Budget Log Week One

Like most people, money is really difficult for me to talk about. It carries a lot of baggage, including connotations of power, imbalance, wealth and impermanence, and I suspect that it is deeply connected to our fundamental, primal need for belonging, our fear of death and abandonment, and naturally, of course, security. 

I've been dealing with all of these complex feelings while reading through Emotional Currency by Kate Levinson, and while this book isn't my favorite breakdown of our connection to money (there are a lot of heteronormative assumptions about the way that men and women respectively deal with money both practically and emotionally), it brings up a lot of interesting points and, most importantly, prompts us to reconnect with the emotional weight we give to money. Reading through this book I've begun to realize that I carry a lot of shame and guilt about how I choose to make and spend money, and while I've always been very clear about where it came from, I've never confronted it directly.

So, I've done what I always do when I feel shame or guilt about something: write publicly about it, blow the top off and shed some light on a subject that turns my guts into mush and makes it feel like I'm breathing through a straw.  For the rest of September and perhaps beyond, I'll be sharing my weekly spending log with you via this blog. 

I've gone into this month with a few financial goals, including:

- Sticking more closely to my budget.
- Doubling my online sales.
- Bringing in $1500 for the month.

They seem small, but each one of these has a big, lasting impact on my practice as a freelancer and my confidence as an adult human (you can read more about all of these goals with more personal context by becoming a patron. Even just one dollar grants you access to lots of stuff I don't share here. And yes, this is a shameless plug because I am trying to get better at asking without apology and Patreon is how I'm able to have a guaranteed monthly income as an illustrator. Any support you're willing to share is so incredibly appreciated and you will not be disappointed <3).

Anyway, sharing my spending log here with you in a public space is my way of holding myself accountable and remaining transparent about what my life is like as a freelancer/self employed person and also shattering the mystery surrounding money. I see so many folks whose Instagram paints a portrait of someone who is wildly successful in their career, able to travel, who never worries about money, and never has to take a job they can't stand just to pay the bills. And for good reason, right? Why would you share the dirty, gritty, less than pleasant stuff to a professional profile? These platforms are more about creating an aspirational identity – sharing the person you are in your dreams, on your best days – rather than the mess of what it is to be a human. That being said, I've caught myself more than a few times engaging in the type of poisonous thought pattern that says "must be nice" or "well we can't all have a perfect life." My work with The Artist's Way tells me that this is jealousy. It tells me that this is a limiting belief. That it is bitterness at my own circumstances, my Censor trying to keep me low so I can keep the darkness alive because the darkness is where the Censor thrives.

(If you don't know what I'm talking about when I say Censor, I highly highly highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Artist's Way. I wouldn't recommend it unless I really believed in its ability to help crush these negative beliefs.)

Okay, now that I've hopped off my soap box, I'll share a quick breakdown of some key aspects of my personal budget:

My monthly necessary payments total $935. These are things like rent, insurance, phone bill, a car payment, minimum credit card payments – things that are nonnegotiable, must be paid a set amount each month.

The remaining amount that I have budgeted goes toward things like gas, food, coffee, and (mostly) business expenses like new product, shipping, and subscriptions. I try to use a 50/30/20 rule for my budget, but more often than not it ends up being 60/35/5 depending on what my month is like.

The way I'll be structuring this log is with the amount spent next to the amount remaining in my budget for that category for the month. I'll include the category as well as a little description if necessary. For now, I won't be sharing my income (I still have some weird feelings about that), just my expenses.

If you're curious, I use Mint to keep track of my budget, and I use Quickbooks for bookkeeping and categorizing my expenses, that way I can keep track of what's for work and what's personal.

Without further ado, here is my spending log for this first week of September, 9/2 - 9/8:

Partial rent payment


A new work desk
I categorize this under business expenses since this desk is primarily used for working. The desk was $30, but I overdrafted my checking account on accident and incurred a $5 fee for overdraft protection.

Coffee. I have a separate line in my budget for this because I used to spend a lot on coffee. Not so much now but the separate line remains because it's one of the few luxuries I allow myself without question.

Dog treats, Toilet paper, and a snack (weird combination of things I know but don't judge). 
Categorizing this as groceries.

This one I take out of my budget but categorize it in Quickbooks as a business expense because this was a day that James and I met over coffee to work on a project we've taken on as a team.

Fast Food. 

A note about my food budget:
For this month, using the zero sum method, I've alloted $10/mo for fast food, $20 for alcohol, $30 for coffee shops, $92 for groceries, and $30 for restaurants. That totals $182, but my total budget for Food and Dining in Mint is $210 because I know stuff comes up and food is almost always my biggest expense. These numbers all get shifted around and manipulated as I go – $10 from restaurants might go to groceries, etc. That's just how a budget works, y'all.


Whew, that wasn't so bad, was it? I feel better just having shared some things with y'all and I hope you feel a little better after this first peek into my more transparent financial situation.

This week was a pretty normal one and I can say that I am beyond lucky to have a partner who shares expenses with me, is willing to step up when I'm running pretty slim, and to be in a living situation that allows me to freelance and live cheaply. I haven't always been in this position.

As this project goes I'll be sure to share any challenges I run into and share how I'm doing with sticking to those goals I set for this month.

Thanks for reading!

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