April Budget Round-Up

April Expenditures

So April ended up being a relatively expensive month.  I suppose this was to be expected- we just moved and were also in the process of settling up our bills from our previous rental. Fortunately, for our loan payments, we also had some unexpected income this month (our rental deposit and some checks back for services that we pre-paid but didn’t use, like renter’s insurance).

One of our biggest expenditures this month was car repair.  Both cars needed some regular maintenance that we’d been deferring due to the frigid cold (brakes, oil changes, etc.).  Our 12 year old Jetta needed a new vacuum pump.

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Playing outside and “helping” with the cars

We had already purchased it, but B. had been waiting for nicer weather to install it.  The same car also required a specialty tool for the brakes.  We checked with AutoZone and luckily, it’s one of the tools they rent, for free.  This was at least a $150 savings. Then, just as we got the Jetta back in proper working order, our even older 16 year old van sprung a coolant leak. As in, dumping all the coolant into a big puddle on the ground. YAY. Though B. tried valiantly to fix this, we ended up having to take it to a mechanic. Fortunately, the fix was easy and set us back a mere $85.

Months like April are honestly why we try to plan to spend only about 50% of our take-home pay in a month- that way, when things pop up, we can absorb the financial hit without going into (more) debt.

How We Buy and Budget

Though we’ve been disciples of the Dave Ramsey plan for a long time, we’ve been experimenting with moving away from some of his tenants.  Most of his principles seemed to apply more when we weren’t able to (relatively) stick to a budget. More to come on this.

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Yay for spring!

We buy almost everything with credit cards these days.  We have one credit card that we pay off in full every month.  If you can’t pay it off every month, do not get a credit card. B. and I have been down that road and we were really wary of trying credit cards again.  But it has worked out fine! Our spending hasn’t changed at all and we’ve had no problems paying it off each month in full.  Because our credit is high (thank you student loans?), we were able to qualify for a pretty good cashback card- we earn 1% back on all purchases and 1% back on everything we pay off.  It’s not a lot extra, but every little bit helps.

We track and budget all our expenses using EveryDollar (by Dave Ramsey).  We’ve tried some of the free options out there (Personal Capital, Mint) but I am personally less impressed by them for budgeting.  I think they work great for tracking expenses, but we still don’t feel that we’re at the point where we can’t budget. Maybe someday. Anyway. On to the meat and potatoes!

Yucky Yucky Debt

  • Total budgeted: $2564
  • Total paid: $3978
  • Total owed: $109,886

It’s going down- we’ll be under $100,000 soon. We started with somewhere between $200,000 and $250,000 so I think I’ll just celebrate this as a continued win.

April Spending

Expenditure Planned Spent Notes
Mortgage $1,336 $1,336 Coming in at only $36 higher than what we used to spend on rent. I’m counting this as a win, given the incredibly tight housing market where we live
Final utility bills $340 $328 Closing out utilities at our rental
Electricity $100 $100 Budget billing! We’ll see how this shakes out over the year.
Internet $100 $81 I think we’re on an intro offer for 3 months?
Garbage $45 $13 No need to dump the dumpster this month.
Gas $300 $441 So gas prices went up. A lot.
Groceries $600 $658 Ever a problem. I think this is high because we ate up everything we had to avoid moving food.
Restaurants $100 $85
Pet care $100 $213 Rover’s new vet wouldn’t refill his medication without an exam.
Clothing $50 $43 New pants! Men apparently use their clothes until they’re shredded? We’ve never been able to find B. clothes at any thrift store.
Daycare $792 $792
Sports/Entertainment $40 $0 I’m proud of this one.  Now that it’s nice, we’ve been spending most of our free time outside.
Miscellaneous $200 $198 Looks like this is some random stuff off Amazon (I think some allergy meds, a new watch band, etc.), updated drivers licenses and a couple trips to the dump (yay moving)!
Hair Care/Cosmetics $50 $17
B. Fun Money $50 $14 Go B.!
L. Fun Money $50 $51 Darn you $1 vending machine purchase.
Doctor $50 $23 I think some random labs?
Food-Drill $50 $0 B. had a four-day drill this month. I’m not sure what he did for food, but I didn’t have any expenditures come through.
House supplies $600 $602 Turns out moving is expensive. Especially when you haven’t owned a house in a few years.
Car parts $500 $641 We knew the cars needed some brakes, oil changes, etc.  Then some other stuff decided to break. B. fixed most of it himself, but parts still cost money!
CSA $350 $350 More on this in a future post. Suffice it to say, our garden is just getting off the ground this year.
Gym $100 $108 Still working out cost with B.’s crossfit gym…
World of Warcraft subscription $0 $78 Forgot this was coming due (and yes, we totally just outed ourselves as geeky computer game nerds…)

