October – December 2016 Quarterly Budget Review

Budget Review

Each quarter I share a quarterly budget review of our spending so you can see the breakdown of how we allocate our money. It’s also great accountability for me and helps Dave and I to see how we are stewarding our finances.

Budget Review: October – December 2016 (actual spending)
budget breakdown piechartWhat happened this quarter?

Extra mortgage payments
The home-slice is bigger this quarter because we rented out our home for a weekend and came out with $450 profit that went toward our mortgage principal. We also have bi-weekly payments set up which results in 13 payments each year vs 12 payments. That extra payment happened this quarter. Wahoo!

Holiday gifts
We have a little money automatically transferred into a savings account each month so when the holidays come around we already have money accounted for to buy gifts. Of course, most of the gift-buying happened this quarter.

New wardrobe
Mama got a new wardrobe! I got 8 tops, a hoodie, a bathing suit, and a maxi dress for $125! I usually shop via Thred Up but I discovered Bellelily.com and snagged some great deals. This doesn’t show up in the pie chart because we had some bonus cash from credit card points so that covered the purchase.

dinner dateOur most expensive date ever
We met with a couple for pre-marital counseling and as a gift they gave us a $100 gift card to a super nice restaurant in the area. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you know how cheap and frugal we are; I’m not sure we’ve ever spent more than $50 on dinner. It was fun to look at the FOOD on the menu first instead of the PRICE 😀 Of course we ended up picking the two most expensive things on the menu (duck and seabass) plus we got an appetizer and drinks. Our total actually came out to $99 so the $25 we spent out of pocket went toward the tip!

How much did your most expensive date cost?

Quarterly Budget Review: July – September 2016

budget reviewEach quarter I share a quarterly budget review of our spending so you can see the breakdown of how we allocate our money. It’s also great accountability for me and helps Dave and I to see how we are stewarding our finances.

Budget Review: July – September 2016 (actual spending)
summer 2016 budget review
What happened this quarter?

Annual fees
Not a big slice of pie but our annual fees for my RD (Registered Dietitian) license & Dave’s PE license were due. Womp womp.

dietitian groupNational Summit
Thankfully the annual Beachbody summit was in Nashville this year so the only expenses I had was from gas and groceries since we stayed with my sister & brother-in-law and I packed my own lunches for the day so I didn’t have to eat out. I snagged a photo with a handful of fellow dietitians at the conference!

High school Reunion!
My 10-year high school reunion was this summer. I was a bit disappointed by how much it cost and that people I was hoping would come didn’t show but I still had fun connecting with old friends. This was more than our entertainment budget so to us it was a big chunk for our spending.

NoraHair cuts

Nora’s got her first hair cut at 2.5 years old. Her hair is amazing and people pay big bucks to get her highlights and natural curls. It was just getting tangled easily with all the swimming we did this summer. We took her to a cute boutique shop for kids since they had a 1st cut deal for $15 but I may attempt to do it myself down the road since I’m not thrilled about paying $20+ for a trim. I also got my first hair cut of the year! I’ve only ever dyed my hair twice and it was a quick 30-day one that faded so I guess this is one way we save money since I don’t need to keep up with color or a certain cut.

New kicks

I am a simpleton. After 3 years of wearing out my one pair of summer sandals I gave in and bought a new pair of sandals. However, I go on walks with the girls a LOT and I knew the flat sandals I was using were not doing my feet any good so we invested in a good pair for me. I am so happy with my Keens and while it’s the most I’ve spent on shoes ($67 after coupons and a promo code) they are worth it.

square dancingEntertainment
We’ve kept our entertainment budget at $50/month for awhile now so that means we have to get creative with how we spend it. We never go out for a full dinner since that would blow through the budget quickly so we find fun, creative ideas. This quarter we went on coffee dates, played tennis, went on a fishing trip with my dad, Oktoberfest in Cleveland, Forro (Brazilian) dancing lessons, and we went square dancing with my parents and the girls at a local cider mill. My face hurt from smiling so much. Best $10 we spent on entertainment 🙂

Grocery bill back on track
I did a pantry challenge with my nutrition/fitness accountability group in September and it helped me prioritize the food we already had in our home rather than buying more stuff. We went over $13 one month and under $14 another!

