Budget Review: July – September 2013

Waterton Lakes National Park

Oh my gosh! Where did time go?! These quarterly updates come so fast. My April – June budget review was full of so many new and exciting events it kind of makes this review look boring! Let’s get right to it.

Budget Review July – September 2013 (Actual Spending)
Budget Review July- September 2013

What happened this quarter?
1. We bought a couch for our condo. That puts a big dent in the “miscellaneous category.” My mom found an awesome deal off Craigslist while we were in Canada so they picked it up for us and we paid them back. It looks lovely with our new rug my mom also got a great bargain on!
new couch and rug

2. Dave’s parents came to visit us in Calgary! I couldn’t believe how much we fit into one week. Our entertainment budget was a little higher than normal that month but we made sure to spend less in the following months.
Lake Morraine

3. Our electric bill was almost nothing since our friends started renting our condo in July.

4. We made a double, triple, and even a quadruple mortgage payment on our principal! We’re taking advantage of the few expenses and extra income we’ll have during our time in Calgary. This will not be the case when we move back to Michigan.

5. My sister got married in September! We set aside some money each month starting about 6 months ago so we’d be set for vacation expenses. We didn’t do much spending at all while in Nashville but we wired my parents money to help cover the cost of the house we rented and helping with groceries. We also paid for our ticket prior to this quarter review (one of our tickets only cost $40!).

sister's wedding

Past Quarterly Budget Reviews
October — December 2012
January – March 2013
April – June 2013

Budget Review: January – March 2013

Every 3 months I’ll post an update showing how our money was allocated for the quarter. Consider this quarterly budget review a tool I’ll use so you can hold me accountable to reaching our 2013 goals!

What happened since our last quarterly budget review?
WE OFFICIALLY BECAME HOMEOWNERS! It only shows 15 % of our income going toward the house category because we had been setting aside money monthly so when the time came to write a check it was already accounted for in our budget sheet.
We paid an extra month of rent to get out of our lease but we also got 2 weeks of rent from the people who were in our condo during the time between closing and when we got the keys.
– We owed money from our taxes. That category took quite a hit!
Hubs got an annual bonus and a raise in March. This also bumped the tax category up.
– We splurged and bought a TV in February
– We totally went over our entertainment budget in February and March by about $50 total. We ended up subtracting that from our house savings.
– I started training for a half marathon this week! I’m not sure which one I’ll be doing yet but I’m on a 12 week training schedule. The best part is that it still lets me do Body Pump 🙂

January – March 2013 (actual spending)

Past Budget Reviews:
January – March 2012
April – June 2012
July — September 2012
October — December 2012

How are your 2013 goals coming along?


We bought a home! Another way to put it– we’re back in debt! We actually closed almost exactly a year to date since we became 100% debt free. At least this is better debt than our student loans since we were not building equity with them. We closed on our condo March 14th officially became homeowners! It wasn’t as climactic as I  was hoping because we didn’t get our keys at closing; the seller was renting out the condo and we gave the renters time to find another place. They found a place but couldn’t move in until April 1st so we’re temporarily landlords for 2 weeks until it’s finally time to move in.

House hunting
The whole house-hunting process went well. When we started looking in November we knew we wanted to live in a particular neighborhood so Dave can still walk or bike to work. That limited us to only seeing 4-5 condos and making 3 total offers. The final offer we made also had about 3 other offers but I believe ours won because we shared that we could be flexible with the closing date since our apartment lease wasn’t up until May. We found our realtor through a friend and he was such a great help and made us feel confident as first time home-buyers.

The closing
The coolest part of the closing: The title company was in a former bank they remodeled, so the closing was actually held in a pimped out vault! I would have taken pictures if it wouldn’t have been awkward. Everything went smoothly but we did leave with a couple frustrations. The first problem was that we initially had an interest rate locked in but for various reasons we ended up closing with a rate 0.5% higher. The second annoying part was that again, for various reasons, we ended up putting 5% down instead of 20% like we originally hoped to do. Because we only put 5% down we had money left in our home savings. Due to a lack of communication we missed out on a lower PMI rate since we didn’t use the extra money we had to put toward the down payment. What’s done is done though; can’t let that rain on my parade! We left the closing and I was all like…
Excited Kid…minus the french fries. I’d swap that out for a sweet potato. With real butter.

