Regular readers of 5YP will know that I am a great believer in budgets and have written numerous posts on the subject. For example see Budgeting for Your 5-Year Project, and Paying for your 5-Year Project.
Even better, stick the word budget into the 5YP blog search box above and see how many of my posts are listed by the search engine.
The thing is, I find myself in an interesting situation because I am in year 6 of my 5-Year project. I completed my 5-year project to build a great gentleman’s wardrobe at the end of 2012 having begun the project in 2008.
So at the beginning of this year I thought that I didn’t need to pay too much attention to budgeting. After all, you don’t need very much after 5 years of building up my wardrobe. It seemed a pretty logical conclusion to draw. Indeed I wrote about this in my Mission Accomplished post at the end of 2013.
However, we are now 2/3 of the way through 2013 and I thought I better do some analysis of how much I have spent thus far on my wardrobe. Normally I do this on a monthly basis but for a number of reasons had simply not got round to doing this since the end of April.
I was in for a bit of a surprise. In fact, it was more of a shock. Up to the end of April I was more or less on target to spend a mere fraction of my average annual spend over the last 5 years. This was only to be expected and, indeed, was what I had budgeted.
In the 4 months since, however, I have more than compensated for my restraint in those first 4 months of this year. So much so, that my total spend for the first 8 months of this year already exceeds my total spend for the whole of last year! Not. Good. At. All.
Even worse it’s difficult to see how I’ve managed that. I don’t mean that the facts are not in evidence. In fact the opposite is true. I maintain a spreadsheet in which I record how much I have spent on my wardrobe each month and in what categories: formal shirts, suits & outerwear, footwear, ties & handkerchiefs, jumpers & casualwear, cufflinks & accessories, etc. So all the facts are before me. In gory detail.
Rather it is despite the facts and figures I am still more than a little surprised that I’ve managed to rack up such a spend in a year that was meant to be one in which I would spend less time building a wardrobe and more time enjoying it.
I am aware of some deliberate expense. I have purchased more shoetrees than I need at the moment in order to make the most of the Jones Bootmaker summer sale.
I added some shorts and casualwear to the wardrobe this year, in part because it was a section of the wardrobe I had largely neglected, and in part because it was needed ahead of a few weeks in the tropics.
But mostly the budget busting has been the result of a number of impulse purchases for which I would not normally have had space in previous years. I had previously been working with a list of items I wanted to acquire each year and a very tight budget with which to acquire them. This year I’ve had no list or particular constraints so whenever I have seen something I like I’ve been inclines to say ‘I’m not really buying many things this year so there’s no excuse not to.’
Unfortunately, there have been rather too many of those incidents. Moreover, in August when I came across another ‘must have’ item I didn’t remember that I’ve come across must have items in nearly every one of the previous months. All these things add up.
Looking back there aren’t many things I have purchased, which I regret. There are one or two things which are very nice indeed, but which in retrospect I could easily have done without: a shirt here, a pair of shoes there.
Nonetheless, had I been recording my monthly expense, as I should have been, I would certainly have been more careful about new expenditure. And that’s the key thing and why it is important to manage your 5YP budget carefully. If you have a collecting impulse as I do, it is all too easy to spend far more than you are aware of, or intend.
The thing about budgets, of course, is that they are of no use if you simply plan them and then ignore them. Take a tip from someone who has been sharply reminded. Budgets need to be managed or they are worse than useless.
Now I have a difficult task. Some of my acquisitions this year are unworn. What can i return….?