May 17th, 2006

hat

budgeting

I think I'm starting to get the hang of budgeting. I've finally cajoled Quicken into giving me a report that makes sense. The bad news is that we went overbudget for April, and we're a little overbudget this month. The good news is that the main culprit is unplanned wedding expenses, which will disappear in the long term.

Other than wedding, our biggest areas where we are overbudget seem to be groceries and dining out. I've started changing my eating out habits, so hopefully that will help. I'm not sure how to spend less on groceries; my current thinking is to try to track grocery spending more precisely, but I'm not sure if I'm up to keeping such detailed track.

My biggest breakthrough in budgeting was something that happened a few weeks ago, when I started making long-term plans. I realized that what matters is not how much you earn, or how much you spend, but the difference between the two. (And, most importantly, the sign of it.) This means that amounts that seem inconsequential when compared to our household income can still have a significant impact on our financial well-being. I stopped buying lattes after I figured this out!
hat

visit to the Bay area

I'm going to the Oakland conference next week (which is actually in Berkeley) and I figured I'd fly in a few days early to go to Bab5 and hang out for the weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of you, but I also have a couple of requests. Can someone, preferably not far from Berkeley, offer me a place to sleep Thursday (tomorrow) night? And does anyone want to join me for lunch at the Cheeseboard on Friday?