monthy recap

february recap

month recap

Welcome to March! Waa-waa – there is still massive amounts of snow here and no sign of spring at all. I’m ready for spring. But since spring isn’t here I guess I’ll just stay inside and review our budget and progress in February. Yes!

February House Payments

We were able to pay $2,718.96 towards our mortgage this month. That means we were able to pay a little more than $1900 extra towards our mortgage! Thanks for working so hard Husband! Our payment coupons have a little box to check that indicates if you want the extra to go towards principle. I’ve heard at some banks if you don’t tell them specifically to put the extra towards your mortgage they will make advanced payments and it spreads your interest out longer. This chunk of change moved us to where our principle balance would be in June 2016 if we just paid it at the regular pace. Comparing the regular amortization schedule to the accelerated amortization schedule really helps me see the progress we are making and keeps me motivated.

Budgeting

We came closer with our cash budget in February.

FEBRUARY
Budget Actual Percent
Groceries $400.00 $  360.00 90%
Eating Out $124.00 $  124.00 100%
Home Improvement $50.00 $     60.00 120%
Pet Care $50.00 $     50.00 100%
Car Maintenance $40.00 $            – 0%
Entertainment $5.00 $       5.00 100%
Gifts $50.00 $            – 0%
General house $30.00 $     30.00 100%
Personal – Andee $70.00 $     52.00 74%
$819.00 $  681.00 83%

Our grocery was much more reasonable than in January. I had 5 people over for dinner one night and we still managed to come in under $400. I don’t think we’ll reduce this category any further for now because it can fluctuate so much depending on what we have going on.

We went over in home improvement because an exterior motion sensor light broke and needed to be replaced.

Our dogs spent all their money on bones and food. We buy their food at Costco because we have heard several veterinaries recommend it and it is reasonably priced.

Car Maintenance and gifts weren’t used and are rolled over continually to build a pot to pull from when we have larger expense. Like when we have several birthdays in a month. We did celebrate one birthday this month but we bought the gift with a left over gift card from Christmas. It was like finding bonus money.

We spent all of our general house money – paper towels, soap that kind of thing. Very exciting stuff in this category.

Personal money. I literally have no idea what I did with my personal money this month. I can’t remember a thing. I bought some candles when I was having a group of girls over for dinner – it didn’t seem reasonable to take it out of general house money because candles are definitely not a staple, for me they are a luxury – as absurd as that probably sounds. I bought Collin a new phone charger for Valentine’s Day so that’s where some of the money went. I struggle with the personal money category because the nerd part of me wants to track every penny I spend, even this category but the other part of me believes firmly that personal money should be used for fun and whatever I want. It’s the one category without guidelines or specifications so why should I track it? Because it really bothers me that I don’t know where I spent it! That’s why! (Hope you enjoyed that trip into my mind.)

So our cash envelopes did their job in February, we stayed on track for the most part and managed to live within the boundaries of one income.

cash budgeting part 2

I covered the mechanics of how I actually started the cash system in my last post. This time I want to show you how we divide up our money and make decisions.

I feel like our real life budget numbers are going to be the most useful in this post so please be gentle. This is a synopsis of where we planned to spend our cash in January and how we actually did. Our cash envelopes are broken down into nine categories:

JANUARY 
Budget  Actual Percent
Groceries $500.00 $390.00 78%
Eating Out $124.00 $145.00 117%
Home Improvement $150.00 $150.00 100%
Pet Care $50.00 $32.00 64%
Car Maintenance $40.00 0 0%
Entertainment $50.00 $75.00 150%
Gifts $50.00 0 0%
General house $30.00 $28.00 93%
Personal – Andee $70.00 $60.00 86%
TOTALS $1,064.00 $880.00 83%

We budgeted a total of $1064.00 and spent a total of $880 so even though we came in over budget on two categories we still only spent 83% of our cash allotments! That is pretty exciting and encouraging. Some categories likes Car Maintenance, Gifts and Dog Money will just continue to grow each month to pay for things that will cost more than one month’s total. A trip to the vet would obviously cost more than $50 and the left over each month will just keep accumulating so we have enough to pay the vet in cash – ideally. The car maintenance and gift categories work the same way.

