I’ve been a little quiet around here because I’ve been crazy busy homeschooling my 4 older kiddos (K-7). I definitely underestimated the time and energy it would take, but overall it is going well.
But you know me well enough to know that even when life is busy, we still take time to keep a budget and manage our money. We do it because we have goals! We know that if we don’t make a plan for our money it will disappear and we won’t know what happened to it. Plus, we love making progress toward our goals.
You probably also know that I’m a big fan of the month-ahead budget using YNAB, but I will readily admit that it’s not THE only way to have a successful budget! While I’ve heard from so many readers and subscribers that they have also fallen head-over-heels for month-ahead budgeting, there are lots of ways to create and stick to a budget.
If what you’ve tried in the past hasn’t worked, don’t give up. It might take multiple tries and experimenting with multiple techniques before you get in your budgeting groove and figure out what really works for you.
I’m all about sharing with you what works for our family. But our way isn’t the only way.
Now, let’s jump into the numbers. For a live budget walkthrough in YNAB check out the video below. For all the written details, just scroll on down.
Income Earned in November – $9,328
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 November, which has all been set aside to use in our November budget. The spending section below shows the money we earned in October and spent in November.
Attorney Income – $6,823 Mike works as an attorney for the state of California. This is his take-home pay after taxes, social security, and health insurance premiums. He recently got a pay increase, but still has the pandemic-related 10% pay cut like all California state employees.
Blogging Income – $1,505 This is my blogging income after expenses have been taken out. My blog has really taken a backseat to life right now, but I’m thankful that it still brings in something even if it is neglected.
Rental Income – $1,000 We rent the one-bedroom apartment on our property. We’ve had it listed on Airbnb for the last few years, but we have a long-term renter now instead. Though we make much less in rent than we did with Airbnb, there are some big perks. We don’t have to clean and turn over the apartment between stays and with covid it’s nice to have something steady. We expect that we’ll go back to Airbnb after our current renter moves out. If you’re thinking about renting out your space, 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 November
Each month we budget the previous month’s income down to zero. This is how we spent the money we earned in October.
Tithing – $998 We always pay a 10% tithe on our income. This tithing (like all of our November spending) comes from the money we earned in October. 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 charity program that helps provide for the local poor.
Mortgage – $2,837 We re-financed our 15-year mortgage to a rate of 2.875% back in December 2019, which was an amazing rate then. Rates have gone down even more since then; as low as 2.3% APR today! If you have dependable income and a mortgage, there’s serious savings waiting for you on one of life’s biggest expenses. Mike shares our experience with a true no-cost mortgage re-fi, with all the numbers you could want. Anyone with a current mortgage rate above three percent is likely to find a better rate now. Check out the post to see how you might be able to save.
Electricity – $173 Our electric bill covers both our home and our rental. Our house and rental are both completely electric, with no gas or propane. It’s nice to have this bill going down now that it’s fall.
Car Insurance – $78 We took Mike’s vehicle off the insurance at the beginning of the pandemic when we realized he would be working from home indefinitely. We’re essentially a one-car family now and saving on insurance and registration. We have insurance with USAA and 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 at home is super important now 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 (a $5,000 investment)!
Water – $78 This bill comes every other month. Last month we set aside $150 and the bill was $228, so we just needed an additional $78.
Cell Phones – $50 After years with Republic Wireless, we both switched our cell phones to Visible. We still think Republic Wireless is a great option for people with good reception from Sprint or T-Mobile, but at our house, Verizon is the only carrier with a reliable cell signal. Visible is a Verizon subsidiary that offers wifi calling and unlimited cell calls and data on the Verizon 4G LTE network, all for $25 a month! Having cell signal to complement our wifi access is especially important for us since our power company here in California periodically shuts off power because of wildfire danger. No power means no wifi and without cell reception, that meant that with Republic Wireless we had no phone service during power outages. We’re happy paying a few dollars more each month to Visible for more reliable communication.
Another great choice for affordable cell phones is Mint Mobile, especially if you want to bring your own phone. I’ve had readers rave about their great service and you can get data for even less than Republic Wireless.
