It’s time for another transparent monthly budget update! I realized that this month’s real numbers budget report marks 5 years of personal finance made public. FIVE YEARS! For five years I’ve been sharing the ins and outs of our family’s finances with the world. How crazy is that?!
Well, in the beginning it wasn’t really the world. It was mostly crickets. I didn’t tell my family or friends about Six Figures Under for a very long time. I had a significant readership established long before anyone I knew in real life ever knew about my blog.
If you want to reminisce with me, take a peek at my first-ever transparent budget update. A lot has changed since then. Most notably, that our current mortgage (albeit a 15-year mortgage) is more than what my husband’s take-home pay was!
All this reflection has me feeling grateful to all of you who read what I write here. I don’t know how you found me, but I’m glad you did.
Thank you for encouraging us through our years of paying off debt. Thank you for celebrating our victories with us.
Thank you for sticking around even after our debt-free journey is through! Strike that… we still have a mortgage, so we’ll be six figures under for a while yet. Our debt-free journey continues!
We have some exciting things on the horizon that I can’t wait to share with you!!
Until then, here’s our budget report from last month. As always, my hope is that you will not get caught up in comparing numbers, but will be motivated and inspired to dig into your own finances so you can set and achieve your own financial goals. I want Six Figures Under to be a resource of encouragement for you along your path to reaching your financial goals.
Here are the numbers from September 2018!
Our total income for September was $9,933. Since we live on last month’s income, this is money that we’ve been holding to start spending in October.
Attorney Income (Day Job)– $6,546 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 $5,407 but I add back in the cost of the benefits (insurance, dental, vision, parking, and retirement) that are automatically taken out of his check so that we can tithe on that money.
Attorney Income (Private Practice)– $1,337 My husband has a part-time private law practice on the side, but the income from it (and when he is paid) varies wildly.
My Income (Blog)– $2,050 Of this, I’m setting aside 25% for taxes ($513) and distributing $1,537 to the family checking account as my paycheck. I use Blog Finance Spreadsheets to keep track of everything. Elite Blog Academy is the course I took back in 2014 that set me up for blogging success.
Each month we budget down to zero using last month’s income. This change revolutionized our budget! 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 September came from the income we earned in August. Here’s how we spent money in September.
Other Giving– $80– Other charitable giving this month.
Mortgage– $3,200 We recently refinanced our mortgage from a 30-year to a 15-year mortgage. If you want to see all the numbers and read about why we did it, read this post that my husband wrote explaining everything!
If you want to know more about our house finances, 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– $185 We get our electric bill at the beginning of the month for the electricity we used in the previous month. Our September bill from last year was $337 (though we had renters then, so it was two households), so $185 sounds pretty good!
In addition to saving money by saving electricity, we also earn money by reducing our electric usage. If you’re in California, Toronto or Texas, you should definitely check out the OhmConnect program. I have a new post and video all about the program.
Water– $50 Our water bill comes every other month, so I just set aside approximately half of what I expect the bill to be.
Trash– $32 Our bill for trash service comes every other month, so I set aside half of the bill each month. We’re currently paying for curbside pickup, but that’s not the only way to do it. If you’re trying to cut every expense to its bare minimum, here are some ideas to save on trash service.
Internet– $70 We are happy to pay for internet. When we first moved into our home, reliable internet was only a dream as the property had no access to fiber, cable, DSL, or fixed wireless.
Home Phone- $4 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 charge is minimal ($4) and the initial set-up (hardware, etc) was under $100. If you think Ooma might work for you, that link will also get you a $20 credit through that link.
Republic Wireless Cell Phones– $15 We’ve been using Republic Wireless as our cell phone carrier for over three years now. This covers the cost of service for my phone, including all taxes and fees. (We’re on the Republic Refund plan from a few years ago which is no longer available; an equivalent plan for a new user today would be $20/month). 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 out Republic Wireless!
Health Insurance– $316 We have insurance through my husband’s employer. This is the portion of the insurance premium that his employer does not cover. The total coverage includes health, dental and vision insurance premiums. This $316 is deducted directly from his paycheck and goes straight to the insurance company, so it never makes it to our hands.
Car Insurance– $168 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 father-in-law was in the service years ago. If you, your parent, or your spouse were/are in the military, you’re probably eligible for USAA too!
Food– $402 Hooray for sticking to our $400/month food budget! I did a monthly grocery haul at the beginning of September, though I didn’t get the post and video up until the end of the month. I did several small grocery trips throughout the month. This total also includes eating at In-N-Out as a family and getting pizza at Sam’s Club’s cafe.
Gas– $467 Our gas spending seriously increased during September. I drive my boys to and from school every day and drive my older daughter to several homeschool and extra-curricular activities during the week. My husband still spends two and a half hours a day commuting 3 or 4 days a week.
