Publishing our family’s budget update for September is kind of a milestone for me. The very first time I shared our real numbers budget here was September 2013. That makes EIGHT years our making our family’s personal finances public. For most people that’s a crazy idea.
And it was for us at first too. When I suggested it, I thought Mike would never go for it. He’s a pretty private guy, but to my surprise he was totally game for the idea. He’s confident in who he is and doesn’t let net worth dictate self-worth.
At the time we started sharing our budget and numbers, we were working to pay off six figures of student loan debt and earning under $40,000 a year. Our budget was quite different then.
Fast forward eight years. We double our number children from 3 to 6. Our income has more than tripled. Our non-mortgage debt is paid off.
But you know what’s still the same? We’re still budgeting, and we’re still sharing it here!
If you’ve followed us on this journey, I hope you’ve grasped the value of a budget. Budgeting isn’t something you have to do because money is tight. Budgeting is something you get to do so that you make sure you use your money for what’s most important to you. It’s how you get your money to work for you. We budgeted making $40K a year and we’ll still be budgeting when we’re making $400K a year!
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox and onto the numbers from September!
Income Earned in SEPTEMBER – $10,004
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 September, which has all been set aside to use in our October budget. The spending section below shows the money we earned in August and spent in September.
Attorney Income – $7,504 Mike works as an attorney for the state of California. This is his take-home pay after taxes, social security, and health insurance premiums.
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 year. 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. I figured I would hold off on paying myself since I wasn’t doing much work and wasn’t earning very much. I paid myself in July and I probably will pay myself again in December.
Rental Income – $1,000 We rent the 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. We don’t have to clean and do a full Covid-disinfect and airing of the apartment between stays, for one. 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.
Child Tax credit – $1,500 In September we received another child tax credit payout. It’s actually supposed to be a little more, but that will get all straightened out at tax time. We are putting it into the budget like normal income, but essentially it gets funneled right into our family travel fund.
Spending in September
Each month we budget the previous month’s income down to zero. This is how we spent the money we earned in August.
Tithing – $1,138 We always pay a 10% tithe on our income. This tithing, like all of our September spending, comes from the money we earned in August. 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 – $2,369 We re-financed our 15-year mortgage to a 2.375% rate in December 2020 and this is our current monthly payment. If you’re interested, you can check out all of the numbers and re-fi details.
Electricity – $305 This electric bill covers both our home and our rental. Both are completely electric, with no gas or propane. I think we’ve only used our air conditioning twice so far this summer. It has been hot, but it usually cools off pretty nicely at night, so if we’re strategic with when we open the windows and when we close the windows and blinds, we can keep the temperature tolerable.
Car Insurance – $116 Our auto 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 – $91 We had $150 set aside from last month, so we just needed $91 to cover the bill which comes every other month.
Garbage- $45 The bill for our curbside trash pickup comes every other month so we set aside half of the bill each month.
Cell Phones – $55 We have two phones with Visible, a Verizon subsidiary that offers wifi calling and unlimited cell calls and cell data on the Verizon 4G LTE network. Each phone is $25 a month! We’ve been using them for about two years now and have no complaints at all. If you’re interested, right now you can get the first month for just $5 to give it a try!
Orthodontist – $61 This is our last month of this bill now that our oldest got her braces off!
Disability Insurance- $185 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.
Piano – $120 We pay $120 per month on piano lessons for our oldest. She started out learning from me, but after she proved she was serious about learning and had advanced to a certain point, it was time for her to move on.
Food – $470 Our normal monthly food budget is around $500 for our family of 8, so this was on the low side. We had lots of squash, tomatoes, peppers, and melons coming from the garden. I plan to get back to my monthly grocery haul posts/videos soon.
Fuel – $184 We didn’t drive much in September. Gas here is around $4.40 except at Sam’s Club where it’s still $3.99 (but since it’s 30 minutes away, I can’t always fill up there).
Household Misc – $236 We got toiletries and random household things. Mike spent $85 at Best Buy for something, too.
Clothing – $34 – I got a few things for Halloween costumes and a few regular things too.
Animals – $50 We bought some chicken feed and cat food.
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 – $52 We get funding through our homeschool charter that covers most everything for homeschooling our 4 oldest kiddos, but occasionally there is something we want that isn’t covered.
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 – $600 added. We normally add $400 per month, but we know there are some bigger bills coming up, so we put a little more in in August and September. In September we just spent $15 though. Current category balance is $2,687.
Car Maintenance – $0 added. We spent $0 in September. Current category balance is $3,299.
Christmas – $100 added. We spent $0 on Christmas 2021 in September. Current category balance is $779.
Life Insurance – $75 added. We add $75 per month here and then we have what we need for our life insurance premiums, which will be due in November. Current category balance is $825.
Birthdays & Gifts – $0 added. We spent $0 on gifts in September. Current category balance is $210.
Car Registration & Smog – $40 added. Mike had to renew his driver’s license which was $38. I decided that very occasional expense could come out of this category. Current category balance is $186.
Family Fun Fund – $925 added. We have a big trip coming up that involves all 8 of us flying on a plane (which is a first for most of the kids)! We spent $2,198 on airfare. Current category balance is $645.
Preparedness – $0 added. We spent $19 stocking up on AAA batteries to add to our emergency supplies. Current category balance is $240.
Home Projects- $0 added. We did some changing around of bedrooms for the kiddos which involved creating a “closet” for on of the bedrooms. Mike installed this organizer system (LINK THIS) for the girls’ room. We also bought some cute bins to go with it. We spent $193 total on the simple makeover. The category balance is currently $857.
Garden & Orchard- $0 added. We spent $0 in September. The category balance is currently $34.
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 2020. Mike has about $800 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. You can read about our mortgage-payoff goal here and see the numbers for our most recent re-fi here.
This month paid $1,331 of principal in our normal September mortgage payment. We also put $1,100 extra toward our mortgage principal.
Current mortgage balance: $227,295
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: 37.4%
Percent of 5-year time elapsed (35 mo): 58.3%.
We’re not on target now to pay off the mortgage in our goal of 5 years, but we’re a whole lot closer than if we had not set the goal in the first place. And we’re really not heartbroken about our progress. We’ve been making decisions together and intentionally, trying to balance how much focus we put on our financial goals with how much time and money we want to spend with our family as they’re growing up so quickly!
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.
How About You?
- How did your budget and/or debt repayment go in September?
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