Biweekly mortgage payments
We have biweekly payments set up for our mortgage (ex. If your mortgage was $1000/month you’d pay $500 every two weeks so you end up making 13 payments each year instead of 12 to get ahead of schedule). This means that two months each year there is an extra half payment. This month was one of them so that explains why the ‘home’ slice (ha) is bigger this month.

3 paycheck month
Something unique that we do is rather than dividing Dave’s salary into 12 months we budget based on two paychecks per month. Twice each year Dave gets 3 paychecks in one month so those “extra” paychecks go toward our financial goals. We had an “extra” paycheck month this quarter so it went toward our new (to us) car savings. Lord willing we’d like to add to our family but I’m not sure we can fit a 3rd child into the back of our Chevy Cruze so we’re saving up for a bigger family car and slowly adding to our “new car” folder in our Capital One 360 account which is why the ‘transportation’ pie slice is much larger this quarter. I would love to hear recommendations if you love your family-size vehicle!

What do you use to track your expenses?

Quarterly Budget Review: April – June 2016

Each quarter I share a quarterly budget review of our spending so you can see the breakdown of how we allocate our money. It’s also great accountability for me and helps Dave and I to see how we are stewarding our finances.

budget review April - June

Budget Review: January – March 2016 (actual spending)
What happened this quarter?

hfm classesSpeaking engagements
This spring I had the opportunity to offer two sessions at the Hemophilia Foundation of Michigan’s annual conference. I taught my nutrition basics class and my favorite workout, PiYo! I had so much fun, had a great turnout, and look forward to next year. Through this and another class I was invited to teach at a local public library, they brought in a fun paycheck. I can’t believe I get paid to do what I do.

Goodbye to staff writing
For the past 5 years I’ve been a staff writer over at Life and My Finances. I found Derek’s blog when I was fresh out of college, newly married and $30,000 in debt from student loans. I followed Derek for his simple and straightforward financial tips which led to him inviting me to write for him. This wasn’t a big time commitment but I didn’t anticipate my online business venture as a stay-at-home-mom-dietitian to grow the way it has been so I wanted to be diligent about what I spent my time doing.

boflex dumbbells
Home gym

This was one of our 2016 goals! We got Boflex dumbbells earlier this year which were a great thing to have for doing p90x3 and my current workout plan. We made the investment and now our basement has a bench, a squat rack, barbell, bumper plates, and pull up rings hanging from an I-beam. Dave did pass his Professional Engineering (PE) License exam (of course) so we put his bonus toward this! He works in a cubicle 9 hours a day so having this home gym has been such a great outlet for him and it will pay off quickly compared to both of us having a gym membership that offers childcare. These purchases fell under the Personal/Health category because we view it as an investment in our health!

zoo trip

Grocery budget oops
We went over on our grocery budget quite a bit in June because we threw a party for Dave passing his PE exam. Dave’s bonus covered the extra but that explains why the grocery percentage is a little higher than usual this quarter.

Car repairs
Sigh… without going into details because I don’t know cars- we had to replace some stuff. I am SO thankful my dad knows cars and Dave was able to help him fix it up. I had initially taken the car in for an oil change and something they said was wrong was going to cost THOUSANDS of dollars but of course, I phoned Daddy to hear his opinion to which he said it was an easy fix. It cost us $50…

etta ponytail

We got a new pancake griddle and it now has a permanent spot on our counter top. I just love it so much. Why didn’t we get one 6 years ago for our wedding registry?? Other fun stuff- Nora got a puddle jumper (swim vest), Dave bought some drywall stuff for a mini project in our kitchen, we had some baby showers and a few other little things.

Also, this needs a paragraph of it’s own. Nora and Dave were walking to the pool together and he bent over to pick her up and ripped his swim trunks. Thankfully no one was mooned in the process. I guess his butt is getting bigger from all the weight lifting he’s been doing 🙂 🙂 🙂 Therefore we went shopping for another swim suit!

Well that’s it for this quarter! I’m not sure how many of you read this or benefit from it but it’s been super helpful for us to see where we are spending money so we can tweak our budget and make sure we’re staying on track.

