Monday, November 21, 2011

Crunching Numbers

I found myself today in the unprecedented position of not having anywhere I needed to be. Weird, right? I'm always running around doing something. I didn't like the feeling, so I gave myself a homework assignment.

Specifically, I was curious what I did with my money this year. Now, $200 a week isn't an enormous amount, I know. But with room and board included, it's more than enough for me to have a little fun on the side.

The above graph isn't 100% accurate - I had to withdraw from savings to pay for car repairs, for example. The "Savings" slice also includes the money I set aside for my new phone and camera. But I think it's a close enough approximation.

Of course, that's for the whole year. When you break it down into the first four months and the last four months, it gets even more interesting.

There are a few reasons for the discrepancies here. For one thing, I started traveling a lot more to Washington DC in the second half of the year, which accounts for the higher car, ATM and grocery costs. The huge difference in "Shopping" can be attributed to my $650 camera. As for "Entertainment and Travel," that is probably due to my two trips to Indiana and Kansas back in April/May.

So what does this all mean? I really don't know. To be honest, it's more than I thought I would spend over the course of my farm internship. But the added and unexpected expenses of flights, car repairs, and a new camera certainly skewed things in that direction. However, I also saved fully half of what I made this year, which is not too shabby.

Of course, a lot of the "little" purchases - Goodwill runs, books, cups of coffee - certainly add up. That could be something to tackle in the future. It will be something to think about as I head home this week, since I won't have any income for a few months and it will probably be a challenge to avoid hemorrhaging money. 

So what tools do you use to be financially responsible? Any tips for next year?

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