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?

How we lived off of 37% of our income over the past 6 months (Part 3 of 3)

After tithing, taxes, savings, and loans, we manage to live off of the remaining funds. Here’s a summary of how we spent our money from June to December of 2011:

To avoid the novel I’d have to write to explain all 13 categories in one sitting, I’m making this a 3-part series to be shared over the next few days.

A nice perk we enjoy is that my parents only live a half hour away and they graciously allow us to use their washer and dryer at no cost. Just so you don’t think we’re complete moochers- we do buy our own detergent! When planning our monthly budget, we decided we weren’t going to buy new clothes for the year so we could kill our student loans. Just this month though, we’ve come across another blessing- my aunt has been sending me clothes she gets for free since she works at a clothing bank. I just got 15 new dress shirts for work with brand names like Eddie Bauer, Worthington, and New York & Company. FREE! Even if you don’t have a family member working at a clothing bank, you could probably save a boat load of money shopping from second hand stores if you’re patient enough to look around. Christmas also provided a nice edition of new clothes 🙂

We chose the cheapest option for health insurance because we have enough saved in our emergency fund to pay the deductible if anything should happen.

Personal Care
This includes toiletries, make up, hair cuts, office supplies, and our gym membership. I learned to cut Dave’s hair and I get mine trimmed up every 3 or 4 months at a local place for $12. In June, we got a sweet Groupon deal ($40 for 4 months) to an awesome gym in town, but we didn’t stick around because it would be around $80/month to continue our membership and we wanted to put that toward loans. Once the Groupon deal ended, we signed up with a new gym and pay only $10/month each.

We are saving up $200/month for my sister-in-law’s wedding in August. Why $200 per month? Because it’s in Ireland!! (The movie P.S. I Love You has set some high expectations for this trip). Paying $1,200 per ticket plus spending money doesn’t excite me much, but seeing her get married and being in Ireland does!

What are some tactics you use to save significant costs in your monthly budget?