How do you track your budget? App? Excel? Mint.com?

Quarterly Budget Review: January – March 2016

Each quarter I share a quarterly budget review of our spending so you can see the breakdown of how we allocate our money. It’s also great accountability for me and helps Dave and I to see how we are stewarding our finances.

quarterly budget review january through march 2016

Budget Review: January – March 2016 (actual spending)
What happened this quarter?

EttaNoraEar piercing
This wasn’t a huge expense but it was out of the ordinary and fun so I figure I can include it. We got Nora and Etta’s ears pierced at the same time! If you are wondering the ideal time to do this; it’s young as in less than one year. Nora hated it and took forever to get the second one done but Etta was in and out in 2 minutes. 

Tax refund
Thanks to Etta, we got a decent tax refund this year which led to a lower tax/tithe pie slice than usual and a higher percentage toward the transportation slice. Here’s what we put it toward:

New car savings
We got a new (to us) car in 2014 and know that if our family is going to grow in the next couple of years we will not be able to fit everything we want in our Chevy Cruze. We estimated what we can get by selling it and then decided to also set Dave’s 3rd paycheck aside to go toward a new (to us) vehicle. Thankfully we’ve been able to easily share 1 car for the past 6 years of marriage since Dave can walk/bike to work so we’ll continue that luxury for now rather than adding a second vehicle.

If you check back on what we’ve done whenever we got a tax refund over the past 5 years it’s been mortgage, mortgage, mortgage….mortgage, mortgage. With two kids around it’s been a joyful and tiring 2.5 years at the same time so after a lot of thought we decided to invest part of our refund toward a REAL vacation in spring 2017. Etta will be weaned at this point so I won’t have to worry about bottles or pumping (mom win!) on this vacation. We’d love to add to our family so this season seems to be the best timing to do a vacation like this just the two of us. We have such a hard time not being uber cheap when it comes to vacations (we spent $200 on our 5-year anniversary and maybe spent that TOTAL for the 4 previous years) so for this occasion we set aside a lump sum for an all-inclusive type. We haven’t decided where yet but we’ll have at least one of our flights covered by sky miles. I can already smell the beach and the mint from my mojito…

New tires
I was able to make it home before the notice appeared on my dashboard that air was quickly escaping a front tire. We put a donut on and got them replaced the next day. I’m very thankful that we have an emergency fund but we didn’t even have to dip into it since the government held on to so much of our moneyyyyy.

boflex dumbbellsHome gym
This was one of our 2016 goals! Ever since we canceled our gym memberships for good we’ve been dreaming about getting a home gym set up in our basement. Dave had been studying a ton for his professional engineering licensing exam for 6 months and took it in April. If he passes (he doesn’t find out until June-ish) we’ve decided to put the bonus he gets from his company for passing the exam toward this endeavor. So far we added some boflex dumbbells which I’m loving for my p90x3 workouts. We plan to add a barbell, bumper plates, bench and a squat rack. It’s a significant cost up front but it pays off in about 2 years when you consider the cost for both of us to have gym memberships and added childcare for 2 kids. Who wants to come over for a workout?

What did you put your tax return toward (if applicable)? Do you do the same thing every year or decide year by year?

2016 goals

2016 goalsI never set real goals for myself until I started this blog 4 years ago. We’ve been able to accomplish so much in less than 5 years! It’s one thing to set a vague example (like “try to make extra payments our mortgage”) compared to setting a SMART goal like paying an extra $10,000 toward your mortgage this year.

Here’s to another year of smart goal setting!

2016 goals

#1 Max out our Roth IRAs
We have automatic withdrawals set up to fund our Roth IRAs but now that we are only budgeting off of Dave’s income our scheduled monthly allocations alone will not get us to this goal. We budget in a unique way in that we only budget for income from 2 paychecks per month but there are two months each year when there are 3 paydays in the month. I’m sure these two “extra” paychecks will go toward this goal as well as any annual bonus or raise Dave gets.

