January was not at all what I expected. I started January all geared up to have a no-spend month. The first week or so went well.
Then I got sick. Really miserably sick.
It was all I could do to feed my kids some days. Baking bread and making thoughtfully planned meals was out of the question. I had my husband bring home dinner on more than one occasion, which is totally out of line with the way we normally do things around here.
Thankfully, because we started out with a no-spend mentality, we didn’t end up going off the deep end and were still under out normal $300 food budget.
And the good news is that I’m feeling like a human again, so you’ll be hearing from me more regularly again. Thank you to those of you who reached out to me wondering if I had fallen off the planet! 😉
January also brought some exciting news, which I’ll be sharing with you on Friday (it deserves its own post). Until then, here’s what January ended up looking like.
Our total net income for January was $12,154. 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 February.
Attorney Income (Day Job)– $5,508 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 $4,406. 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)– $1,972– 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)– $4,674 The income that I report is the income that I received this month minus all of my blogging expenses. Of this, I set 30% ($1,402) aside for self-employment taxes and the remainder ($3,272) 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. If you’re looking for a tool to track your own blogging income and expenses, check out the Blog Finance Spreadsheets. And if you’re looking to increase your own blog income, check out Ruth Soukup’s free ebook 7 Surefire Ways to Increase Your Blog Income Overnight.
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 January came from the income we earned in December. Here’s how we spent money in January:
Tithing– $1,189 We happily pay a 10% tithe on our total income from the previous month. You can read more about why we paid tithing even when we were in debt. Since we pre-paid a big chunk of tithing at the end of 2016 (for tax reasons), this didn’t actually come out of out pockets this month, but we’re keeping track so we know when we’ve reached the end of our $8,000 of pre-paid tithing.
Other Giving– $80 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 (we’re on the Republic Refund plan). 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 back up next month.
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– $262 The original plan for January was to spend $25 per week on milk and produce, bot other than that have a no-spend month. Like I said in the beginning of this post, that was a complete flop. The upside is that
Gas– $422 The majority of our gas spending comes from my husband’s commute, but living in the boonies means everything else is far too.
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 We managed to have a complete no-spend month in one category at least! 🙂
Household– $54 We didn’t have toilet paper to get us through a no-spend month, so that was a priority right at the beginning of the month. I also had to get re-stocked on the toothpaste that my children like. It’s not carried at stores we usually go to, so I always get it online and stock up.
Entertainment– $2 We got a Redbox movie for the kids.
Car Repair– $277 My husband’s car needed two new tires. He also bought new rotors for the van. He will be replacing the brakes (bought last month) and rotors on the van himself, hopefully this weekend!
Medical– $18 My little girl had a double ear infection. This covers the co-pay for the doctor’s visit and antibiotics. A side note on the antibiotics. My kids aren’t good medicine-takers, but I have had great success hiding her amoxicillin in pudding, applesauce, yogurt, or pumpkin custard. It has worked like a charm! No fighting the syringe or spitting up pink syrup everywhere!
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.
In January, we put $10,000 toward our three pre-house goals, which brings out total to $41,272, which exceeds our goal of $33,000 (and our deadline of Dec 2016). You can read about our pre-house goals in detail here.
For the sake of measuring our goal and keeping things straight, this big number includes the goal-related spending that couldn’t wait until the end. In November, we spent some 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). Then in December we used $8,000 to pre-pay some of our tithing for 2017 (a tax strategy we’re trying out this year). That alone should reduce our tax bill by about $3,200!
So what did we end up doing with the rest of our pre-house savings?
Well, what we ended up doing with the rest of our “pre-house” money was different than the original plan. I’m really excited to go into detail about what we did with those funds, but it deserves it’s own post, for sure. Stop by on Friday for the full story!
How About You?
- I’d love to hear about how your budget and/or debt repayment went in January!
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