It’s time once again to make personal finance public as we share what we earn, spend, and save each month!
Three and a half years ago we started sharing our family’s financial details to keep ourselves accountable and motivated as we paid off a whopping six figure student loan debt. The feedback we’ve received over the years has been so encouraging. I hope that seeing our family’s transparent budget will encourage you too. Just be sure not to get caught up in comparing. I don’t expect you to do what we do.
Talking about family finances is so often taboo. We hope that by openly talking about it here, we can help break the taboo. Personal and family finances are hard enough without feeling like you have to do it all alone.
Our total net income for December was $11,886. Since we live on last month’s income, this is income that we haven’t used yet. We will be budgeting and spending it in January.
Attorney Income (Day Job)– $5,470 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 $4,490. 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 I can show them to you in our budget below.
Attorney Income (Private Practice)– $3,387– On top of working full-time (and a three-hour round-trip commute), my husband has his own private law practice on the side (crazy, I know!). He started it last year to help speed up our debt payoff. His income fluctuates greatly from month to month.
My Income (Blog)– $3,029 The income that I report is the income that I received this month minus all of my blogging expenses (except taxes).
If you’re interested in the details of my blogging income and expenses as well as other blogging tips and resources, you can sign up for my Behind-the-Scenes Blogging emails to get the scoop. If you’re looking for a tool to track your own blogging income and expenses, check out the Blog Finance Spreadsheets.
Each month we budget down to zero using last month’s income. When we started doing this, it literally changed our lives–in a big way! 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 December came from the income we earned in November. In addition to the savings goal above, here’s how we spent money in December:
Other Giving– $91 Other charitable donations this month.
Mortgage/Rent– $0 Living in my in-laws’ unfinished basement is a huge blessing. I don’t expect everyone to do what we do, but for us, it’s worth sacrificing some comforts and privacy to make headway on our financial goals. It won’t be for much longer. If you are considering living with family, here are some things to consider.
Internet– $0 Thanks to some legal work that my husband did for our service provider, we have free internet for a while. It’s nice to stretch our budget by bartering, though we will still need to pay income tax on the fair market value of Internet service ($70/month) at tax time.
Republic Wireless Cell Phones– $25 We’ve been using Republic Wireless as our cell phone carrier for over two years now. This $25 covers the cost of service for both our phones, including all taxes and fees. If your cell phone bill is killing you, I definitely recommend that you check them out!
Health Insurance– $286 We have insurance through my husband’s employer. This is the portion of the insurance premium that his employer does not cover. It includes health, dental and vision insurance premiums. This just came down drastically, but it will be going up a little in the new year
Car Insurance– $210 We are currently paying insurance on three vehicles (we will be retiring our old van soon thankfully). 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 husband’s father was in the service years ago. If you or your parents were in the military, you’re probably eligible for USAA too!
Renters Insurance– $14 Our renters insurance is also through USAA. It doesn’t cost much and it’s really great to have when you need it, like when my husband’s car was broken into a couple of years ago. Car insurance covered the car damage and vehicle related items, but it was our renters insurance that covered his personal property like his laptop and briefcase.
Food– $283 After a regular food budget in November, I was hoping to have an extra low food budget in December, but it ended up turning out pretty standard. I placed another order with Zaycon Fresh for 40 lbs of ground beef that I’ll be splitting with my mother-in-law. you can get 20% off your first order with the code BL20.
Gas– $419 We took a short trip after Christmas, but considering that my husband didn’t have to commute for three days and the kids were off school for two weeks, the road trip didn’t really affect our gas consumption.
Parking– $155 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– $0 Some of our Christmas purchases were clothes (including some that I got free with credit from ThredUp), but I categorized them under Christmas instead of clothing.
Household– $24 I bought envelopes, trash bags, and a few other small things.
Entertainment– $25 As a Christmas gift for our family, we got a membership to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We took our first trip the day after Christmas. We had to pay $15 for parking. We spent more on movie rentals than we ever have ($10)! Half of the expense was one (dumb) movie that we got from Redbox and forgot to return for four days in a row! Since the movie was ultra dumb, paying nearly $5 to rent it was painful. The other $5 was spent on five VidAngel movies.
Car Repair– $38 We bought brakes and windshield wipers for the new van.
Medical– $0 No medical expenses in December.
Christmas– $685 This includes everything associated with Christmas, including stamps and Christmas cards. Our big family gift was a membership to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We spent $300 to get a family pass with two guest passes. We gave a “gift of experience” to both sets of grandparents. We’ll make another few trips to the Aquarium this year, and we’ll bring grandparents with us! With our aquarium membership and credits at Airbnb, the trip will make a frugal and memorable gift.
Retirement– $539 With my husband’s state job, this amount comes directly out of his paycheck and into his state retirement fund. While we have some retirement savings from before law school, we hadn’t contributed for several years while in school and paying off student loans. It’s nice to see our retirement funds growing again.
College Savings– $100 We contribute $25 per month per child to 529 accounts. It’s not much, but it’s a start. More on our decision to start saving for college in this post.
Random periodic expenses– $33 My husband had to renew his drivers license.
In December, we put $6,580 toward our three pre-house goals, which brings out total to $31,272, or about 95% of our goal. You can read about our pre-house goals in detail here.
If you remember from November, we did spend some of this already on buying a new van ($5,390), which was one of the three pre-house goals we had set. We also put a little toward retirement ($1,000). For the sake of measuring our goal, I included the amount we already used in my total numbers and in my graphic below.
We met with our tax advisor in December to get an idea of where we stood. It looks like we will owe somewhere around $16,000 come April. This is why we were hoping to pre-pay some of our tithing for 2017 (a strategy explained in detail here). Our tax advisor said that at this point, every tax deductible dollar we spend (charitable contributions, Roth IRA contributions, business expenses, etc) will save us about 40 cents of tax.
We decided to pre-pay $8,000 of tithing. That should reduce our tax bill by about $3,200!
There you have it friends! Another month (and year) in the books!
Want to get motivated and inspired for your financial goals this year? Starting today, you can virtually attend the New Year, New You 2017 Financial Summit. There will be 16 interviews of financial experts speaking on topics like budgeting, getting out of debt, increasing income, and investing. You can watch the sessions for free when you register here!
How About You?
- I’d love to hear about how your budget and/or debt repayment went in December!
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