#2: Help more people with their nutrition and fitness goals
I had the false understanding that if I wasn’t employed by someone and working a “real” 9-5 job that I wasn’t making use of my dietetics degree. I started off with a few “real” dietetics jobs by working for a hospital, teaching at a community college, and at and local health department. Since I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom someday this was one of my reasons to start Budget for Health. I know I shouldn’t expect feedback from people I’ve inspired but it really fuels my excitement for what I’m doing here. Now that I’m running my nutrition and fitness challenge groups I’ve loved seeing how much more I can help people by still being a stay-at-home mom since I get to set my own hours and “work” from home. I’m confident that lives will be changed this year and I get to be a part of people’s journey by offering accountability and support.

#3 Start building our home gym
Dave and I love lifting weights and dream about having our own home gym. We aren’t looking to become body builders but it’s one of our favorite forms of exercise and being able to do some kind of physical activity every day has a huge impact on our mood and energy levels. However, the only weights we currently have in our home are 2-pound dumbbells since we’ve used weights at a gym in the past so we are basically starting from scratch. Having our own equipment would definitely pay off within a couple of years compared to paying a monthly gym membership since we’d use it every day. Dave has his eyes set on a barbell set that will cost around $1,000 with the amount of weight we want so that’s first up on our list. We bought a chin up bar as a Christmas present for each other so it looks like birthday and Christmas gifts are going to be adding to our home gym from here on out!

#4 New City Catechisms
I typed out all 52 catechisms and put them on notecards last year but we fell behind and eventually stopped going through them. Dave and I set this goal together to focus on one each week. It would be great to memorize them all but the long term plan is to go through them every year and they will stick to memory more over time. There’s even a shortened version for kids and an interactive iPad app we love!

Here are our goals from 2012, 2013, and 2014, and 2015 if you want to see all we’ve accomplished. Some are my own goals but I say “our” because Dave plays a huge role in most of them.

What are your 2016 goals?

Child expenses: year two

child expensesWe spent a total of $150 to prepare for Nora’s arrival and $2,230 on child-related expenses for year one. Since Nora will be two TOMORROW (wow time flies!) this post seemed fitting to share now. This post is by no means a way of saying “here’s how to do it right” because there are so many variables when it comes to child-related expenses. I’ve shared why it’s worth the cost to be a stay-at-home mom for us so if anything this post is just a fun way for me to see how our child expenses were allocated for the year.

Here’s the breakdown:

$1,275 babysitter
$261 gym childcare
$180 diapers, wipes, detergent
$14 clothing
$2300 for college funds
$33 miscellaneous
$4,063 Total expenses

I worked part time for our church from January through October. I worked an average of 15 hours but I only used a sitter for maybe 5 hours each week since I could do most of the work from home. My parents live 40 minutes away and my dad is retired so he would hang out with Nora one day a week while I got stuff done. I joined a gym for 7 months and took advantage of their childcare services.

why i use cloth diapersDiapers
Our cloth diapers were a big chunk of our expenses in 2014 but since they are reusable we just had to buy a few packs of disposable diapers this year. I use Nellie’s detergent for the diapers but I only had to buy one container this year ($18). I mentioned this last year but I’m not sure how to account for the energy cost of washing a load of diapers every 2-3 days. Friends of ours were given 12 cloth diapers but since they didn’t plan to use them I got them for free! That’s a HUGE gift when you consider cloth diapers cost around $20 each. I don’t pack cloth diapers if we’re going to be gone for more than two nights so that’s why we keep disposables around. Since newborns poop so much in the first few months I won’t start using the cloth diapers until Etta is 2-3 months old. I estimated how many newborn and size 1 disposables I’d need for Etta and stocked up with great deals I found at CVS thanks to Southern Savers and another deal at ePantry thanks to Andrea Dekker. When family asked what Etta wanted for Christmas I asked for size 2 diapers since I’m reusing all of Nora’s clothes and don’t really need any new baby stuff.

nora bathing suitClothing
The only item of clothing I bought this year was a $14 bathing suit for Nora. My aunt works for a clothing bank so we get a ton of clothes for free in addition to hand-me-downs from friends and any clothes the girls get as gifts.