Orthodontist – $61 Since our oldest gets her braces adjusted every other month, we’re treating this as a monthly bill rather than paying it all up front. These payments will last for another year.
Disability Insurance- $151 This will replace about 2/3 of Mike’s current income for the rest of his life if injury or illness leaves him unable to work. Our income potential is our greatest financial asset right now and this insurance helps us protect it.
Piano – $120 Our oldest started piano lessons with me but has now graduated to a teacher who isn’t mom. The next three kids are still taking lessons from me.
Food – $463 We didn’t have a normal monthly grocery haul this month since we were gone for more than half of the month, but we still bought food.
Fuel – $484 This looks like a pre-covid gas budget because we took a road trip in November.
Household Misc – $169 We got some regular household things, including some things for our road trip.
Clothing – $58 – I ordered some clothes from The Children’s Place and got shoes for our younger daughter.
Animals – $25 We got a bag of cat food.
Kids’ Activities/School – $0
Allowances – $70 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.
For most of our budget categories, we zero out what is left at the end of the month and send it to our mortgage payoff goal, 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 spent $2,910 on medical bills, which pretty much wiped out this category. We hit our deductible. Current category balance is $38.
Car Maintenance – $0 added. We decided to stop putting money toward this category for now. We have a nice balance and we’re only driving one car, and rarely, so we don’t have a lot of maintenance to do. Current category balance is $3,973.
Christmas – $100 added. We spent $34 on some early Christmas spending! Current category balance is $647.
Life Insurance – $75 added. Normally we add $75 per month here and then we have what we need for our life insurance premiums which will be due next November. Current category balance is $75.
Birthdays & Gifts – $40 added. We spent $0 on gifts in October. Current category balance is $306.
Car Registration & Smog – $0 added. We aren’t adding to this category for now. Current category balance is $461.
Family Fun Fund – $0 added. We didn’t add to or spend from this category in September. Current category balance is $745.
Car Fund – $0 added. We were saving to buy a more efficient commuter car for Mike, but since it looks like he will be working from home for a while still, we’re pausing the $550 monthly contributions we were making to this fund. In fact, we took $1,220 from this category and moved it to the home projects category. Current category balance is $5,059.
Preparedness – $100 added. I stocked up on some emergency chocolate (clearance Halloween candy). Current category balance is $64.
Home Projects- $300 added. We didn’t spend anything on our garden project, but we put aside some money because we will be buying fruit trees soon. The category balance is currently $300.
Kids’ 529s – $125 We know that $25 per kid per month invested for college isn’t much, but we’re not super concerned about college costs. Scholarships, grants, loans, and jobs during school worked for us. We may accelerate this savings later, but it’s not our highest priority now. 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 2020. Mike has a little over $700 each month deducted directly from his paycheck into a pension fund.
Mortgage Payoff Goal Progress
Our big financial goal right now is paying off our mortgage. At the end of 2018 we made a goal to pay it off in 5 years. It looks kind of impossible on paper right now. We’ve made some adjustments to our priorities (hello garden!), so if we don’t make it exactly in our five-year time frame, we’ll be ok with that too. You can read about our mortgage-payoff goal here and see the numbers for our most recent re-fi here.
We paid $1,533 of principal in our normal November mortgage payment, but we didn’t put any EXTRA toward the principal this month. We did set aside $1,755 to put toward the principal, but we’re actually going to save it for closing costs on a new mortgage refi that’s happening soon. We’ll explain more about it soon.
That brings our totals to:
Current balance (after November 2020 payment): $273,131
Original balance of 15-year mortgage: $372,700
Balance at start of 5-year goal (Nov 2018): $363,171
Percent of 5-year goal reached: 24.8%
Percent of 5-year time elapsed (25 mo): 41.7%. Yep, we’re behind!
You can get this hand-drawn brick house printable progress chart here. I love that it has LOTS of spaces (365 in total) so that we can color it in often and celebrate our progress! It would work great for paying off your mortgage OR saving for a down payment.
Whew! That was a lot of numbers. Thanks for reading our personal finances made public!
How About You?
- How did your budget and/or debt repayment go in November?
This post contains affiliate links for products or services that we love and recommend.