Tag Archives: variable expenses

Saving for Christmas

Saving for the holidays is an interesting proposition. What makes it really interesting is that it comes every year at the same time. Everyone knows the holidays are coming and yet, most people still do not save. The shopping becomes a strain on your budget and an added stress for having to complete your shopping in a short amount of time.

My wife and I are no exception to this rule. Here we are less than two months away and we literally have $109.12 saved. Considering we typically run a $1000 holiday budget, one could say we are a little behind. What are the consequences for this behavior?

  1. Have to pull from other savings to make up the difference
  2. For November and December, no contributions to our IRA
  3. November and December will be cash poor
HAPPY CHRISTMAS BOKEH! by kelp1966 on Flickr

Photo by kelp1966 on Flickr

This happens every year. This year is particularly bad on our part. Now that we’ve seen how things work in the worst way. Let us look at how saving for Christmas should work.

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Fly or Drive?

Zero Based Budgeting - Fly Or Drive from Flickr by Reprolurch

Fly Or Drive from Flickr by Reprolurch

This week my family and I are spending a week in Cape Cod with my wife’s family. We are a family of 5 and we had to make a choice about our mode of transportation for the trip from Virginia. Flying has a few major advantages mainly that it is so much faster. Driving on the other hand is cheaper and more flexible. In this post I’ll explain how we came to our decision and the effects it has on our family financially and psychologically.

The thought of spending 12 to 13 hours in a van with three children under the age of 6 will leave many adults screaming and running for the hills. I will be the first to admit, my wife and I had the same apprehension. The noise that three children so small can generate is almost unimaginable.

To figure this out we had to look at a few different factors. Time, expense, patience level required and what we wanted to get out of the trip.

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Variable Expenses

I recently posted how to budget for variable income. Now I want to discuss a related subject, variable expenses. Budgeting for variable expenses frustrates people just as much as inconsistent income.

I have noticed since starting zero based budgeting that my fear of variable expenses has dramatically decreased. I attribute most of this anxiety decrease to gradual learning about where I spend my money. Each budget that I go through teaches me a little more about my routine finances and gives an idea where to make adjustments in future budgets.

Free Zero Based Budget - Variable Expenses. Image from Flickr by basykesA few examples of variable expenses:

  • Groceries
  • Medical
  • Gasoline
  • Electricity

There are of course many others, but those listed above apply to a large amount of people.

Groceries are probably the easiest to control. You know exactly how many mouths you have to feed and you typically know how many days you do that for. In my case, it’s 5 mouths and a two-week pay period. What you do not know are the variances in price, what’s on sale, etc.

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