July was a whirlwind month for us. We packed in lots of swimming, camping, outdoor fun, time with family, and even a week-long family reunion in Las Vegas.
Having saved money for our family reunion throughout the year, we were able to go on our trip without stressing over what things cost. I’m still frugal to the core and like to make sure I’m getting the best deal possible (not sure I’m ever going to grow out of that), but having the money earmarked specifically for our vacation made spending really stress-free.
Due to all of our adventures, our grocery shopping was more haphazard than normal. I didn’t do my regular monthly grocery haul, I just made smaller trips here and there throughout the month.
Thanks to a generous income last month, we were able to put a lot toward our goals, as you’ll see below.
Okay, onto the numbers from July 2018!
Our total income for July was $9,083. Since we live on last month’s income, this is money that we’ve been holding to start spending in August.
Attorney Income (Day Job)– $6,309 Mr. SixFiguresUnder has been working full-time as an attorney for the state of California since the fall of 2015. His actual take-home pay was $5,197 but I add back in the cost of the benefits (insurance, dental, vision, parking, union dues and retirement) that are automatically taken out of his check so that we can tithe on that money.
Attorney Income (Private Practice)– $336 My husband has a part-time private law practice on the side, but the income from it (and when he is paid) varies wildly
My Income (Blog)– $1,852 After having my highest income ever last month, this month is the lowest my income has been in years. I’m not freaking out though. It’s pretty normal for blogging to be up and down with income. Of this, I’m setting aside 25% for taxes ($463) and distributing $1,389 to the family checking account as my paycheck. I use Blog Finance Spreadsheets to keep track of everything. Elite Blog Academy is the course I took back in 2014 that set me up for blogging success.
Rental Income- $586 This is the amount of rent we keep after paying the utility expenses for the one-bedroom apartment above our garage. Our renters got a new job out of state so we won’t have any rental income until we get new tenants. We would rather wait to find the right people than get it rented in a hurry, so it might be a few months before we have a rental income again. For a detailed explanation about our rental, check out the bottom section of March’s budget update.
Each month we budget down to zero using last month’s income. This change revolutionized our budget! For more about how living on last month’s income works and how you can get started, check out my free Guide to Getting a Month Ahead Financially.
Our spending in July came from the income we earned in June. Here’s how we spent money in July
Other Giving– $100– Other charitable giving this month.
Mortgage– $3,200 We recently refinanced our mortgage from a 30-year to a 15-year mortgage. If you want to see all the numbers and read about why we did it, read this post that my husband wrote explaining everything!
If you want to know more about our house finances, you can read more about why we got a conventional mortgage (instead of FHA or USDA) and then why we didn’t wait for a 20% down payment.
Electricity– $344 Our electric bill is for two households, as our renters are on the same meter. We get our bill at the beginning of the month for the electricity we used monthly in the previous month. This is one of our highest electric bills ever!
On the plus side, in July we earned $54 cash with OhmConnect, just by using less power during peak times during 2-3 hours per week. We put our earnings into the kids’ fun fund (not to our family budget). If you’re in California, Toronto or Texas, you should definitely check out the OhmConnect program. I’m working on a post and video that will give you all the details.
Water– $88 Our water bill comes every other month, so I just set aside approximately half of what I expect the bill to be, which is normally around $45. When our bill came in July it was $134! Yikes! That’s 50% higher than normal. I found that the kids had been leaving the water on to the lower half of our property when they fill up the chicken’s water or water our berry patch or little garden. Well, the spigot down by the chickens leaks (which is why we normally turn the lower water off at the main up at the house). Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again! (Fixing the leak is on the list of things to do, just not at the top. Turning the water off at the house has been a very doable work-around).
Trash– $32 Our bill for trash service comes every other month, so I set aside half of the bill each month. We’re currently paying for curbside pickup, but that’s not the only way to do it. If you’re trying to cut every expense to its bare minimum, here are some ideas to save on trash service.