Parking– $165 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– $195 I got my husband another new suit from an ebay seller who sells new Jos A Bank suits. He wears a kind of odd size because he’s really tall, so I get excited when I find a good deal in his size. We got a couple of dresses for our oldest who has quickly grown out of most of hers (we got this one and this one). I also got some new jeans for my oldest son who is currently outgrowing everything!
Household– $203 We got a huge spool of string trimmer line that will hopefully last us 2 years. We got new camp chairs that were on end-of-season clearance. Our big kids were still sitting on their preschool-sized camp chairs, so we decided it was a good time to get chairs that fit. We also picked up leaf bags, dishwasher detergent, mascara, and other random household goodies.
Fun– $0 I originally budgeted some fun money, but ended up moving it to a different category near the end of the month. Like I mentioned earlier, we did go out for pizza and In-N-Out this month, but covered those costs in our food budget.
Animals– $63 We got three bags of chicken feed and one 55 lb bag of cat food.
Tax Prep– $90 Our tax advice and preparation plan allows the cost to be spread over the year. Some people wonder why we pay so much for this (a total of $1080 a year.) That’s a valid question. We prepared our own returns for years, but in the last few years, as our income sources have been varied, we’ve found the planning and preparation more than pays for itself in minimized tax payments (actual dollars saved), not to mention to the additional peace of mind.
Allowances– $60 We give our kids “practice money” as a weekly allowance. Each week they get $.50 per year of their age. I’ll explain our system and how it works in an upcoming post, but if you want a sneak peek, check out the book The Opposite of Spoiled.
Kids Activities/School– $66 This includes school supplies and things for extra-curricular activities.
Now that we’re done funneling all of our extra money toward debt, we use 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.
The amount in bold is the amount that was added to the fund this month. Any spending from the fund is noted in the comments, along with the current category balance.
We do not have separate accounts for these funds. All of the money lives in our checking account. I’m not a bit worried about getting the money mixed up because we spend according to our category balances, not our checking account balance. We seriously never even look at our checking account balance unless we’re reconciling our account. We track our budget categories and spending in YNAB.
Home Projects– $314 We added $314 to the $1,045 that was sitting in this fund to help with the updates on the rental. Our renters moved out at the end of July so we decided to go the vacation rental route, which means we needed to furnish and decorate it. We also used the $2,000 that we had set aside as something of a rental emergency fund (back before we started paying ourselves any of the rent proceeds). I’ll be giving the detailed scoop on the financial side of setting up our Airbnb rental soon. We currently have $0 remaining in the home projects category.
Dental– $30 We didn’t spend anything this month. We have $233 in the dental sinking fund right now.
Medical– $100 We didn’t spend any of our medical funds in August. Our current balance for medical is the same as last month: $791.
Car Repair– $300 Driving older cars, it’s always exciting to have a month where we don’t spend anything on car repair! The current balance in our car repair fund is $927.
Car Registration & Smog– $40 We currently have $304 in this fund.
Christmas– $100 We put in the full $100 this month, but I spent $113 getting a few Christmas gifts, including Christmas Eve pajamas for the kiddos and this book that I’ve wanted to get for each of my kids’ four grandparents. I have been contemplating the book for a year now, so when I saw the price was as low as I had ever seen it, I bought 4 of them. We currently have $744 in our Christmas fund.
Life Insurance– $70 If we put aside $70 each month, we will have our premiums set aside when they’re due.
Gifts– $40 This is our fund for birthday and other gifts. We spent $6 on a gift for our one-year-old’s birthday and $11 on something for the upcoming birthday of our middle son. We currently have $239 in our gifts fund.
Retirement– $631 With my husband’s state job, this amount comes directly out of his paycheck and into his state retirement fund.
College Savings– $125 We put $25 per kid into 529 accounts. More on our decision to start saving for college in this post.
Vacation/Family Reunion– $0 We didn’t contribute to this category in September, so we’re still sitting at $93.
Our savings goal for 2018 is $26,000 ($15,000 toward our emergency fund and $11,000 to my IRA).
Our goal for 2018 is to reach $25,000 in our emergency fund (we started out with about $10,000 at the beginning of the year). We reached this goal in July. In September we didn’t add anything to our emergency fund now that we have reached our goal.
In September we contributed $550 to my IRA. We automate this contribution each month so that by the end of 2018 my IRA will be maxed out.
At the end of September we are at $24,350, which is about 94% of our goal!
So the rest of our 2018 saving goal is just to put $550 in the last 3 months of the year. Hopefully we will be able to save for a few more (small) house projects as well.
There you have it! Personal finance made public!
How About You?
- How did your budget and/or debt repayment go in September!?
- How is your progress on your financial goals for 2018?
- Any budgeting questions you’d like me to address in the future?
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