Total Spending

  • Planned: $5903
  • Actual: $6172
  • Percentage of income: 56%

Not the best. Not the worst.  Hopefully May will be better!

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January Budget Round-Up

I’m trying something new this month- rather than posting a budget at the beginning of the month and a round-up at the end, I’m just going to post the round-up post.  You’ll still see what we budgeted and how much we actually spent, but having both posts was starting to feel redundant.  So here goes!

Debt

  • Required payment: $1058
  • Planned overpayment: $1500
  • Actual overpayment: $1900
  • Total paid: $2958
  • Total owed: $124,597

It’s getting down there, people. It may not be fast and it’s certainly not glamorous, but having a clear plan and clear financial priorities can make a difference! (Assuming you have the luxury of choice in your budget- feel free to ignore me if you’re struggling to pay bills and put food on the table). 

Expenses

Expense Planned Spent Comments
Rent $1,300 $1,300
Utilities $414 $431 This was our “settle-up” month with the gas/electric company, where we had to settle the difference between our budget billed amount and our actual usage.  It was about a $75 difference, which was much better than last year’s $250…
Phone $51 $46
Netflix/Hulu $15 $15 We downgraded our Netflix account and added the most basic Hulu account. We’re going to try it this way for a few months and then see if we can reasonably get rid of one Netflix.  We both enjoy TV at night and this is much cheaper than cable.
Gas $300 $309 Gas is expensive.
Groceries $600 $707 I’m currently in the process of conducting a grocery audit, to better understand where our grocery dollars go. We’ve been consistently over since B. returned and I’d like to get that under control.
Restaurants $50 $68 We would have been on budget, but our landlords unexpectedly had to tear up our kitchen for a day, rendering cooking impossible. If we had some advance notice, we would have planned accordingly, but the problem they were fixing ended up being much more work than anticipated.
Pet care $300 $347 This is mostly medication. Having an old dog can get expensive, but he seems happier on all his new meds, so I’m happy about that.
Clothing $50 $20
Childcare $996 $996
Sports/ Entertainment $100 $97 This is mostly gymnastics.  It’s expensive, but we’re willing to prioritize it right now because it makes F. so happy!
Crossfit $99 $99
Miscellaneous $200 $172.17 Next up after the grocery audit is an audit of expenses that fall into this category…
Hair care/cosmetics $75 $63
Fun money-B $50 $20
Fun money-L $50 $44
Doctor $50 $10 Yay for good health!
Beachbody subscription $105 $105 This is a one-time charge for a year of access to all Beachbody workouts.  I prefer working out at home and I can access all the workouts from our existing Roku. If I end up not using it, I’ll just cancel.
Snow boots $150 $143 Part of the joy of living in the Midwest is having to deal with snow. Lots of snow. For some reason, B. no longer had a pair of good, warm snowboots and was out shoveling snow in his tennis shoes! In negative temperatures. Not a solid plan, so we went and got him a pair of good, warm, waterproof snow boots. Which of course have not been needed- now that we’re prepared, there has been no snow to speak of.
Earnest money $1,000 $1,000 Pretty sure this is getting returned to us at closing, but I guess it’s technically an expense for January?
Mortgage fees $440 $439 Fees for some part of our mortgage. Title work maybe? Appraisal? Who knows.
Car insurance $0 $271 We ended up purchasing a new insurance plan as part of purchasing our home insurance and bundled both together. However, we had to pay the car insurance premium right away and it was cheaper to pay for it upfront.  So we did.

