Sunday, July 01, 2007

My budget is still in need of improvement

I did manage to successfully make a trip to New York City without further impacting my tenuous budget. In fact, I actually spent a little less than I had budgeted for a week in Manhattan, but partly that was because I budgeted conservatively with enough contingency slack.

I just received some money from Google AdSense for Google ads on my blogs and Web "properties" and promptly dumped that money into my PayPal account where it will earn a 7-day yield of 5.04%. I do earn a somewhat predictable, if small, amount from Google AdSense, but I feel more comfortable keeping it off of my budget as yet another contingency item to help cover unexpected expenses. Also, it comes every two or three months, so it doesn't fit cleanly into a monthly or even quarterly budget pattern.

I actually put more than the Google AdSense money into my PayPal "savings account" since I looked at my July budget and realized that I actually had more slack than I thought.

Unfortunately, shifting that extra money from July to PayPal actually opened up a modest budget hole in August, but small enough that at my normal spend rate I will save enough budget slack to eliminate the shortfall within a couple of weeks. I knew about that potential budget hole before I made the transfer to PayPal and considered it carefully, but decided that I felt more comfortable with increasing my savings than worried about the "pressure" of having to continue to watch my spending. If anything, this move enhances my sense of financial discipline.

I'm not worried about August at all, and September still has a very modest budget surplus. Unfortunately, October still has a moderate budget hole because I budgeted a trip to Washington, D.C., but even that hole can still be covered with budget slack as I keep my spending rate down.

November, December, and January accumulate larger budget holes since I have budgeted for a trip to San Francisco and a year-end trip to New York City. The bad news is that the holes are significant, but the good news is that I carefully budgeted conservatively so that they probably are worst-case holes. I really do need to figure out how to fill them, but at least I have a road map of the terrain to work from.

We're in the middle of the annual review process at work, so there is a moderate chance that I could get a raise of some sort in September. I'm certainly not counting on a significant raise, but I am hoping that I'll get at least a very modest raise so that I don't need to take very draconian measures to fill these budget holes.

Worst case, I can suspend my monthly investment plan with ShareBuilder and almost completely eliminate all budget holes. I would rather not play that card, but at least I know that it is there and would work.

I could also elect to end or reduce my participation in "The United Way Tax" come January, but I would prefer to leave that "investment" intact for the foreseeable future.

-- Jack Krupansky

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