Now let’s talk about where we went over – entertainment and eating out, the two categories that took the biggest hit when we started using cash. We went over on eating by one meal and that was a special occasion where we took pizza to a family member’s house to watch a football game. It was at the very beginning of the month and we were still afraid of how things would work. Excuses, excuses I know. Don’t make our mistakes! The entertainment category will fix itself this month because we only get $5 instead of $50 to balance it out, plus we still have a $20 left from January so essentially our entertainment in February is half of what it was in January because we spent too much. There was a play we both wanted to see and my husband surprised me by buying tickets, he is very sweet and thoughtful – and the play only ran in January. So it was worth it to have less in February, plus February is a short month so we won’t need to spend as much anyway! Right? I feel like I just spent way too much trying to justify that whole thing to you.

The category I am most proud of is groceries. I assumed when we cut our eating out budget we would buy more food and I expected that to be around $500; I planned big because I would rather start with too much money in this category than too little and have to take it from something else. But I obviously way over budgeted; which is awesome!

Changes as a result of spending:

After looking at how we did in January I felt comfortable reducing our food budget by $100. Our home improvement budget was also reduced by $100 for February because it wasn’t until half way through January that we decided to live on one income so we had to make more cuts and home improvement seems the easiest place to cut.

Personal Money

This category encompasses a lot. My husband prefers to have his personal money via debit card because he likes to spend some of his personal money via iTunes. He was a separate bank account at our same bank and I transfer his personal the same day I divvy up the cash envelopes. Remember when I didn’t buy the fox canister at Target ***LINK TO TARGET POST****?! I’m still excited to have such a tangible example of how cash makes a difference in my spending patterns.

Here’s a breakdown of what I spent my January personal money on

New black tights ($5 @ Target),

$5 to a homeless man (I don’t usually give money direct to the homeless buy I really like I was supposed to)

Diet Coke ($1)

New Shirt ($3.99 @ Goodwill)

Latte ($4)

Lunch with Mom ($18)

Lunch w/ Mom and Sister ($7)

Dinner Date w/ Husband ($15)

That leaves $1 I have no idea what I did with. Remembering everything I spent my personal money was tough. I need to write a separate post about how much I love the “personal money” category!

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january recap

month recap

Hello February! Goodbye January!  January was an experimental month for us in many ways. But it is also the first month of the year – so full of possibilities. This was also the first month we used a cash budget system to curb spending. I’ll delve into the cash budgeting in another post. I’d like to recap the Month of January as it was the first official month in our journey to pay off the house!

It was also the first month we put a significant chunk of change towards our mortgage. We are both thoroughly blessed in that we received year-end bonuses from work and with those bonuses we were able to pay $5,285 towards our mortgage. So we paid an additional $4,470 that goes directly to principle! Awesome! This big lump moved us ahead to where we would be in September 2015 if we just paid the regular $815 month. It was a bit difficult to not fall into the “I worked hard all year and I should do something fun with this bonus money. It is a BONUS after all.” I just kept reminding myself that nothing I bought would be a bigger reward than not having a mortgage 3.6 years from now.

We also had the joyful opportunity to make use of our Emergency Fund in January. All our savings in 2012 paid off! Our fridge has been making loud noises for a while now, we assumed it was just usual fridge noises. Then it began to warm up and by Saturday it was a mild 50 degrees in the old ice box. My husband tried to fix it and we thought it was fixed until Sunday night when it again refused to cool below 48 degrees. Food should be stored between 32 and 40 degrees for safety, for a fun reference point. But we like to live dangerously! No, just kidding. We were keeping our food in a cooler on the porch. Then Sunday afternoon I went to do a load of laundry only to discover that sewer water had backed up in the basement! So we spent part of Saturday, Sunday and Monday acting like we were camping in our own home. No showers, no running water, no laundry, no peeing indoors (thankfully our house is semi-remote), going outside to get our food out of a cooler. So Monday we bought a new fridge and waited for Roto-Rooter. In the end all the problems were fixed by Monday night to the tune of $860. We have a new fridge and that tree root trying to pry it’s way into our sewer line is fixed – for the time being. (As a side note, here is a good way to get a deal on a fridge at Lowes. Say to the department manager, “My Husband keeps looking at this fridge at Home Depot, but I really want to buy it here. Can your work with me?” It also helps that my husband really was looking at a fridge at Home Depot). We also had the electrician come and start on updating the electrical the same week. For a while it felt like we were hemorrhaging money and that can be a scary feeling when you are trying to make every dollar go as far as it can.

Even though there were things that were challenging or annoying in January I am so incredibly thankful for so many things that made this first month in our journey to pay off our house possible. My husband’s great plan to live on one income, my employer, my husband’s employer, and our ability to earn income.

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