of budgeting
one year of budgeting

2 thoughts on “One Year of Budgeting Review! Plus Summer Spending Reports”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *