The Plan

Playing the $100 game has been harder than I thought. The cap for everything involved making decisions on food vs. things; eating out or eating in; my food vs. the cat’s food. There are too many variables. The piet-y diety was more fun, my decisions were made for me.

Often I felt like was being punished for the spending crimes that I had committed. I was a little unhappy, and a little stressed out. I need a new plan.

Reading about Richard Jenkins’ 60% Plan on MSN Money, I realized that $100 a week is what I should be spending. Actually, $150. According to the plan 60% of gross income goes to committed expenses – taxes, bills, essential household, insurance, and basic food. 10% to retirement, 10% to long term savings, 10% to irregular expenses, and 10% to fun money. My semi-accurate number crunching brings me to $150 in fun money a week, practically a 50% raise from what I’ve been working with.

But there is some tweaking in these ideal numbers and my reality. My committed expenses are more like 65%, not including any food. He suggests that plastic offenders dedicate 20% to debt instead of putting the money into retirement and long term savings. I think I’ll split the difference, keeping the 401K (pre-tax dollars!), and devote the 10% from long term savings to debt. And no credit cards.

That leaves 15% for the fun money and the irregular expenses. The truth is that irregular expenses – vacations, home repairs, kitchen appliances, Barney’s warehouse sales – is what got me into the hole to begin with. To budget for this ahead of time will spare me the pain and interest rate later, even if it is only 5%.

So maybe what needs to happen for one more month before the holidays, is that I should keep my budget at $100 a week (groan!) to help pay for a little more debt, or add to the irregular expense cushion. A little pain now, should save me some hard knocks later.

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