If you’re here to see what real family finances look like you’ve come to the right place. As always, I’ll share what our family earned, spent, and saved last month in detail. But first…
We are super excited to do something new here at Six Figures Under!
For more than five years we’ve been sharing these monthly budget updates on the blog, along with more than 500 blog posts covering content about finance and frugality. About three years ago we published Frugal Fresh Start, an easy 28-day plan to kick start your journey towards financial health. Almost one year ago, we started a Youtube channel with video versions of monthly grocery hauls, screencast budget updates, and money-saving kitchen tips.
Next week we’ll be introducing two more big changes.
1– We’re starting live video! We’d love to have you join us on Tuesday, November 13 at 12 noon Pacific over on my Facebook Page.
Mike and I will be announcing our big goal for 2019… only we’re too excited to wait until 2019 to get started! We’ll also cover some of your frequently asked questions.
2– My husband, Mike (yes, Mr. SixFiguresUnder has a name!), will be joining me on Six Figures Under as a regular presence! He’s been around here and there but you’ll be seeing more of him in the future, which I’m really excited about! He’s amazing!
We hope to see you there next week! Now let’s look at October’s finances!
Our total income for October was $11,282. Since we live on last month’s income, this is money that we’ll spend in November.
Attorney Income (Day Job)– $6,837 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 $5,663 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)– $580 My husband has a part-time private law practice on the side, but the income from it (and when he is paid) varies from month to month.
My Income (Blog)– $3,865 Of this, I’m setting aside 25% for taxes ($966) and distributing $2,899 to the family checking account as my paycheck. I use and love my own Blog Finance Spreadsheets to keep track of the myriad sources of blog income and expenses. How does blogging actually make money? Back in 2014 I signed up for Elite Blog Academy to try to find out, and it was awesome!
Each month we budget down to zero using last month’s income. This has 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 October came from the income we earned in September. 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– $175 We get our electric bill at the beginning of the month for the electricity we used in the previous month. This one is extra low because it includes a once-a-year $40 “climate credit.”
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– $60 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 love our Internet bill! Not because we like bills, but because it means we have internet at home. When we bought the house, it had no access to fiber, cable, DSL, or fixed wireless Internet.
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– $18 We’ve been using Republic Wireless as our cell phone carrier for over four 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– $425 You can see what $310 of our grocery spending looked like in this post/video. In addition to that major monthly haul, we ordered pizza one night during the month, got bread, milk, and some awesome deals.
Gas– $471 Our gas spending is on the high side this month. I noticed that my gas gauge was going down really fast, which reminded me to take a look at the tire pressure. Sure enough one of my tires had really low pressure. After getting the pressure back up where it should be, we’re getting better mileage. But we still do a lot of driving. There’s no denying that!
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– $7 I picked up a pair of wrestling shoes at the thrift store that are the same as my son’s current wrestling shoes, but two sizes larger. At one-tenth the price of buying them new, it’s worth holding onto them for a year or so until they fit. I also got a nice pair of shoes for the one-year-old to wear in the next year.
Household– $346 In addition to normal household expenses, we got a new cordless phone to use with our Ooma line (our other one which was probably 15 years old stopped working). We also got a new printer. I’m pretty excited that it’s the printer/scanner/copier kind.
Fun– $161 We spent more than usual on fun this month. I guess it was extra fun! My husband and I went on a lunch date to a local restaurant, my oldest and I went on a frozen yogurt date (if you get my emails, then you heard all about it), and we celebrated Halloween in our themed family costumes.
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Halloween 2018 is in the books! And it was a good one. I think the state of the house is inversely related to the fun we had and the love we put into our costumes. In other word, the house is a complete disaster. If you saw my IG post yesterday, you know I love doing themed family costumes. This has been one of my favorite themes! I'm so glad the boys agreed to be the Tweedles. They had a blast adding some "bulk" to ther bodies. And, the Mad Hatter over there? He already towers over most people, but with that hat (which he constructed himself) he just under 8 feet tall! Hopefully in the next day or two we'll get the house put back together. Right now I'm washing costume pieces so they can be added to the costume bins in the attic. #funtimes #familycostumes #familycosume #aliceinwonderland #madhatter #whiterabbit #cheshirecat #tweedledee #queenofhearts #tweedledum #familyof7 #halloween2018 #halloween #diycostume #groupcostume #homemadecostumes #familyhalloweencostumes #familyfun #happyfamily #familytime #familypicture #everyoneslooking #andmostlysmiling #christmascard
Animals– $50 We got four 50-lb bags of chicken feed.
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– $158 We bought tickets for the school’s Halloween Carnival fundraiser. We also put our two older boys (7 and 9) in tennis lessons at one of the local park districts. I paid a $10 deposit for a homeschool field trip that’s coming up in the spring.
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 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– $0 We temporarily defunded this category when we were setting up our Airbnb rental.
Dental– $30 We didn’t spend anything this month. We have $263 in the dental sinking fund right now.
Medical– $100 We didn’t spend any of our medical funds in October. Our current balance for medical is $891. Our insurance is changing in January! I’m suuuper excited for the change! The premiums are lower, but we’ll have more out-of-pocket expenses.
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 $1,227.
Car Registration & Smog– $40 We currently have $344 in this fund. We’ll be using some of this in November!
Christmas– $100 We put in $100 this month and I spent $4. We currently have $840 in our Christmas fund.
Life Insurance– $70 Because we put aside $70 each month, we now have enough to pay the premiums due this month. This is one of the first sinking funds we started. It’s so nice to have the money set aside when the big annual bill comes.
Gifts/Birthdays– $40 This is our fund for birthday and other gifts. We spent $70 on supplies for a combined birthday party for our 7- and 9-year old boys. I also bought a baby shower gift for a friend. Current balance for gifts if $185.
Retirement– $658 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– $250 We have a road trip coming up over Thanksgiving, so we’re putting some money away for gas, lodging, and food along our way. Right now we’re sitting at $347.
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, so in October we didn’t add anything to our emergency fund.
In October 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, and we’ll have reached our 2018 goal.
At the end of October we are at $24,900, which is about 96% of our goal!
There you have it! Personal finance made public!
How About You?
- How did your budget and/or debt repayment go in October!?
- How is your progress on your financial goals for 2018?
- What questions or topics would you like us to cover in live videos?
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