It’s finally time to report about how we finished off 2015. As you can see, we made it below $50 K, which is definitely something to get excited about! Later this month I will do a post about how our expenses looked for the whole year together (similar to the one I did last year), but right now I will focus on December.
Another financial highlight of December was getting a new van for much less than what we had saved and then “recycling” our old van which came with a $1,500 check. Oh, and just days ago, I published my first book!
In December we were able to pay off $6,205 in debt! Half of that amount came from what we had leftover when we bought a van that cost less than what we had saved. The best part was finishing paying off the balance transfer that we did back in March 2015 to save on interest . It served its purpose and we managed to do the whole thing without any transfer fees or interest. Even though we still have time left before the 0% interest rate runs out, we are happy to be done with it. Our remaining balance is divided between four loans.
Our total net income for December was $9,626. Since we live on last month’s income, this is income that we haven’t touched yet. We will budget and spend it in January.
Attorney Income (Day Job)– $5,117 With Mr. SixFiguresUnder’s new job, in addition to taxes being taken out of his gross earnings, our health insurance, dental, vision, parking, union dues and retirement are taken out. In order to keep consistent and comparable reporting, I add the value of those benefits back in to come up with this income number, although they are deducted from his check before he gets it. His check is $3,812.
Attorney Income (Private Practice)– $1,454 In addition to his job with the state, my husband does estate planning, small business, and real estate work for private clients. His income is very variable. Some of the work gets paid up front, and some he won’t see for over a year after the work has begun.
My Income (Blog)– $1,508 This is just blogging income since my Etsy shop is on vacation right now. If you’re interested in the details of my blogging income as well as other blogging tips and resources, you can sign up for my Behind-the-Scenes Blogging emails. If starting a money-making blog is one of your goals for the new year, Bluehost is having a sale right now (domain name is included) that might interest you. If you need help setting things up, I have a step-by-step tutorial that will take you through the set-up complete with screenshots.
Other Income– $1,547 We were blessed to get a $1,500 check for retiring our van that would not pass smog. Depending on your income level, you can either get $1,000 or $1,500 in California when you participate in the vehicle retirement program. I’ll have a post with more details about the program coming up soon. We are leaving the $1,500 in the budget earmarked for car repair, rather than putting it toward debt. With two older vehicles, we will surely need it soon. We also received a dividend from our auto insurance through USAA. It’s always fun to get a little back.
We use YNAB (YouNeedABudget) for our budgeting and absolutely adore it. Each month we budget down to zero using last month’s income. Our spending in December came from the income we earned in November. In addition to the debt payment above, here’s how we spent money in December:
Other Giving– $65 Other charitable donations this month.
Mortgage/Rent– $0 We appreciate living in my in-laws’ unfinished basement for free. This opportunity has motivated us to buckle down on all areas of our budget so we can have this unusual rent-free time make the biggest impact possible.
Internet– $0 Internet is the one utility that we pay. It’s usually $70 per month as we live in the boonies and have very few options. Thanks to some legal work that my husband did for our service provider, we will have free internet for a while. It’s nice to have a skill to barter with.
Republic Wireless Cell Phones– $28 We switched our Republic Wireless phones to the new Republic Refund plans. With our refund for the data we didn’t use the month before, I ending up paying $12.21 and my husband paid $15.79 for our phones. You can read about getting refunded for cell data you don’t use here.
Health Insurance– $665 This is out part of the insurance premium that my husband’s employer does not cover.
Car Insurance– $150 We still have three cars insured. For several days we actually had four cars insured, but it didn’t really change the total. The next plan is to figure out what to do with the red van so we can stop paying for insurance for it. The goal is to get rid of it before the registration is due in February.
Renters Insurance– $14 We have our renters (and auto) insurance through USAA. It doesn’t cost much and it’s really great to have when you need it.
Food– $365 Without looking, I’m pretty sure this is our highest food month this year. Nearly a hundred dollars more than last month. There’s no reason in particular, I just stopped recording my spending somewhere around Christmas when I made a few “small trips” to the store, then filled in the numbers in later and realized my oops. I was a bad example. 🙁
Gas– $373 While this might look like a crazy amount to some, we are thrilled with it! This is nice and low for us. Between living in the boonies and having a 1.5 hour commute each way (no including traffic), we typically have pretty high gas spending.
Parking– $155– Working downtown means paying for parking. It is set up to come straight out of his paycheck, which means it is paid for with pre-tax dollars, a small consolation I suppose.
Fun– $24 We did lots of fun things this month. Several of them were free things that I got with referral credit from Living Social. We also went out to eat three times, once as a family and twice as a date. All three times we had a voucher from Groupon or Living Social which covered most of our meal.
Clothing– $32 I grabbed a few non-Christmas clothing items for the kids and hubby.
Household– $73 I didn’t do a great job of recording the details of these purchases this month (what can I say, it was a busy month), but suffice it to say that I bought an assortment of normal household products (you know all the little things that add up).
New Van– $2,006 We were so happy to find a car we felt good about that was below the $5,000 that we had set aside for it. The cost of the van itself was $1,750. We also spent $110 on a pre-purchase inspection. It cost $146 to register the van. I’m sure there will be other expenses that come up, as it is 19 years old, but we’re hoping it will last us through our debt payoff and saving for a house.
Auto– $1,252 My husband took his car in for a much-needed oil change. They replaced the radiator, radiator fittings, and thermostat because the radiator was cracked. The mechanic noticed that his tires were worn through (cords showing) on the inside edge of all the tires. He just got two new tires back in August 2015 and four new tires in November 2014. He drives a lot, but it’s ridiculous to go through tires that fast! The mechanic had the alignment checked and it was fine. Now we have to figure out if it’s worth chasing down the problem (next step is replacing the struts) because his car has 230K miles on it already. Ugh. I know all you ‘new car’ people are just rolling your eyes.
Christmas– $479 A lot of our gifts were things that we needed. For example, my husband desperately needed new dress shoes and a new belt. The kids main gift was a remote control car. We got them each this rock crawler and they are all having a blast. I got them when they were listed for half price on Amazon.
Retirement– $484 With my husband’s state job we are forced to save for retirement. While we have some retirement savings from our before law school, it’s nice to finally be contributing again. This amount is taken out automatically.
College Savings– $100 We contribute $25 per month per child to 529 accounts. More on our decision to start saving for college in this post.
I’m excited to see what taxes will look like this year. Well, maybe “excited” isn’t the right word for it. I’m interested to see if we owe or if we get a refund. At this point it could go either way and we really have no idea what will happen.
Speaking of taxes, there is an awesome giveaway over at Bare Budget Guy where you can win his tax preparation services! If you’re normally a DIY-er with your taxes, this is a great opportunity to have a professional take care of things which could really save you money (and time and stress). Go check it out. I would love for one of you to win!
If you haven’t grabbed my new ebook, head on over to Amazon and get Frugal Fresh Start: A 28-day challenge to trim your expenses, build your budget, and fix your finances. It has a super low intro price for my readers– you guys are awesome! Get your year off to a great start! You’ll be glad you did.
How About You?
- How did your budget go in December?
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