For over three years we’ve shared our family’s complete, transparent finances. A lot has changed in that time. We started out with six figures of student loan debt and a much smaller income.
Now that we’re done paying off debt, we’re focusing on saving for a house. That’s a little daunting considering the house prices in California. We likely won’t have 20% down like we did when we bought our first home and did a lot of things right. That’s fine with us. We’re in a different place with our family and our finances than we were eight years ago when we bought our first home.
Still, we’re committed to taking some of the taboo out of money by openly talking about it. Here we share what we earn, spend, and save each month. We’ll start with saving!
In November, we put $6,672 toward our three pre-house goals, which brings out total to $24,692, or about 75% of our goal. You can read about our pre-house goals in detail here. While we have them lumped together here, in our YNAB budget where we keep track of them, they are divided evenly between the three goals.
In addition to adding to our savings goal, we used some of our pre-house savings goal money for it’s intended use this month. We opened a new IRA with Vanguard and put $1,000 in it. We also spent $5,390 on a replacement van. For the sake of measuring our goal, I’m including the amount we already used in my total numbers and in my graphic below.
Our total net income for November was $9,719. 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 December.
Attorney Income (Day Job)– $5,470 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 $4,490. 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. He recently had a 5% pay increase thanks to a new union contract.
Attorney Income (Private Practice)– $1,504– On top of working full-time (and a three-hour round-trip commute), my husband has his own private law practice on the side. He started it last year to help speed up our debt payoff. His income fluctuates greatly from month to month.
My Income (Blog)– $2,745 The income that I report is the income that I received this month minus all of my blogging expenses. Well, all of my expenses except taxes. We will deal with that one early next year.
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. I have something especially exciting that I’ll be sharing this week!
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 November came from the income we earned in October. In addition to the savings goal above, here’s how we spent money in November:
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. 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 will 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 next year.
Republic Wireless Cell Phones– $23 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. If your cell phone bill is killing you, I definitely recommend that you check them out!
Health Insurance– $513 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 over $200 after he hit the one-year mark at his job. We’re pretty excited about that.
Car Insurance– $107 We insure two older vehicles (both 1997). Insurance for our new van will appear in next month’s budget report. 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.
Food– $304 I was hoping to have an extra low food budget in November, but it ended up turning out pretty standard. Actually I’m glad that I started out having a low food budget in the plans because I was able to fit a 40 lb order of boneless skinless chicken breasts from Zaycon Fresh into our normal food budget! I’m really excited that I discovered Zaycon and am looking forward to picking up my meat in the new year! If you can make room in your budget to buy meat in bulk, then you’ll save money ordering from Zaycon.
Gas– $565 Our gas costs were up this month, which isn’t surprising considering we took a road trip to Arizona for Thanksgiving.
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– $55 While we were in Arizona, we took some non-professional family pictures. In my rush to pack for our trip, I didn’t come up with coordinating outfits for the six of us, so I made a trip to the thrift store and outfitted our family. Thankfully, these are clothes we’ll keep wearing, not just one-time outfits.
Household– $165 In addition to the normal things, we replaced two light fixtures here in our basement abode. We also found a great deal on glass drinking glasses, which we’re going to save until we get a new house. Most of ours have been victims of our concrete basement floors.
Entertainment– $122 Normally our entertainment budget is pretty non-existent, but we took the kids to their first amusement park over Thanksgiving weekend. I had 4 tickets to Knott’s Berry Farm and I bought a fifth ticket (our sixth family member is too young to have to pay). This includes our food at the park and the toll roads we took to get there. Earlier in the month we watched a VidAngel movie. Finally, last week our littlest one accidentally rented a movie on Amazon from one of our Kindles.
Car Repair– $6 I bought oil for the blue van (old van) on the same day we bought the new van (white van). It was low on oil and I still needed to drive it about 40 miles that day. I didn’t want to kill the engine before we could get $1,500 through the vehicle retirement program.
Medical– $50 We had to take our 8-year-old to the emergency room while we were in Arizona. This $50 represents our entire copay. You can read the story here.
Christmas– $250 We set aside $250 for Christmas and spent most of it throughout the month. I’m trying to get Christmas shopping done a little earlier this year.
Retirement– $511 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.
Life Insurance– $707 Our annual life insurance premiums are due in November. In the future we will use sinking funds to set aside a portion of this each month, but we haven’t been doing that during our debt payoff.
Well there you have it! Our personal finances made public!
Your budget probably looks completely different and that’s just fine! I don’t post these details for the sake of comparison. You can read how I feel about that here.
I hope you are making strides toward your goals. If you are just starting out on your journey to pay off debt, check out my Smash Debt Quick-Start Guide to help you get organized and make a plan to pay off your debt!
How About You?
- I’d love to hear about how your budget and/or debt repayment went in November!
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