Total Spending

  • Total planned spending: $6395
  • Actual spending: $6702
  • Net difference: -$307
  • Percentage of income: 72%

As you can see, we’re over by just about the amount that we spent on car insurance. It was definitely a rough budget month though.  Now that B. is no longer deployed, our percentage of income spending is going up, since his civilian job pays less than being deployed.

For some reason, groceries are becoming a problem. I’m hopeful that the grocery audit will provide some insight, but I’m really afraid that our biggest spending categories are going to be ones we’re most loathe to cut (like vegetables- we buy A LOT of vegetables).  More to come on that toward the end of February.

Monthly Budget Roundup- October

It’s the beginning of a new month, so time to go through the budget I posted at the beginning of the month and see how I did.  For this post, you’ll get to see the amount I budgeted in black and the final amount I spent in red or green (depending on whether it’s over or under budget).

Yucky, yucky debt

  • Planned payment: $1215 + $2800 = $4015
  • Actual payment: $4737

WOOHOO!

Necessities

  • Rent: $1300                                  $1300
  • Utilities: $280                               $244
  • Phone: $51                                    $41
  • Groceries: $500                            $499
  • Gas: $300                                       $103
  • Daycare: $996                               $996
  • B. Cash: $500                                 $356

Other Items

  • Netflix: $11                                     $11
  • Restaurants: $100                          $73
  • Pet care: $500                                 $461
  •  Clothing: $75                                  $71
  • Sports and entertainment: $75   $63
  • Miscellaneous: $200                      $244
  • Hair care/Cosmetics: $50              $47
  • Fun money: $100                           $80
  • Doctor: $50                                       $0
  • Maid: $200                                      $216
  • Lawn service: $150                       $148
  • F. Birthday present: $50               $59
  • Tree/Bush Trimming: $250          $0
  • WOW subscription: $78               $78
  • Charity: $50                                    $0

This month wasn’t too bad! I think I might be under, although that’s largely due to some un-cashed checks and a bill that never showed up. I’m guessing that the charge for trimming our bushes will show up on our next monthly bill, so that expense moved to November.  Additionally, the food bank has yet to cash our check so that will also move to November (I realize this is a weird way to budget, but carrying over money, especially relatively small amounts, is confusing and hard to remember).

I did pretty good with shopping for F. for her birthday, although I’m a little bit over. In my defense, some of the things I bought I’ll give to her for Christmas, but we have a free Prime trial right now, so I wanted to take advantage of free shipping while we have it. Plus, how could I resist the lure of these totally amazing (i.e. hideously ugly) shoes??

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70% off, for some reason…

My other (way over) category was miscellaneous spending.  I’m honestly not totally sure what happened here, but a last minute package shipped overseas + a birthday present shipped to my grandmother sent this into the red. Oh well.

Overall, I was under on a LOT of budget categories this month, so I’m going to count it as a win!

Final Spending Tally (excluding debt) 

  • Planned: $5941
  • Spent: $5090
  • Percent of total income: 53%

Woohoo! Almost $1000 under budget.  How did you do this month?

October Budget

Here’s our budget for October- a few extra things, but this looks pretty good!

Yucky Yucky Debt

  • $139,302 – I’m going to just celebrate the fact that we’re under $140k. Celebrate the wins, celebrate the wins…
  • Planned payments: $1215
  • Planned over-payment: at least $2800

This should be easily attainable. It’s a four-Friday month and we have very few extra expenses planned this month. I’m hoping to have more than $2800 left at the end of the month.

Necessities

  • Rent: $1300
  • Utilities: $280
  • Phone: $51
  • Groceries: $500- I know it’s only a four Friday month, but a Sam’s Club trip is in order, so I’m not sure we’ll make it with only $400.
  • Gas: $300- I may or may not be going on a trip later this month, so I’m making sure to budget a little extra for gas in case that pans out.  Plus, gas prices have gone up a bit so gas has been costing a bit more. Or maybe I’m driving more. Not sure.
  • Daycare: $996
  • B. Cash: $500- We’ll see if this covers it- as his return date approaches(!!!), he may need slightly more to start shipping some of his stuff home. We’ll see.

