Sunday, June 10, 2007

Expanding my budget horizon

Since I have been having ongoing budget difficulties due to unbudgeted items, and part of that was due to only looking at the next couple of months at any point in time, I've gone ahead and expanded my budgeting horizon all the way out to October 2008 and included all of the non-monthly expenses that had given me problems over the past year. I even budgeted another trip to New York City at the end of the year, a trip to Colorado next March, trips to DC in October and April/May and even October 2008, web hosting expenses, and my accountant tax prep. This gives me full visibility for a full year, and then some. The result is rather ugly with lots of monthly budget holes, but at least I have it all laid out. And, I know that I can fix all of the holes either with built-in budget slack or other "tricks" (like reducing my over-payments on my installment plan for my back taxes) or simply cutting back on one or more trips. I could have done this budget iteration with fewer trips and "made it work", but I'm struggling to be both realistic and conservative, but not overly-restrictive, and to keep as much slack and contingency nets in place as possible.

So, the bad news is that I have a problem. The good news is that I have a clear description of the problem and have tools to tackle it.

Just to note, my retirement plan contributions and participation in the company employee stock purchase plan are all outside of this budget and I treat them the same as taxes since they are payroll deductions that I never see in the payroll deposit into my checking account, so they are in no way at risk regardless what difficulties I have with my monthly "budget" expenses.

-- Jack Krupansky

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