Get to work!
We’ve got some work we want to do (painting, plumbing fixes, kitchen remodeling, etc) but we are still discussing what projects to prioritize and what our renovation budget will be. I’ll put pictures up soon so you can see the “before” photos and will keep you updated on our progress.  It doesn’t seem real yet but come April 2nd when we get the keys it will! Feel free to share any tips you have for us as brand spankin’ new homeowners!

What was on your priority list when you moved in to your first home?

Budget Review: October – December 2012

Every 3 months I’ll post an update showing how our money was allocated for the quarter. Consider this quarterly budget review a tool I’ll use so you can hold me accountable to reaching our 2013 goals!

What happened since our last quarterly review?
– We found out about the potential of moving to Canada for a little bit, eh.
– We started pouring into a Roth IRA
(We’re not really putting 23% of our income into it…it’s more like 15%. We had been setting money aside for a couple months while we figured out where to invest so it made this quarter look like a big investing month)
– We made our first offer on a condo
– We got some new tires for our car
– We spent Christmas with Dave’s side of the family and went to Nashville with my side to ring in the New Year! I also got a new pair of snazzy running shoes while I was there 🙂20130115-171538.jpg20130115-171522.jpg

October-December (actual spending)

Past Budget Reviews:
July – December 2011
January – March 2012
April – June 2012
July — September 2012

Have you done a budget review lately? How are you doing with yours?

I want a dog!

I could think of 100 reasons why I want a dog but unfortunately the handful of reasons why we shouldn’t get one (yet) trumps my 100 reasons. Sad face. I’ll have to continue living through my friends who own dogs like this cute face:20121209-154814.jpg

My parents got a golden retriever shortly before I was born and she lived for 105 glorious dog years. My family then got two border collies when I was in high school and they are now 9 years old (I can’t believe they’re 9!! I should stop calling them puppies). The personalities my dogs have bring me so much joy when I get to see them while visiting my parents. We only have a few friends who do NOT have a dog. Everyone has one. I love them all and want to hide them in my purse when I leave. Every time I see a friend’s puppy I turn to Dave and say “We need to get one.” I would really REALLY love to have a puppy, but it’s just not in the cards for us (yet) for a few reasons…

Our work and living situation
Dave and I are both working full time and we live in a one-bedroom apartment. I know Dave works next door and could let the dog out when he comes home for lunch but that still seems unfair to a dog. I would hate to leave our dog home for 8+ hours every day while we were working. On top of work, we’ll often exercise and/or run errands which tacks on a couple more hours.

Travel frequency
Simply put, we are gone too much. Since June 2011 we’ve been to 14 weddings, spent a week in both Nashville and Ireland, and at least every other month we were visiting family in Michigan. A big reality check on getting a dog hit me when a friend of mine didn’t come to a wedding because her and her husband just got a puppy and they didn’t want to leave it home alone since it wasn’t potty trained yet! I’d hate to miss out on someone’s big day because I had to stay home with the pup. I’d even hate having to leave early from a normal evening hangout with friends just because our little friend needs to be let out.

Financial costs
After talking with friends who have a dog, I found that it can cost anywhere from $600 to $1,000 per year. In my naïve mind I only think of buying the dog and food… that’s all there is to it, right? There is the initial $100-$1,000 purchase, but add to that:

don’t tell my dad I snuggled with her on the couch 🙂

Spay/neuter costs
Doggy bed
Vet visits
Treats/chew bones
Training/training aids
Heartworm meds
Grooming/grooming tools/shampoo
Dental care

Depending on the type/breed, the total cost of a dog who lives to be 14 years old can range from $5,000 to $40,000 from the factors listed above and more. On top of that, who says my dog won’t have hip dysplasia, food allergies, or behavior problems?

Baby time
There is the possibility of starting our own family within the next year or so. While I love the thought of having a child and a puppy, I’m not too fond of the idea of having to take care of both at the same time. Our plan for me when kids come into the picture is to work part-time (at the most). When we hit this phase in life I think it would be easier and I’ll feel less guilty about getting a dog since I will be around more often.