Other Items

  • Netflix: $11- So affordable.  So wonderful.
  • Restaurants: $100
  • Pet care: $500- The dog is badly in need of having his teeth cleaned (turns out that being bitten every time is a good way to avoid brushing teeth. Don’t do this- it costs so much more later, I didn’t even realize. Plus, he’s more at risk of infection now until they get cleaned up).  The vet doesn’t know exactly how much it’ll cost (see above: biting- so far, she hasn’t been able to accurately assess what needs done) so I’m hoping that $500 is the high side of things.
  •  Clothing: $75- We’re mostly set for winter (I think) so we shouldn’t need much this month for clothing. I think I need some new tights for cold weather (as mine conveniently waited until winter was over last year to develop holes), but otherwise, spending here should be minimal.
  • Sports and entertainment: $75- Gymnastics plus miscellaneous.
  • Miscellaneous: $200
  • Hair care/Cosmetics: $50
  • Fun money: $100
  • Doctor: $50
  • Maid: $200
  • Lawn service: $150- Why oh why is the grass still growing?? A very rainy and hot September has led to a lot of grass growth.  JUST QUIT. Summer is over. Stop growing.
  • F. Birthday present: $50- F’s birthday is coming up and I want to get her something for her birthday. I’m not sure whether I’m going to get her an actual present or instead use that money for a birthday day of adventures with her. Just mommy and F. 🙂  I asked her if she wanted a party or to just spend the day with mommy and she picked spending the day with me 🙂 So that’s what we’re doing for her birthday.
  • Tree/Bush Trimming: $250- We are the (un)proud renters of a house that has a TON of bushes, all of which need to be trimmed back each year (This, right here is what I hate bushes. Too much work. I hate yard work).  I’m not totally confident in my ability to handle the electric trimmer, plus time is at more of a premium right now, so we’re hiring someone to do this.
  • WOW subscription: $78 (yearly subscription)
  • Charity: $50- The Food Bank of Iowa sent me a thing in the mail asking for donations, so I’m donating. Direct mail works, people.

You may notice that I don’t have anything budgeted here for Halloween.  We generally forgo any Halloween “events,” largely because B., F. and I all hate crowds of people.  And Halloween events are always crowded.  We usually just go trick or treat around our neighborhood on Halloween- it’s a great way to meet your neighbors! Our candy purchases get folded into the grocery budget (eggs or candy? decisions, decisions…) and a costume for F. usually gets folded into the clothing budget.  Last year, she went as a Care Bear (wearing the delightful Goodwill-purchased Care Bear costume below) and this year decided she wanted to be a Care Bear again.  Done and done.

Fiona Care Bear

The cutest little care bear ever.

Total Planned Expenses

  • $5941
  • Percent of total income: 59% – Higher than I would like, but c’est la vie. Pets are expensive. So are bushes.

Monthly Budget Roundup- September

It’s the beginning of a new month, so time to go through the budget I posted at the beginning of the month and see how I did.  For this post, you’ll get to see the amount I budgeted in black and the final amount I spent in red or green (depending on whether it’s over or under budget).

Yucky yucky debt

  • Planned: $1215 plus at least $2800 at the end of the month
  • Spent: $1215 plus $3500 at the end of the month
  • Total: $4715 ($715 over our $4000 target- YAY!)

Necessities

  • Rent: $1300                                      $1300
  • Utilities: $280                                  $271
  • Phone: $51                                       $42
  • Groceries: $500                               $493
  • Gas: $200                                          $149
  • Daycare: $1245                               $1241
  • B. Cash: $500                                   $532

Other Items

  • Netflix: $11                                     $11
  • Restaurants: $100                         $96
  • Pet care: $20                                  $42
  • Clothing: $150                               $81
  • Sports & Entertainment: $100   $93
  • Miscellaneous: $200                    $193
  • Hair Care/Cosmetics: $100         $59
  • Her money: $100                         $72
  • Doctor: $50                                    $0
  • Maid: $200                                    $198
  • Lawn Service: $75                       $74
  • Thank you gift: $75                     $50
  • Soccer: $90                                   $90

Look at that, guys! After a rash of bad budget months, I think I might actually be under our planned spending for September!! This month has been great- I only ended up over on two categories.  The first is vet- the dog did need a prescription refill, but said prescription refill was more expensive because his dose needed adjusting.

