Happy April! It’s that time again when we make our budget public. Unlike some other budget posts, I don’t just share how we planned to spend our money, but how it actually worked out.
Showing what we earn and how we spend and save our money gives you a little insight into how our family lives on a budget. Hopefully it encourages you to keep track of your own finances.
March was the first month we lived full-time in our new home. We’re pretty well unpacked and I’m happy with all the progress we’ve made. Of course there are lots of (small) unplanned expenses, but nothing that a little budget juggling can’t handle.
Here are all the details!
Our total income for March was $13,027. 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 during April.
Attorney Income (Day Job)– $5,509 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 $4,407 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)– $5,230– On top of working full-time, 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. After an estimated 30% for taxes ($1,569), that leaves $3,661 to “take home” (and put towards 2016 taxes!).
My Income (Blog)– $2,288 The income that I report is the income that I received this month minus all of my blogging expenses. This was one of my lower months, as the past months of taking time off in December and being sick in January are now showing up in my income. Of this, I set 30% ($686) aside for self-employment taxes and the remainder ($1,602) goes into the family budget.
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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 March came from the income we earned in February. Here’s how we spent money in March:
Tithing– $1,395 We happily pay a 10% tithe on our total income from the previous month (February). 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– $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!
Electricity– $155 We’re just beginning to learn what “normal” is for us. The provider’s website has some great analytics that will help us minimize our bill, but we don’t have internet right now, so I haven’t spend much time looking at them.
Water– $69 We got our first water bill this month and at $99, it had me freaking out at first. Thankfully (?) Half of it was a charge for opening a new account. We had set aside $30 last month for our water bill, so that offset what we had to pay this month.
Internet– $240 If you get my emails, you already know that fantastic news that the final quote/bill for getting cable internet brought to our house is $4,900 (which is $1,400 less than their original quote). Once we pay our taxes, this will be our next focus, but we set a little aside toward that goal. Having internet again will be wonderful!
Republic Wireless Cell Phones– $35 We’ve been using Republic Wireless as our cell phone carrier for over two years now. This 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– $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.
Car Insurance– $151 We are currently paying insurance on three vehicles (hopefully this will be the last month of that). 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!
Food– $366 That’s a little higher than the $300 we aim for (and used to get consistently), but I’m starting to think it will be our new normal. My three older kids (ages 9, 7, 5) have incredible appetites these days!
Gas– $513 While my husband’s commute is down to about an hour, I have a commute now too—taking the kids to school, which is an hour round trip. Some days I go hang out at my in-laws, so that I don’t have to go all the way home while the kids are at school. It’s worth it to us, though, to let the kids finish up the year at the same school.
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– $50 At the beginning of the year we bought the kids nice tennis shoes in hopes that they would last longer than the Walmart shoes we had purchased previously. Their Nikes lasted four months. Ugh. Talk about disappointment! We got new tennis shoes and a pair of dress shoes for my second-grader and a pair of tennis shoes for my third grader. I also got some sandals, but I’ll be returning them as they didn’t fit as I had hoped.
Household– $197 This includes everything from toiletries and cleaning supplies to new toothbrush holders and an electric pencil sharpener. I got some containers for organizing all of the kids arts and craft supplies and to finish organizing toys. We also got a Sam’s Club membership. Ours expired a while back and I’ve been waiting for a deal to get another one. I took advantage of the Groupon deal that’s going on now.
Fun– $0 We enjoyed some free fun, including trying our the riding lawn mower that came with our house and watching our new chicks and ducks.
Home Improvement– $437 We bought a push mower to tackle some of our acreage (the riding mower can only get to a small portion of our steep and hilly property. We bought various other small necessities for other projects we have going on. We also bought some seeds and a few garden things.
Furniture– $40 We got an amazing solid wood “captain’s bed” for our oldest. It has built-in dresser drawers under the bed and a bookshelf headboard. I had my eye on it at the thrift store for six weeks. On half-off day, I went in early and brought it home with me! My husband can’t get over what a great find it was. “I couldn’t even get the wood to build one for this price!”
Gifts– $30 We went to a wedding reception for a friend.
Animals– $237 We now have a flock of 16 baby chicks and 3 ducklings to keep our adult duck company. We needed heat lamps, feeders, waterers, feed, chicken wire and other various things for new chicken owners. We also adopted a “barn cat,” who was ours for less than two hours before he escaped. We like to think he’s hiding on our property hunting mice and gophers, but we haven’t seen him to verify that.
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– $150 Since we both drive older cars, we will definitely need this sometime in the future.
Medical– $100 We’re blessed to be medically uncomplicated, but we want to have a reserve of money for future incidents.
Car Registration & Smog– $40 This is another periodic expense that we want to have set aside for when we need it.
Christmas– $50 This is our first time having a sinking fund for Christmas!
Life Insurance– $70 If we put this much in each month, we will have our premiums set aside for when they’re due in the fall.
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 progress on our current savings goals.
When we budgeted at the beginning of March, we put $6,000 toward our tax savings. We also put $1,000 into our emergency fund to get it back to where it was before we borrowed from it for the closing costs on our home purchase.
The next goal we’ll be tackling is getting $4,900 together so that we can pay for constructing the cable internet line out to our house. I don’t think I’ve ever been so eager to pay that much money! 😉
How About You?
- I’d love to hear about how your budget and/or debt repayment went in March!
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