Coffee heat rising

February Budget: On target

Well, so far, so good: We’re two months into Bumhood, all this month’s bills are paid, and the budget is still running in the black!

That’s in spite of a plumber’s bill!

This month’s regular recurring bills were quite low. One was zero: having prepaid the February COBRA premium in January, I owed nothing this month. The power bill (SRP) also was very low, because the weather has been warm enough that I haven’t had to run the central heating.

What we can see here, though, is that even if I had paid COBRA in February, I still could have afforded to pay a modest repair bill: $252 less the COBRA premium of $185 would have left $67 in this part of the monthly budget. That happened only because the plumber’s bill came in the middle of the winter. In the summertime, power and water bills run about $200 higher than the winter bills, and so those costs would have eaten up most of the budget, leaving too little to cover a household repair.

However, last month $112 remained from the budgeted amount, despite my having paid $313 to COBRA. When the January balance is added to this month’s $252 remainder, some $364 is sitting there, waiting to take up the slack in the summer.

To cover the May, June, July, and August utility bills, I’ll need at least $800 more than I’m having to pay now. The amounts budgeted, as a matter of fact, are based on the summer 2009 utility bills, and so even with the coming rate hikes, there probably will be enough to pay the highest 2010 power and water bills.

Moving on, this month’s “discretionary” spending—the cost of everything other than monthly recurring bills—also stayed under control:

With $73.91 left over at the end of the credit-card billing cycle, I’m doing better than last month, when only $43 remained of the budgeted $800. This is in spite of making a run on the very dangerous Baker’s Nursery and in spite of buying $61.97 worth of cosmetics. Too, gasoline ran significantly higher than the $60 allotment: in February I ended up spending $95 on gas!

But here again: with $74 left from this month and $43 from last month, a small, de facto cushion is slowly piling up in the “discretionary” category, too.

Now that cash is finally flowing in from Social Security and from the community colleges, there seems to be plenty of money to cover budgeted costs. Projecting all income and outflow through the end of March:

February was a little precarious, I will say… But it looks like after this things will be better, at least until the end of August, when (assuming no major emergency expenses come up) the month-end balance will drop dizzyingly: to $22. In September it starts to climb again, and by the end of November it’s back up to around $1,800.

So, in a strange way, “money happens.”