Warning: Severe Overthinking Alert: Contemplating an Additional Spending Category
I have a Category Group in my budget which I call "Targeted For Reduction" although in my head I call it "The Price of Disorganization" category. It's for things like bank fees that I could have avoided by making one fewer transfer, library fines, what I call "Avoidable Purchases" where I don't check my cabinet before making a list and end up buying bleach that I don't need or replacing my shampoo when I have two bottles stashed already. It helps me to distinguish poor planning from poor decision making, which, at least for me, are somewhat different challenges.
And one of the categories is "Work Lunches and Snacks." Basically, I have that as a targeted category because I can trim quite a bit from my weekly expenditures by staying out of the cafeteria/snack bar.
So last night I went in to work 2-midnight, for my regular shift and a couple of hours OT. Since I only had breakfast beforehand, I planned ahead, taking a peanut butter and honey sandwich, some carrots with roasted red pepper hummus, a tortilla filled with beans, hot sauce, and lettuce, an apple, a granola bar, and a liter of coke zero.
That would have comfortably gotten my through my shift and usually with something to spare. Except the person that was supposed to replace me at midnight got a flat tire and my supervisor asked if I could stay and I said sure.
But I did have to invest in two hardboiled eggs, an ounce of cheese, a 60 cent flavored water and a 20 oz bottle of Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi at about 4 am this morning because I was fading away fast.
I find myself not wanting to log this under the category I have it in, because spending $6.68 in the snack bar that allowed me to earn 6 extra hours of pay at time and a half is the definition of a no-brainer decision. (Plus my supervisor has been incredibly understanding about letting me rearrange and flex my schedule recently since I got flooded out so it was my chance to have her back.)
If this were just a one-time thing I'd just log it under Targeted For Reduction, but it's our busy season and getting busier and I expect, if anything, I'm going to get asked to work even more unexpected overtime for the next several months. So I'm considering a category like "Work Snacks: Flex With Me" or something for situations where I don't want to look at the balance and say, "hmmm, need to really focus on packing lunches more...." but rather "wow, seized some opportunities this month!"
But I wonder if I'm being silly for tracking it that way, or just otherwise cluttering up a straightforward situation. Can't completely decide. I also think I am incapable of writing short posts. :p Thanks to anyone who waded through this mess and especially anyone who has a thought about it.
The last time I worked overtime, I was not yet budgeting; but I took a similar attitude towards convenience purchases like the one you describe. They let me earn the money, and keep my sanity.
In your situation, I think an additional category makes a lot of sense. I'd call it something like "Coping with Overtime" or "Sanity Spending" and budget something to it for as long as the overtime persists, then budget nothing to it during a season of no overtime.
Thank you everyone, this was pretty helpful. Especially from the point of view of, should I just track this as it happens or do I want to budget for it? I expect, based upon recent weeks and future plans (I am working 4 hours OT tomorrow/today on my day off, and have almost promised to come in on my other day off also) that I should plan for it, and therefore give it a line in my budget until fall when the OT will dry up.
And I really like the idea of "Sanity Spending". (Either that or "Caffeine Infusion and Something To Eat With It", which is what I wanted when I stumbled, half awake, into the snack bar at 4 am yesterday. 😉) But in all seriousness, I think I'll go with Sanity Spending.