After being out of town for most of April, we’re back to a more normal budget in May, though there are definitely signs of inflation in most categories. We have been more haphazard with our grocery shopping rather than doing one big monthly grocery haul and that shows in our spending. We also have been doing much more driving with all the summer activities than we normally do with all of the kids homeschooling.
As a reminder, everyone’s budget is different. Your budget categories shouldn’t look just like ours. I share our real budget as an example of how one family budgets. I hope it encourages you in your own personal finance adventure.
Okay, onto the numbers!
Income Earned in MAY – $9,651
We live on last month’s income. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, check out the video explaining how living on last month’s income changed our lives or the post explaining how we got to that point.
This income section shows the money we earned in May, which has all been set aside to use in our June budget. The spending section below shows the money we earned in April and spent in May.
Attorney Income – $8,651 Mike works as an attorney for the state of California. This is his take-home pay after taxes, social security, pension contribution, and health insurance premiums. It also includes a small “work-at-home” stipend that he started getting from the state.
Blog Income- $0 I haven’t been giving myself a paycheck every month for two reasons. First, I haven’t done much work on the blog in the past two years. Homeschooling my kids has been my priority and I haven’t figured out the best way to balance my blogging work with my family, which is my most important work. Second, while my blog does produce residual income even when I’m not working on it, it declines every month and no matter what I earn, I have about $500 in blogging overhead expenses each month. Right now I’m holding off on paying myself as I’m reinvesting a chunk of what I’m earning back into the business.
Rental Income – $1,000 We rent a one-bedroom apartment on our property. We had it listed on Airbnb for a few years, but have a long-term renter now instead. Though we don’t earn as much as we did with Airbnb, there are some big perks. Not having to clean and turn over the apartment regularly has been nice since I’m super busy with homeschooling. Also, our renter helps take care of our animals and property when we go out of town. We expect that we’ll go back to Airbnb after our current renter moves out. If you’re thinking about renting out your space on Airbnb, check out Mike’s post about dealing with insurance for your Airbnb rental or our explanation of how we handle our Airbnb finances.
Spending in May
Each month we budget the previous month’s income down to zero. This is how we spent the money we earned in April.
Tithing – $1,058 We always pay a 10% tithe on our income. This tithing, like all of our May spending, comes from the money we earned in April. You can read our thoughts on paying a 10% tithe here.
Fast Offering – $100 Each month we take one day to fast (go without food and drink) for two meals and contribute to a program that provides assistance for local folks who need it.
Mortgage – $2,369 We have a 15-year mortgage on our house. If you’re interested in the details of our Dec 2020 refi, you can check out all of the numbers and details.
Electricity – $149 We were out of town for three weeks of this billing period, so this is a record low bill! This bill covers both our home and our rental which are both completely electric. That will be great once we have our solar installed, but right now the price of electricity keeps going up and up.
Car Insurance – $116 Our insurance is through USAA and we love them! If you, your parent, or your spouse were/are in the military, you’re probably eligible for USAA too!
Internet – $70 Having good internet access is super important with everyone at home for work and school. We’re so glad we invested in bringing internet access to our property when we first bought our house. That $5,000 investment was worth every penny!
Water – $52 Our bill comes every other month so we try to set aside about half of what we anticipate the bill to be.
Garbage- $42 The bill for our curbside trash pickup also comes every other month so we set aside half of the bill each month.
Cell Phones – $75 We have three cell phones: one for me, one for Mike, and one we use as a home phone for when the kids are home without us (or that the older kids take when they babysit or work at someone else’s house). They are all through Visible. Visible is a Verizon subsidiary that offers wifi calling and unlimited cell calls and data on the Verizon network. We’ve been using them for over two years now and have no complaints at all. It is $25 per phone, but right now you can get the first month for just $5 through my link.
We used to use Republic Wireless, which costs a little less, and some readers rave about Mint Mobile’s great service and even lower costs, but neither of those use a network that provides cell signal at our home.
Music Lessons – $165 Our oldest takes piano and french horn lessons.
Food – $771 Our food spending includes both groceries and eating out. We actually ate out a couple of times in May, which is something we normally don’t do. In May we decided to participate in our kids’ swim team’s fundraiser at a local restaurant. Grocery prices are soaring, which means it’s even MORE important to be a smart, strategic grocery shopper! If you are ready to get your family’s grocery spending under control, you’re going to want to sign up for Grocery Budget Hero! You will learn the exact strategies I use to rock our family’s grocery budget (even with rising prices). Enrollment is open now! Get $20 off with the coupon code STARTNOW. That puts your total cost at $59, and I promise you’ll earn many times that back as you stretch your grocery budget hero skills.
