I’m not sure if I’ve ever written here about how I track my spending, but I use a rather unsophisticated method. It’s essentially a typed version of the pencil-and-paper method. I have certain budget categories and spending targets for each, and just type up what I’ve spent in each category as the month rolls along. But my month isn’t a calendar month. Because I get paid every other week I budget second paycheck of one month to second paycheck of the next month. It still works out to about 30 days, but it works out better because of when my bills are due, especially my credit card bill.
I put every purchase I possibly can on a credit card then pay the bill in full when it comes in at the end of one of my budgeting months, which usually occurs within a few days of the end of my credit card’s billing cycle. For example, my credit card bill came yesterday and the end of my budget month is today. Normally, I would pay my credit card bill out of all the stored up money that’s been in my checking account, and re-start my spending fresh this “month.” Normally, because I’ve been diligently tracking my spending, I know exactly what that credit card bill will be. Today was not a normal day.
I calculated that my credit card bill should be $1,169.05, based on my spending between August 20 and September 16. But for some reason it was only $1,050.21. Ok, I thought, maybe a few purchases just haven’t showed up in my unbilled activity yet. So I subtracted my available credit from my credit limit to figure out if I could be expecting a few purchases to post in the next day or so. Nope, I only came up with about $30 worth of purchases, which I made today. I re-calculated my monthly spending, thinking I had just made a math error. Nope. So I scrutinized my statement, which is really hard to do in comparison to my spending document because I have to constantly be flipping back and forth between two pages, but as far as I can tell everything matches up. And herein lies the head-scratcher. Where did that $118.84 go?
I’m racking my brain and I really can’t think of anything. I have the money in my account to pay the rest of the bill if the mysterious charges show up, but I just can’t think of what they’d be. The only thing I can think of is that because it was back-to-school time and I made about a million trips to Target, maybe I put a few things on my debit card that I just don’t remember (but why would I have done that?!) and I counted them as charges on my credit card in my tracking document by mistake. And again, it’s hard to tell with a bunch of charges from the same place when you’re rapidly flipping back and forth between a Word document and a PDF document to compare them.
Sigh. Maybe that extra $118.84 is my weekend bonus?