Our financial goals
I know the joy I’d have from owning a dog would be worth the financial cost, but it will have to wait a couple years because the work/living/traveling factors outweigh the financial cost at this point. We do have some big financial goals we’d like to accomplish – one being to save up for a house. We’ve started checking out condos in the area with our realtor and are on our way to have a chunk of savings for a down payment. For now, getting a dog can wait. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop wasting time checking out dogs on the Humane Society’s site and looking through adorable pictures of puppies on Pinterest 🙂

What are your thoughts on getting a dog/pet?

Should we move to Canada?

Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto

My handsome hubs may have the opportunity to take a field assignment through work at a power plant they’re designing in Canada. The field assignment would likely last from April/May until November/December, so 6-8 months. We didn’t think he’d be offered a field assignment for another 2-3 years but his boss just brought this up on Monday. It will be a few weeks before he finds out if he really even needs to go or not. If a field assignment is at least 6 months, they pay for me to tag along. In this situation, it’s likely that I’d get to go with him. While we welcome a short adventure, Monday also happened to be the same day I emailed a realtor that my friend gave praises about to help us start looking for a condo to buy. Keep in mind I have multiple jobs I’d have to put on hold and/or quit and my sister’s wedding is in September. That’s a lot of factors we need to consider!

I’m not overwhelmed because I’ve been intentional to not let my mind wander. While I know it’s wise to plan ahead, I learned from job hunting that I start to over-daydream what my life will be like in that situation. I would apply for a job and begin thinking about my life if I had the job and then I get a little disappointed when I never get a call back. (Side note: have you read about my job as a 19-year old’s personal assistant while I looked for a real job??) Since this Canada thing has only been mentioned in conversation, I’m not going to over think anything until it becomes an actual offer.

So… hypothetical situation….if your spouse got offered to work in another country for 6-8 months, what would you do? Would you move forward with looking for condos and have the option to rent it out while you’re gone or would you wait?

Have you ever had any big life decisions come up?

Saving for our first home

The lease on our current apartment is up next June. The whole home-buying process is completely new to me and I’m learning as I go. After this month we’ll have completed our goal of saving up for a car and the last goal we’ll be working on until next June is saving up for a fat down payment on our first home.

Sticker shock
I’ve been browsing through realtor sites lately to get a feel for prices in our area and I was a little shocked by the price tags when I started. Housing prices widely vary depending on the area you live, but our area seems so expensive! A 900 square foot 1 bed, 1 bath dump of a home costs $130k. Drive 10 miles to the city next door and we could enjoy a large 4 bed, 3 bath home but in a sketchier setting with a poor school district. Since the hubs & I aren’t sure how long we plan to stick around this area, we think it will be at least 4 more years so he’s fully vested in his retirement plan through work.

What we want
We’ve decided that buying a condo is the direction we’ll head in since it’s less permanent and we’ll have the option to sell it when we want to move or rent it out for some passive income. We’d like to have 2 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms but will settle for 1 full bathroom. Other than that, we’re not terribly picky. We will have about $25k saved up by the end of this year and will have a few more months in 2013 to save up even more before we make an offer. The cost of the condos do not include property taxes and there is an association fee that varies around $250/month.

Option 1
Our current apartment is a 5 minute walk to Dave’s job, 1/2 mile to his gym (which is next door to our bank), 1/4 mile to a grocery store, 1 mile from the highway, 4 miles from downtown, and 2 miles to our local library. We LOVE our location. Dave & I both value our time and would consider spending a little more so that we could have more time to enjoy our day instead of driving 30 miles to/from work.

With that said, there are condos 1.3 miles away from Dave’s work that run between $87k-$139k from what we seen up for sale so far. They have 2 bedrooms and 1 to 2 full bathrooms. If we get a condo here, we can continue to share one car since Dave could bike or walk to work or I could drop him off.

Option 2
If we get a condo anywhere but option 1 we will need a second car. Just south and west of our current apartment (6-12 miles/ 10-15 minute drive), there are a few options for condos that range anywhere from $60k-$75k. They are also close to grocery stores, the highway, and the gym I go to. We would need a second car for Dave to drive to work if we went with this option.

Our decision
Option #1: the higher-priced condo that would take longer to pay off (~6 years) close to Dave’s work & we’d only need one car.
Option #2: the cheaper condo we’d pay off sooner (~3 years) but we’ll have all the costs associated with having a second car.
Option #3: your thoughts/suggestions

What do you think? Are there any factors we should consider or prioritize over other factors?