Second is B., who had a few unexpected expenses this month (like a new laptop keyboard) that upped his spending.  I won’t give him too much grief though- he regularly stays within the $500 we budget. 🙂

And, as predicted, now that I remembered to budget money toward medical expenses, none occurred.  F. was sick, but Tricare pays for everything 100% while B. is deployed so we didn’t end up incurring any expenses.

Here’s hoping October continues the trend of good spending!

Final Spending Tally (excluding debt) 

  • Planned: $5157
  • Actual: $5087
  • Percent of total income: 50%

(For those of you following along with the math, that means that we put roughly 47% of our income toward student loans this month. UGH but yay?)

Tune in tomorrow for October’s budget.  How did your month go?

September Budget

Oy vey! I am not doing well at keeping up with things around here. It’s already September 7th and I’m just getting around to posting my budget for the month. Accountability fail. *sigh* Oh well. Here it is!

Yucky yucky debt

  • $143,464
  • Planned payments: $1215
  • Planned overpayment: at least $2800

It’s going to be tight- but I think it’ll work out.  September is a 5-Friday month, meaning five grocery trips instead of four and five daycare payments (blech). So things are a little tighter this month.

Necessities

  • Rent: $1300
  • Utilities: $280-  our gas/electric budget billing went up yet again. This is a constant struggle, because our house has extremely variable temperatures depending on location. The HVAC is inappropriately sized for the house, so I often have to set the thermostat higher/lower than I’d like in order to reach something approaching comfort. Or use space heaters. It’s a lose/lose either way.
  • Phone: $51
  • Groceries: $500- This is going to be tight, because I usually budget this much for a four week month and this month has five Fridays. We’ll see how I do!
  • Gas: $200- I haven’t been using this much, but I’m thinking about going to visit some of Brian’s family in September, which would require a little more gas.
  • Daycare: $1245- Five week month= five daycare payments.
  • B. Cash: $500

Other Items

  • Netflix: $11 – Good old Netflix. So much cheaper than cable.
  • Restaurants: $100
  • Pet care: $20- I anticipate having to replace one medication, but thankfully, the vet trips are done for awhile.
  • Clothing: $150- Higher this month because F. needs boots, hats and coats for winter. It’s starting to get cold in the air so I’m starting to think about getting our fall clothing rounded up. I need some a few new items as well, to replace some that gave out at the end of last winter.
  • Sports & Entertainment: $100- Gymnastics class and a tickets to a super fun nature event this month.
  • Miscellaneous: $200
  • Hair Care/Cosmetics: $100- Higher this month as well.  When my sister was in town, the two of us went to get pedicures, sans children.  I regret nothing. 🙂
  • Her money: $100
  • Doctor: $50- Now that I budgeted for it, I won’t need it this month. Right? Right?! (Please please please let my child stay healthy…)
  • Maid: $200
  • Lawn Service: $75
  • Thank you present for my mother: $75- Mom very nicely watched F. while I was in Chicago last month and also watched my (very annoying) dog for a week while my sister and brother-in-law were visiting. So I got her a Starbucks gift card as a thank-you.
  • Soccer: $90 – Daycare is offering an 8 week soccer lesson, so I signed F. up. Lord knows she needs every opportunity to run, plus this way she’ll get some extra outside time during the week.  Win/win and a bargain at $90.

Total Planned Expenses

  • $5157
  • Percent of total income: 55%

High, but not bad. We’ll see how the end of the month shakes out. Maybe I’ll make my goal of spending less than I’d planned…

August Budget

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DEBT OWED: $146,869 (roughly)

August Budget

Yucky yucky debt

  • Minimum payment: $1300
  • Planned overpayment: at least $2000 in addition to the $1300 budgeted

Necessities

  • Rent: $1300
  • Utilities: $260
  • Cell Phone: $50
  • Groceries: $600- This is higher this month because I know I need a bunch of things at Sam’s Club and that’s never an inexpensive trip. Also, the freezer is out of meat. I gratefully accepted a bunch of pork and beef from my dad, but I’m thinking I need to stock up on some chicken if it goes on sale.
  • Gas: $200
  • Car insurance: $350- Because we drive 15 and 12 year old cars, respectively, our car insurance is pretty affordable. Also, living in a safe are doesn’t hurt either. Because it’s so affordable, we prefer to just take the hit twice a year and pay the whole bill, rather than saving a little toward it each month. We used to do that, it was confusing, this is easier.
  • Daycare: $980
  • Vet: $300- Our dog is due for his yearly check-up, a whole bunch of shots, a medication refill and a bath/toenail cut (I pay someone to do this because I dislike being bitten repeatedly)
  • B.: $500- B. is in charge of managing his own money while deployed. He gets $500, he can spend it any way he wants.