Internet– $70 We’ve had internet at our house for a whole year now! I still remember the days of blogging from the (dis)comfort of my van (pregnant belly and all). So we’re happy to have internet at home. Sadly, we pay $20 more each month now that our first year promo is up. We could call and try to negotiate, but seeing as we have zero other options (and invested $5,000 in even having this option), we’re clearly not going anywhere else for internet.
Home Phone- $4 Since my husband works at home a day or two each week, we decided to get a home phone for him to use. It’s Ooma, which is internet-based, not a traditional land line. The monthly service charge is minimal ($4) and the initial set-up (hardware, etc) was under $100. If you think Ooma might work for you, that link will also get you a $20 credit!
Republic Wireless Cell Phones– $14 We’ve been using Republic Wireless as our cell phone carrier for over three years now. This covers the cost of service for my phone, including all taxes and fees. (We’re on the Republic Refund plan from a few years ago which is no longer available; an equivalent plan for a new user today would be $20/month). My husband also has a Republic phone which he uses for his private practice, but that’s a business expense, not a family budget expense. If your cell phone bill is killing you, I definitely recommend that you check out Republic Wireless!
Health Insurance– $316 We have insurance through my husband’s employer. This is the portion of the insurance premium that his employer does not cover. The total coverage includes health, dental and vision insurance premiums. This $316 is deducted directly from his paycheck and goes straight to the insurance company, so it never makes it to our hands.
Car Insurance– $168 Our auto insurance at USAA is fabulous! In addition to the wonderful coverage, they also give us dividends at the end of the year, which is always a nice treat. We’re able to get insurance with USAA because my father-in-law was in the service years ago. If you, your parent, or your spouse were in the military, you’re probably eligible for USAA too!
Food– $305 This year I’ve been open in sharing our grocery shopping trips with you. We didn’t do our normal monthly grocery shopping in July. It was kind of a crazy month all around. During the first week of the month we went camping. My husband planned our camping menu around what we already had and a few things we picked up on our way to the mountains. Then later in the month we headed to Vegas for a family reunion. We bought groceries that week with our vacation budget. At the end of the month my husband stopped by Sam’s Club on his way home from work and got what would normally be a Sam’s Club monthly haul except the month was nearly over.
Gas– $469 Gas could have come out of our vacation budget, but with hubby not commuting to work during our camping trip or reunion, that freed up money in our gas budget, so we just took all of our gas money out of the gas budget. Our fill-up prices in small town Nevada were around $4.50 per gallon! The way we drove, though, there was no way to avoid this (we went hundreds of miles without any cities or towns.
Parking– $165 Working downtown means paying for parking. It comes straight out of my husband’s paycheck, which means it is paid for with pre-tax dollars, a small consolation.
Clothing– $146 We got some necessities for my husband and me and also some school shoes that we found for a good deal at the Adidas outlet in Vegas.
Household– $325 We (well, I) got a little crazy in this category in July. I’ve been thinking about getting an Instant Pot for a while now, and I decided to go ahead and do it on Amazon Prime day. This is the Instant Pot I got. I also got this Fitbit, another something I’ve been wanting for a while, on Prime Day. I’m calling it an early birthday present to myself (but categorizing it as household for some reason). We also stocked up on toilet paper, toothepaste, paper goods, and got a few other household essentials. I got a big box of disposable diapers to bring on our trips.
I have a new friend in my kitchen! I haven't even taken her out of the box yet! What tips do you have for me? What do you love to use your instant pot for? Please share! I'm excited to get started! . . . . #instantpotnewbie #instantpotrecipes #primeday #frugallife #eatathome #feedingthemasses #whatsfordinner #wheredoistart
Fun– $100 We got a family pass for a new aquarium that they are building near us. We haven’t told the kids yet. It doesn’t open until the fall.
Animals– $25 We got a 44-lb bag of cat food. We are nearly finished with all of the chicken feed we stocked up on a few months ago.
Tax Prep– $90 Our tax advice and preparation plan allows the cost to be spread over the year. Some people wonder why we pay so much for this (a total of $1080 a year), and that’s a valid question. We prepared our own returns for years, but in the last few years, as our income sources have been varied, we’ve found the planning and preparation more than pays for itself in minimized tax payments (actual dollars saved), not to mention to the additional peace of mind.
