I’m super late in sharing the details of November’s budget since December’s blogging calendar was filled with the 25 Days of Christmas series. Plus we’ve had a lot going on.
Our sweet baby boy was born in the middle of November. The first three week with him were a little rough. We had to go back to the hospital for jaundice, then we both got thrush, which led lots of nursing difficulty. You’d think that after nursing for a combined total of more than 6 years with our other five kiddos, that it would be a cinch. Not so. Thankfully we’re doing better now. Here’s our first family picture that’s not in a hospital.
Just a week after the baby was born, Mike’s car was totaled by a crazy buck jumping into the road. He’s blessed to be alive, so we’re happy that we’re just dealing with a loss of a vehicle. We’ll discuss the financial repercussion of the car situation in December’s budget update (and possibly a post dedicated to the topic).
As always, we’re sharing our income, expenses, and how we’re working toward our financial goals. Your budget shouldn’t look like ours. Your income, expenses, goals and priorities are different, so what you do with your money will look completely different.
Still, I think it can be really helpful to see the way other families manage their money, especially since budgeting isn’t taught in schools and most people have limited experience seeing real budgets in action.
Before I jump right into our numbers for November, I want to invite you to join me in January for the Frugal Fresh Start Challenge. I’ll be posting here and over on YouTube every weekday in January. I am so excited about this! I want to help you reset your money habits and be more frugal so that you can get out of debt and reach your financial goals faster. You’ll get the workbook emailed to you when you join the challenge.
Let’s jump into the numbers. If you want to see everything in our actual YNAB budget, I’m sharing my budget screen with you and walking you through everything in the video below. Or if you’d rather read, just keep scrolling!
We budget using money we earned last month. If the concept of being a month ahead of your expenses is new to you, check out my recent YouTube video here or this blog post. We’ve been budgeting this way for years and absolutely love it!
Income Earned In November – $8,766
We live on last month’s income. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, check out the video explaining how living on last month’s income changed our lives or the post explaining how we got to that point. The income section shown here is the money we earned in November, which has all been set aside to use in our December budget. The spending section below shows the money we earned in October and spent in November.
Attorney Income $6,335 – Mike works as an attorney for the state of California. This is his take-home pay after taxes, social security, health insurance premiums, union dues, and parking fees are taken out.
Blogging Income $1,389 – My blogging income really fluctuates. My blog has taken a back seat this year, so my blog income has been down compared to past years.
Airbnb Income $1,042 – This was our lowest month of Airbnb income, but that’s because we were paid in October for a stay that lasted well into November. If you’re thinking about renting out your space, check out Mike’s recent post about dealing with insurance for your Airbnb rental. You can also see an explanation of how we handle our Airbnb finances.
Spending in November
Each month we budget the previous month’s income down to zero. This is how we spent the money we earned in October.
Tithing – $1,256 We always pay a 10% tithe on our income. This tithing (like all of our November spending) comes from the money we earned in October. You can read about why we continued paying a 10% tithe even when we were in debt.
Fast Offering – $100 Each month we take one day to fast (go without food and drink) for two meals and make a donation to help the poor in our area.
Mortgage – $3,454 Our mortgage payment includes homeowners insurance, property taxes, and a small amount of PMI. We have a 15-year mortgage, but our big goal is to pay it off in five. We’re not quite on track right now, as you’ll see in the goal section down below. That’s one reason we’re excited for January’s Frugal Fresh Start Challenge. It’s time to get to work on that goal. If you’re a numbers person, or are looking at mortgages yourself, Mike answers a series of questions about how and why we refinanced, including all the numbers involved in the decision. We’ll have another refi post up soon.
Electricity – $46 This bill is an interesting one. Our original bill was only $146 because PG&E had our power turned off for more than 7 days during October (you can read more about that in this post). Then PG&E gave its customers who had to deal with planned outages a $100 “customer satisfaction adjustment” which brought our bill down to a mere $46.
Car Insurance – $239 Our insurance payment came while we still had three cars. We are down to two now that Mike’s car is totaled. We had planned to get back to two cars, but this wasn’t the way we planned on doing it. Oh well! We have been so impressed with the service and coverage that USAA provides as both a bank and an insurance company. We’re able to join USAA because my father-in-law was in the service years ago. If you, your parent, or your spouse were/are in the military, you’re probably eligible for USAA too!
Internet – $65 We still remember what life was like when we moved into our new house and it took six months (and $5,000) to get internet access. We are so grateful to have an internet connection right here in the comfort of our home.
Water – $67 Our water bill comes every other month and varies. This is what we needed to pay in addition to the $60 we had set aside in last month’s budget.
Trash – $37 Our garbage collection bill comes every other month, so we set aside half each month.
Cell Phone (Steph) – $22 As I’ve helped others with their budgets, I’ve really come to appreciate my affordable cell phone plan. So many people could really cut costs in this area. Republic Wireless offers a unlimited calls and texts and 1 GB of cell data for $20/month with no contract. Mike and I each have a Republic Wireless phone, but his is a business expense, so never shows up here. The nice thing about Republic Wireless is that any time you’re in wifi range, the phone uses wifi for both calls and data, so we rarely get close to the 1GB data limit.
