Sharing our family’s budget with you is one of my favorite posts to write each month. Keeping ourselves accountable was a key factor in our successfully paying off our massive student loan debt, so we kept going with it.
I love hearing about your successes in the comments. So many of you are making amazing progress on your own big financial goals! I’m totally rooting for you!!
We had our budget meeting (which I enjoy as only a budget nerd can) a few days early this month!
I took care of all of our bills early and kept up on reconciling our accounts with our budget just in case this baby decided to make an early appearance.
Our other four all arrived sometime between their due dates and nine days late, so in my heart of hearts I didn’t really think we’d have an early baby.
And we didn’t.
I’m five days “late” now, but I’m cool with that. Babies come when they’re ready.
I got this post all ready for you ahead of time in case I had to post it foggy-brained from the hospital, but it looks like that won’t be necessary.
Without further ado, here’s how our finances looked in August:
Our total income for August was $10,459. Since we live on last month’s income, this is money that we’re waiting to spend in September.
Attorney Income (Day Job)– $5,741 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 $4,610 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 you can see what happens to the money that never makes it home.
Attorney Income (Private Practice)– $2,297 On top of working full-time, my husband has a part-time private law practice on the side. He started it to help speed up our debt payoff and because he had clients from his days at a small firm that didn’t want to let him go. He hasn’t done any advertising, but the work keeps coming in. This income fluctuates greatly from month to month.
My Income (Blog)– $2,421 The income that I report is the income that I received this month minus all of my blogging expenses. Of this, I set 30% ($726) aside for self-employment taxes (which is currently covering the estimated quarterly payments for both of our businesses) and the remainder ($1,695) goes into the family budget.
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.
Each month we budget down to zero using last month’s income. When we started doing this, it literally changed our lives! 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 August came from the income we earned in July. Here’s how we spent money in August.
Other Giving– $80 Other charitable donations this month.
Mortgage/Rent– $2,500 Our payment is actually slightly less than this, but I like round numbers, so we decided to just pay a nice even $2,500 each month. This small adjustment actually shaves a few years off the mortgage! Curious about our mortgage? 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– $278 We are pretty careful about our electricity usage and have specific strategies to keep our bill down in the summer. We have been really motivated by the OhmConnect program which lets you earn extra money for saving power. My kids think it’s super fun to save power now. If you’re in California, Toronto or Texas, you should definitely check it out! If you live somewhere else, you can sign up too, and earn prizes instead of cash. Keep in mind that our electric bill covers the small rental we have on our property as well.
Water– $45 Our water bill comes every other month, so I just set aside approximately half of what I expect the bill to be.
Trash– $35 Our bill for trash service comes every other month. This is half of it. If you want to save on trash service, here are some ideas.
Internet– $46 After surviving so long without internet, I’m thrilled to be paying an internet bill (and a nice low one too)! I often stop during the day and marvel at how wonderful and remarkable it is to have internet access in my very own home. We won’t quickly forget what it’s like to go without it.
Home Phone- $90 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 will be very cheap (about $4), but in August we bought the required hardware.
Republic Wireless Cell Phones– $13 We’ve been using Republic Wireless as our cell phone carrier for over two years now. This covers the cost of service for my phone, including all taxes and fees (we’re on the Republic Refund plan). 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 them out!
Health Insurance– $408 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 and comes straight out of his paycheck.
Car Insurance– $96 Our car insurance was lower this month because we overpaid last month (since we cancelled insurance on the car we donated partway through the month. 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, your parent, or your spouse were in the military, you’re probably eligible for USAA too!
Food– $333 At the end of July/beginning of August. we had a week-long family reunion. We were in charge of food for the entire group for one day and had lots of leftovers (purchased in July), so we skipped our usual once-a-month big grocery shopping trip. Plus, the days we weren’t in charge of food at the reunion we didn’t have to purchase or prepare any of it. Now THAT’s a vacation! I did, however, make several small grocery trips during the month and found some great deals!
Gas– $393 With driving the kids to school again, the gas budget goes up.
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– $216 We took a family trip to our favorite thrift store, Ecothrift, for some back-to-school shopping. Each week they have a color of tag that is 25% off, 50% off, and 75% off. And their regular prices are already awesome! We got 48 clothing items (including several pairs of shoes) for under $60! Pretty sweet deals! I also got myself a new pair of Chacos for my birthday. I don’t hesitate to shell out $60 to $80 (for the previous year’s colors/designs) because they last me about 6 years per pair (and I wear them nearly every day, 12 months out of the year). I always put lots of miles on them and LOVE them. I also bought some shorts for my husband, and new socks and underwear for all of the kiddos.