College fund
We put $100/month in Nora’s college fund. She got $100 from my grandparents for Christmas and so did Etta. We needed $1,000 minimum to open an account with the investing company we chose for the girls’ ESA (education savings account) so that’s how we started Etta off. Everyone has their priorities and reasons for where they put their money; we want to get the full match for Dave’s 401k and max out our Roth IRAs every year so the education fund comes second. Now that I’m not working anymore our budget has room to continue putting $100/month in Nora’s account but we will catch Etta up on months when Dave has a 3rd paycheck.

Food isn’t in this total number. It’s hard to estimate how much we spend on food for Nora but our average grocery spending is actually $40 less on average per month for 2015 compared to 2014 (Nora was born January 2014). I don’t buy “kid food” since I just aim for PFC balanced meals for Nora as well, even when she was a baby. I’d mash up a banana, avocado, and Greek yogurt (not together!) rather than paying a pretty penny for jars of baby food. There have been few occasions where I’ve bought those veggie pouches for a fun treat.

nora sunglassesMiscellaneous
We bought some hair ties & clips from the dollar store, Nora got her first pair of sunglasses from the dollar bin at Target, I got a clay ornament kit to put Etta’s handprint and footprint in, and we paid the fee to get Etta’s birth certificate. That’s it!

What are your biggest child-related expenses?

Quarterly Budget Review: October – December 2015

Each quarter I share a quarterly budget review of our spending so you can see the breakdown of how we allocate our money. It’s also great accountability for me and helps Dave and I to see how we are stewarding our finances.

Budget Review: October – December 2015 (actual spending)
What happened this quarter?

My last month working part time
I got my past paycheck in October so 100% of our income is from Dave’s paychecks. I was teaching a nutrition for a home care provider class twice a month at the community college but the provider decided to drop all of the orientation classes (including mine) except medications. I applied to teach my own nutrition class and it got approved so I’ll start teaching again this summer but in the meantime we don’t have that income anymore.

My new “job”
Since I canceled my gym membership I wanted to make sure I set myself up with accountability to exercise and eat right while managing two kids under two years old. I had been in a nutrition and fitness challenge group before when Nora was 6 months old and it’s how I got introduced to the workout programs PiYo and T25. I loved PiYo so I got certified to teach my own classes and I decided just before Etta was born to become a Beachbody coach since I was already doing what coaches usually do and using their workout programs. I’ve loved running challenge groups and I’m excited for all the lives I can impact beyond here at Budget for Health!

Etta Etta’s arrival
Etta was born on November 6th! I mentioned in my child expenses: year two post that we opened up a college fund for Etta. It required a $1,000 minimum deposit to open an account with our investor so that’s why that pie slice is bigger than usual. Having a baby was great for our gas and grocery budget since we received a ton of meals from friends and we didn’t drive much (plus gas is so cheap right now!).

Nora’s (and Etta’s) first movie theater experience
This wasn’t a significant financial event but it was our first time in the movie theater since before Nora was born two years ago! We usually wait until movies are available to rent via RedBox because we are so cheap but we spent a whopping $14 on movie tickets to see the Good Dinosaur. We didn’t buy any food at the theater because, again, we are cheap. Kids 2 and under were free so we just paid for our two tickets. Etta slept on me and Nora was focused the entire movie! Side note- I don’t recommend the movie; the previews made it look funny but it was actually sad and scary and the dinosaur gets knocked unconscious by something in every other scene.

HSA & Roth IRA boost
I already wrote and update as to why we shifted our focus from extra mortgage payments to maxing out our Roth IRAs so I’ll move on to the HSA part. Since Etta’s birth counted as a “qualifying event” we opted to take a big chunk out of Dave’s last two paychecks to top off our HSA and take advantage of the tax break. The “health” pie slice looks bigger for that reason but it usually looks about the same each budget review since we take a lump sum out of Dave’s paycheck each month. This means we already had the money saved up to pay for the hospital bills before Etta was born. I’m thankful for this option.

Christmas shopping
Similar to our HSA, we set aside money each month for gifts- wedding, birthday, Christmas… any gifts. The pie slice stays the same because we do this even though most of the gift-getting happens during this quarter.

What are you looking forward to in the new year?