Allowances– $45 We recently started giving allowances for our kids. I’ll explain our system and how it’s working in an upcoming post, but if you want a sneak peek, check out the book The Opposite of Spoiled. We skipped the week we were on vacation.
Homeschool– $405 I will be homeschooling our fifth grader this year (our second and fourth graders will stay in public school). We’re going through a charter school, which in California means we get funding to buy curriculum and do extra curricular activities. I bought a few things with our own funds though, including a laptop (rather than renting one from the school) and some Christian curriculum (which can’t be paid for with state funds). This is a whole new endeavor that I never thought I would do, but we’re going to give it a try this year
Now that we’re done funneling all of our extra money toward debt, we use sinking funds in our budgeting. This is money that we set aside each month into certain categories where it builds up until we need it.
The amount in bold is the amount that was added to the fund this month. Any spending from the fund is noted in the comments, along with the current category balance.
We do not have separate accounts for these funds. All of the money lives in our checking account. I’m not a bit worried about getting the money mixed up because we spend according to our category balances, not our checking account balance. We seriously never even look at our checking account balance unless we’re reconciling our account. We track out budget categories and spending in YNAB.
Home Projects– $2,884 We added a big chunk of money to our home projects category. We have a whole list of projects we are saving for, some of which will happen in August! Right now we have $3,824 remaining in the home projects sinking fund.
Dental– $30 We have $210 in dental right now.
Medical– $100 We spent $11 out of pocket in July. Our current balance for medical is $691.
Car Repair– $300 We spent $449 in July for some repair on the can. The check engine light came on when we were heading to the mountains for our camping trip. The current balance in our car repair fund is $327.
Car Registration & Smog– $40 We currently have $224 in this fund.
Christmas– $100 We currently have $700 in our Christmas fund.
Life Insurance– $70 If we put aside $70 each month, we will have our premiums set aside when they’re due.
Gifts– $40 This is our fund for birthday and other gifts. We currently have $198 in our gifts fund and we didn’t spend any in July.
Retirement– $631 With my husband’s state job, this amount comes directly out of his paycheck and into his state retirement fund.
College Savings– $125 We put $25 per kid into 529 accounts. More on our decision to start saving for college in this post.
Vacation/Family Reunion– $0 We had a total of $709 saved in our vacation fund that we started at the beginning of the year. I figured that whatever we didn’t need for the family reunion we would save for our next trip (probably over Thanksgiving). During our family reunion, we spent $416. That includes groceries (each family took a turn cooking breakfast and dinner one day during the reunion, and we made our own lunches each day), tickets to Adventuredome indoor amusement park (I bought some 2 for 1 coupons for the park on Ebay, so it was essentially half price), and eating at a buffet. (As we were standing in line at the buffet, a sweet lady who was staying at the hotel gave our family her two free meal tickets that she wasn’t going to use, which saved us $45!). The accommodations were already taken care of with some Airbnb credit that I had. There’s one other expense that will be coming out of our vacation fund, but I’ll tell you about it next month. Right now there is $293 remaining in our vacation fund.
Our savings goal for 2018 is $26,000 ($15,000 toward our emergency fund and $11,000 to my IRA).
Our goal for 2018 is to reach $25,000 in our emergency fund (we started out with about $10,000 at the beginning of the year). In July we put $5,406 (and got a bit of interest), which makes the current total $25,696!
Goal achieved! My husband will be writing a post to explain where we ended up deciding to keep that money (a follow-up to this post that he wrote a bit ago).
In July we contributed $550 to my IRA. We automate this contribution each month so that by the end of 2018 my IRA will be maxed out.
At the end of July we are at $23,250, which is 89% of our goal!
So the rest of our 2018 saving goal is just to put $550 in the last 5 months ($2,750) of the year. Hopefully we will be able to save for a few more (small) house projects as well.
There you have it! Personal finance made public!
How About You?
- I’d love to hear about how your budget and/or debt repayment went in July!
- How is your progress on your financial goals for 2018?
- If you have any questions about how we budget, I’m happy to answer them in the comments or in a future post.
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