Another great option for affordable cell phones is Mint Mobile, especially if you want to bring your own phone. I’ve had readers rave about their great service. You can get data for a lot less than Republic Wireless. Because we have no cell signal at our home, we use Republic and its wifi calling, but Mint Mobile looks like it’s worth looking into if you want a cheaper cell phone bill and you have a good cell signal where you spend your time!
Home phone – $5 Since Mike works at home a day or two each week, we have a home phone for him to use. It’s through Ooma, which is internet-based, not a traditional land line. The monthly bill is a minimal $4.50 and the initial set-up (hardware, etc) was under $100. If you want to give Ooma a try, that link should also get you a $20 credit (let me know if it’s not working).
Orthodontist – $61 We have a new monthly budget category! I mentioned in last month’s budget update that we put $500 down on orthodontic work for our oldest. While we took that down payment from our medical/dental sinking fund, we wanted to have a separate category for the known cost of $61/month for the next two years.
Food – $491 Our food spending was almost the same as it was in October. We generally set $400 or $450 as our food budget at the beginning of the month, but have had to pull money from elsewhere the past two months. We will see how the next few months with the new baby go. We could raise the food budget to $500, but I don’t think we need to. We just need to be more careful.
Fuel – $417 Glad to see the gas spending go down as gas prices drop with the switch to California’s winter blend of fuel. And glad to have had electricity in November so we didn’t have to buy gas for the generator.
Houshold Misc – $284 I bought batting and backing fabric for the giant quilt I’m working on. Even with sales and coupons, that was about $80. We bought normal toiletries. I got some more of my fav food containers when I found a great black Friday sale on them. I wanted more so I could prep more lunch things at once for the kids and Mike. We got a nice air pump for bikes and balls. We’ve gone through too many small ones and it seems like the kids always need something pumped up! We also bought a can of baby formula for the first time ever. We got it as back up when I wasn’t doing well and ended up only using it a couple of times.
Clothing – $104 I bought three pair of Adidas for the kids. Two pair will be for Christmas, so I could have used the Christmas sinking fund, but since they were also a necessity, I chose to categorize them as clothing, though a lot of the clothes that I got for Christmas I allocated to the Christmas sinking fund.
Animals – $146 We bought four bags of chicken feed and two bags of cat food and had one cat spayed.
Kids’ Activities/School – $10 We got a band shirt for our oldest.
Allowances – $60 We give our kids “practice money” as a weekly allowance. You can read all about why we decided to pay our kids allowance that’s NOT tied to chores, as well as all the details of when and how much in this recent blog post.
For most of our budget categories, we zero out what is left at the end of the month and send it to our mortgage payoff goal, but in our sinking funds we set aside money each month for future expenses and let it build up until we need it.
The amount in bold is the amount we added to the fund this month. Any spending is noted in the comments along with the current balance of each fund.
We do not have separate bank accounts for these funds. All of the money lives in our checking account. I’m not worried about getting the money mixed up because we spend according to our budget category balances, not our checking account balance. We seriously never even look at our checking balance unless we’re reconciling the account. We track our budget categories and spending in YNAB.
Medical/Dental – $400 We had two $10 doctor copays and a $5 prescription copay. Current category balance is $3,552.
Car Maintenance – $300 We spent $14 on oil for the car. Current category balance is $2,372.
Christmas – $100 We spent $363 on Christmas gifts and a service project that we did. Current category balance is $246.
Life Insurance – $75 We paid our premiums in November, so we’re back to starting over our savings for life insurance. Current category balance is $75.
Birthdays & Gifts – $0 We didn’t add our normal $40 to this category, but did spend about $65 on a friend birthday gift, baby shower gift, and a few things for the future. Current category balance is $99.
Car Registration & Smog – $0 We didn’t add anything to or spend anything from this category. Current category balance is $423.
Home Projects – $0 We aren’t adding to this category right now. Current category balance is $0.
Family Fun Fund – $0 We didn’t add anything to this category in November. Current category balance is $479.
Kids’ 529s – $125 I know that $25 per kid per month invested for college looks piddly, but we’re not as concerned about college costs as a lot of people. Scholarships, grants, loans, and jobs during school worked for us. We may accelerate this savings later, but it’s not our highest priority. You can read about our decision to start saving a little for college in this post.
IRA (Steph) – $500 $500 monthly will max out my $6,000 IRA contribution for 2019. Mike has about $700 each month deducted directly from his paycheck into a pension fund.
Mortgage Payoff Goal Progress
If you’re new here, our big goal right now is paying off our mortgage. We want to pay it off in 5 years, even though on paper right now it looks impossible. You read about our mortgage-payoff goal here and see more of the mortgage numbers here.
Our normal November mortgage payment of $3,454 includes principal, interest, property tax, homeowner’s insurance and PMI. Of that, $1,721 went to principal. In addition to the normal payment, we paid an additional $2,000 of principal.
That brings our totals to:
Current balance (after November 2019 payments): $316,038
Original balance of 15-year mortgage: $372,700
Balance at start of 5-year goal (Nov 2018): $363,171
Percent of 5-year goal reached: 12.98%
Percent of 5-year time elapsed: 21.67%. We have some catching up to do.
You can get this hand-drawn brick house printable progress chart here. I love that it has LOTS of spaces (365 in total) so that we can color it in often and celebrate our progress! It would work great for paying off your mortgage OR saving for a down payment.
Whew! That was a lot of numbers. Thanks for reading our personal finances made public!
How About You?
- How did your budget and/or debt repayment go in November?
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