Other expenses

  • Maid: $250- Covering three visits instead of two because the month worked out weird
  • Lawn Care: $150- I think this is high, considering that most of my grass appears to be dead, but we’ll see. I only pay if they actually mow the lawn, so I won’t be paying for it if they don’t need to mow.
  • Clothing: $100
  • Gymnastics: $48
  • Restaurants: $100
  • Netflix: $11
  • Hair/Cosmetics: $50
  • Fun money: $100
  • Miscellaneous: $200
  • Charity: $65- We tend to do most of our charity spending right around the end of the year, but will occasionally spend during the year as opportunities arise. This month’s purchase was $65 worth of school supplies to donate to our local community for students and teachers in need.
  • Vacation: $300- I’m going on vacation in August! Just me, sans toddler- I’m really looking forward to it.

Total planned expenses (excluding debt): $5914

% of projected monthly income: 63%– This is a little higher than I prefer, but we have quite a few extra expenses this month, both necessary (vet, car insurance) and frivolous (vacation).  Oh well. I think September will look better.

We set our budget every month using Every Dollar. The free version is pretty good, but the paid version allows you to link up your bank accounts and any credit cards you may have. It also has a mobile app and both are incredibly easy to use. 

July Budget

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DEBT OWED: $153,000 (roughly) 

July Budget

Yucky yucky debt

  • Minimum payment: $1400
  • Planned extra payment: no less than $2500 (this is above and beyond the $1400 we would normally pay, so a grand total of roughly $4000 toward debt)

Necessities

  • Rent: $1300
  • Utilities: $260
  • Cell Phone: $50
  • Groceries: $500
  • Gas: $200
  • Daycare: $980
  • Maid: $206 (Trust me, with a deployed husband and a two year old, this is a necessity at the moment. Sanity and sleep allow me to make better choices in budget areas we usually suck at. Like eating out. Oh McDonalds, why are you so close to my house and on the way home from work??)
  • Lawn care: $150 (again, deployed husband + two year old. I feel really grateful that we can afford these small luxuries while Brian is away.)
  • Brian: $500 (Brian is in charge of managing his own money while he’s deployed. I just give him a chunk of money to work with. How he spends it is his own business.)

Other expenses

  • Clothing: $200- This is high this month. I realized that I have exactly zero pairs of shorts (note to self- clothing purging CAN be taken too far) and it’s hot.  Plus F (my rambunctious two-year old) WILL NOT STOP GROWING and has about grown out of the 3T wardrobe I purchased for her approximately two months ago.  So new (to us) clothes it is.
  • Gymnastics: $48
  • Restaurants: $100 (eating out has really declined as taking the toddler out to eat alone is a mildly terrifying prospect)
  • Netflix: $10 (because it’s cheaper than cable, but not by a lot because our Internet is freaking expensive)
  • Hair Care/Cosmetics: $100 (higher this month because I had a rare morning where I didn’t have to work but F had daycare and I got a pedicure! For the first time since…hmmm… I think my best friend’s wedding like 7 years ago. It was glorious. See you again in 7 years, oh great and relaxing pedicure chair)
  • Fun money: $100 (Mine to do whatever I want with over the course of a month. Lunch out? Afternoon coffee date? All coming out of this fund)
  • Miscellaneous: $200 (Because I’m terrible at budgeting (STILL!), I need a “slush fund” to catch random things that come up during the month.  It’s always capped at $200 because otherwise, I could probably find a lot of things I “need”)

Total planned expenditures (excluding debt payments): $4704

% of projected monthly income: about 50% (which is what we like to see!) 

We set our budget every month using Every Dollar. I love this software- it’s linked to both our bank account and our one credit card (that we never ever use except right now because it has lower international fees for my husband).