Household– $168 In addition to normal toiletries, sandwich bags, and the like, we paid for school supplies, new toner for our printer, and a new drivers license for me!
Fun– $1.61 We enjoyed one Redbox movie night.
Kids– $72 It cost $52 to have myself fingerprinted so that I can volunteer and chaperone field trips at the kids’ new school. I also bought some piano books for the kids. I’m going to try to be consistent with teaching them piano this school year.
Home Improvement– $496 We’ve expanded our “home improvement” category to pretty much be the long list of expensive things we plan to buy or update in the coming months (details in the Saving section below). We currently have just over $900 in this category. We had hoped to get a new bed before the baby comes, but trying out beds (getting up and down a million times) isn’t very enjoyable at this stage of pregnancy. Nothing really feels comfortable at this point. Hopefully soon after baby comes though! We’re sleeping on the guest bed in the meantime.
Animals– $72 We stocked up on chicken feed (5 x 50lb bags) when it was on sale. We also bought cat food for our two barn cats and three kittens. We encourage them to catch rodents, but give them cat food too.
Tax Prep– $90 Our tax advice and preparation plan allows the cost to be spread over the year.
Dental– $75 Technically we have a sinking fund for dental expenses, but we haven’t been contributing toward it. One of the kids needed some fillings and required sedation since he’s only five. The nitrous oxide isn’t covered by insurance.
Now that we’re done funneling every extra cent toward debt, we are using 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.
Car Repair– $708 My husband’s car needed a new water pump. When he got the car, he assumed it had a new pump since the timing belt had been replaced just two months earlier. Apparently the previous owner didn’t have them done at the same time and the pump was leaking badly. We cash-flowed the repair by using what we had saved up in our car repair fund ($500) along with what we were able to pull together from August’s budget (which is why our savings goals below aren’t as high as we would have liked).
Medical– $250 Normally we set aside $100 a month for future medical expenses. We typically don’t have many medical expenses (and realize that this is a huge blessing), but with the baby coming, we will have some medical bills in the near future. Right now we have $820 saved in our medical fund.
Car Registration & Smog– $0 I skipped this in August. Normally we put $20 in.
Christmas– $20 I had set aside $50 for our Christmas sinking fund, but did a little Christmas shopping and spent $30 of that, so we only contributed $20.
Life Insurance– $70 If we put aside $70 each month, we will have our premiums set aside when they’re due in the fall.
Gifts– $0 Our budget included $35 for a gifts sinking fund, but we ended up spending all $35 this month instead. I purchased a few gifts for my 8-year-old son’s birthday as well as a gift for a party my daughter went to.
Retirement– $539 With my husband’s state job, this amount comes directly out of his paycheck and into his state retirement fund.
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.
Here’s a quick look at our current savings goals. We’ve taken care of taxes, the cost of getting internet installed, and saving for a new (used) car.
The next goal is to beef up our our emergency fund. We’ve set the goal amount at $25,000, so we still have a long way to go! During August, we added $1,000 to our emergency fund, which brings the total up to just over $8,000.
In addition to our financial goals for 2017 and beyond, we’re also saving for some larger items. To make this list, an item must potentially cost $1,000 or more (sometimes much more).
- California King bed— We bought an inexpensive queen mattress set when we were married 12 years ago. It has served us well, but is currently killing our backs. We have been planning on a Cal King bed for years, so my 6’7″ husband can lie down without his feet hanging off the end!
- Desktop Computer— Last year, as we were saving for our house, our desktop computer died. We were eager to replace it, but more eager to get a house. We don’t have a TV, so the computer has been our screen for watching occasional movies. We’ve been getting by using our laptops, but are looking forward to having our normal set-up back.
- Garage Door— Our garage door needs to be replaced (both door and motor). The estimate is something like $2,400.
- Privacy Hedge— We want to plant some sort of hedge along the roadside of our house. Hopefully we can get something planted in the fall/winter when temperatures are milder.
We have prioritized them and will be saving and spending from our “Home Improvement” category for these purchases.
That’s it for us this month. Don’t forget to get your entry in for the My Secret to Saving Contest before September 15th! I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
How About You?
- I’d love to hear about how your budget and/or debt repayment went in August
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