Fuel – $484 Gas here is $6.15 right now. We took a short trip (about 6 hours away) at the end of May. Other than that we didn’t do a ton of driving, but in June and July we will be driving a lot.
Household Misc – $250 A big portion of our household miscellaneous budget went to getting some nice new bright flashlights for our caving trip that we took at the end of the month. We got this one and this one which we love because they are suuuper bright and they a rechargeable (no batteries!). We also bought normal household things. We also pay monthly for a Scribd subscription because we love the unlimited access to so many audiobooks.
Clothing – $140 – We took a trip to our favorite thrift store and got lots of great clothing items. I also ordered some new church clothes for our fast-growing 12-year-old.
Animals – $150 We bought a dozen new baby chicks and ducklings and all the things they require. We still have about a dozen mature hens, but they are getting older so we got another generation.
Allowances – $84 Because our allowance system is age-based, we increase this monthly amount as kids have birthdays. We give our kids “practice money” as a weekly allowance. You can read all about why we decided to pay our kids allowance that’s not directly tied to chores, as well as all the details of when and how much in this blog post.
Homeschool – $0 We didn’t allot any money to homeschooling in May. We bought a few small things, but that was covered by money that was already sitting in that category from books we had previously sold. We did take a trip to the zoo, but that will be reimbursed by our homeschool charter.
For most of our budget categories, we zero out what is left at the end of the month and send it to whatever our big financial goal is at the time, but in our sinking funds we set aside money each month for periodic expenses and let it build up until we need it.
The amount in bold is the amount we added to the fund this month. Any spending is noted in the comments along with the current balance of each fund.
We do not have separate bank accounts for these funds. All of the money sits in our checking account. We’re not worried about getting the money mixed up because we spend according to our budget category balances, not our checking account balance. We seriously never even look at our checking account balance unless we’re reconciling the account. We track our budget categories and spending in YNAB.
Medical/Dental – $400 added. We paid $621 for an ER visit for a broken wrist when we were on our trip to Ohio in April. Current category balance is $831.
Car Maintenance – $0 added. We spent $81 on an oil change in May. Current category balance is $2,386.
Christmas – $100 added. We didn’t spend anything for Christmas 2022. Current category balance is $638.
Disability Insurance- $190 This will replace about 2/3 of Mike’s current income if injury or illness leaves him unable to work as an attorney. Our income potential is our greatest financial asset right now and disability insurance helps us protect it. I moved this down to the “sinking funds” portion of the budget update, since that is how we treat it now. We actually just paid the premium, so we’re starting over. Some of this month’s contribution went to the previous premium. Current category balance is $344.
Life Insurance – $75 added. Next year’s life insurance premiums will be due in November. Current category balance is $479.
Birthdays & Gifts – $0 added. We spent $0 on gifts in April. Current category balance is $141.
Car Registration & Smog – $0 added. We didn’t do any spending here. Current category balance is $60.
Family Fun Fund – $0 added. We didn’t add anything to this category, but spent $94. We paid for the zoo trip for those of us who aren’t students. We also got the bill for the toll roads we traveled when we were on our trip in April. Current category balance is $821.
Home Projects- $1,210 added. We didn’t plan to add this much to this category, but some things came up so we had to move money around to make this possible. Mike did some home repairs which required buying a hammer drill. We also bought a new Stihl string trimmer so we can have two weedwhackers going at once on our property. The category balance is currently $0.
Garden & Orchard- $0 added. We spend $28 on seeds. The category balance is currently $12.
Kids’ 529s – $150 We know that $25 per kid per month invested for college isn’t much, but college costs are not our highest concern. Scholarships, grants, loans, and jobs during school worked for us. We may accelerate this savings later, but we’re ok with small, consistent payments right now. The kids like to see their balances growing, and it adds up and teaches them good savings principles, even if it won’t entirely pay for school. You can read about our decision to start saving a little for college in this post.
IRA (Steph) – $500 With $500 monthly, I’ll max out my $6,000 IRA contribution for the year. Mike has about $950 each month deducted directly from his paycheck into a pension fund.
We are pausing our mortgage payoff goal for the next two years to tackle a new goal. Mike and I shared all the details here about why we are getting solar, how much it costs, and how we’re planning to pay for it here in this recent post.
We started making payments on the $50,000 loan in April.
We also have another $20,000 that will be due by the time everything is done. The total cost is $70,000 (plus about $3,000 of interest on the $50K loan if we pay it off in 2 years).
Our contribution to our solar goal in May wasn’t very impressive at $604.
That brings the total we’ve saved toward paying for solar to $10,655.
I made a chart to keep track of our progress. I color in a little square for each $250 we put toward our solar purchase.
How About You?
- How did your budget and/or debt repayment go in May?
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