November 2015 Budget Review

I have really been loving fall in Alabama. The weather has been gorgeous with very little humidity and quite a few sunny days. It’s winter in Alabama, that I’m not so sure about. It has been raining non-stop since Saturday. That’s four full days of rain. I’ve been waiting for flooding and an ark to float by, but this clay does a pretty good job of soaking it all up. Not to say there aren’t some areas of Huntsville/Madison that could flood. Ryan and I were perusing the realtor sides, you know, typical Saturday night stuff for twenty-somethings, when we found this house for sale at a STEAL in a neighborhood we love.

A 70’s ranch-style with 2000 sq ft just begging for a reno on .9 acres. Walking distance to the middle school, high school, the best hiking trail in Madison, the farmer’s market, and even Starbucks, if you cut through a shopping center. And only $170,000. We drove by the house a couple times on Sunday, noticing that it was vacant and also up for rent. The owner’s are probably pretty desperate to get rid of it. We started looking into the cost of get out of our lease early, discussing along the way what types of renovations we want to do to in the interior, where we would put in a fence outside, where we could built a detached garage. Then we pulled up the PDF for the flood plains in Madison, just to check. The house is situated at the bottom of Rainbow Mountain, all the roads built specifically to follow the areas where water would naturally run down the mountain. Except for at the corner of Lynbrook Blvd and Concord Dr where the water would flood an acre-sized lot. The lot where our realistic dream home was located. If we bought that home, we would be required to get flood insurance priced at around $1700/year. And we would have to worry about our home being washed away. And we have a heck of a time when we decide to sell it. No thanks. So the home search continues.

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One of the reasons why I am really enjoying these monthly reviews is because it provides me some time to give our financials goals my undivided attention. Normally when I’m reviewing and updating my budget, I’m on my cell phone and I’m distracted by something the babies are doing. But when I write out these posts, it forces me to sit down and really look closely at the numbers. I don’t feel a lot of responsibility when it’s just a conversation between myself and my husband. But when I’m sharing this information with my readers, I want to make sure I’m thorough and that I’m providing some sort of lesson. I don’t want to waste your time when you sit down to read my posts, and in turn I end up providing myself with some valuable lessons as well. So thank you all for your motivation, and without further ado, here’s how we did last month.

November 2015 Budget Review

Essentials (47% of budgetted 50%)

These expenses were not too bad for the month, besides groceries. Groceries, as usual, were through the roof. We spent over $1,100 on actual grocery items, which is about double what the average family of four spends each month. We continually let this category get out of control, and I’m kind of at loss as to how to better stick to our monthly food budget. I’m really going to have to dig deep to figure out what we should be cutting back on. If you have similar grocery purchases, like all gluten-free and lots of organic, I would love to hear what your monthly grocery bill is. Other essential expenses were at or below what we normally spend. Our utilities were $80 this month! So much better than Gainesville utility costs. Vehicle costs were low this month as well, and insurance costs stayed the same.

Lifestyle (27% of budgeted 30%)

November was not a very frugal month when it came to lifestyle expenses. We spent a lot on Ryan’s birthday gifts aka parts for the truck. We bought shelving units for our books and DVDs which has been in boxes and/or stacks on the ground for years. I took advantage of a Sephora sale by purchasing a year’s supply of face cleanser and deodorant. Ryan bought some novels. We bought end tables for the living room because lamps don’t balance well on cardboard boxes. I bought a new cell phone case because mine was cracking/letting in dirt. We took care of all of our holiday gift purchases. I splurged on an extremely expensive face oil. As much as I know all of these purchases will be useful and some were seriously needed (like the shelves and end tables), it doesn’t make it easier to see all of these expenses added up and know they would look a lot nicer in our savings.

Goals (26% of budgeted 20%)

Goals were made up of the usual automatic transfers – the 401k, the IRA,  the newly opened HSA, all of my Beautycounter income, short-term savings, and the Jeep payments. I’ve been struggling a little bit lately with the fact that I want to pay off the Jeep completely. We have more than an enough in short-term savings to close out the loan, but we would no longer be on track to have enough for a 10% downpayment + closing costs in spring. While the goal has been to save 20% down for a home, we would like to have the freedom to have at least 10% in the event that a really, really good deal comes along on a realistic home. Regardless of this fact, when you run the numbers, it financially makes sense to keep the Jeep payment as the loan has a pretty low balance and low interest rate. If we were to pay off the Jeep now and continue saving at our current rate, we would spent MORE money over time on our home loan than if we were to continue making payments through the end of the loan. In my gut, it just doesn’t make sense to keep this debt when we have the savings to pay it off, but our mortgage rate will be higher than our auto loan rate. And it will be on a much, much larger balance. Has anyone else been in a similar situation, where it made sense to hang on to a small amount of debt? I would love to go into the home buying process with no debt, but I can’t seem to justify the extra $8,000 it would cost us over time.

December 2015 Budget Projections

Even with the holiday, I am not expecting our expenses to be too much higher than usual. We will be visiting family in Missouri the last week of December, so that’s basically an entire week that we will only be buying groceries for the trip. But we’ll end up spending an extra $140 on fuel so that will balance out the lower grocery costs. Holiday gift expenses will mainly consist of the few items I have to mail out. Note – I realized this AFTER making all my gift purchases, but it would have been so much more cost effective to ship items purchased online DIRECTLY to the recipient. Lesson learned on that one, especially since so many businesses are offering free shipping right now. I am going in for an oil change this weekend, and there is the chance that I will also end up getting new tires on the Jeep. The tread is still good, but they are the factory tires from 2011, and I’m a little nervous about driving over 1200 miles in snow with aging tires. And if this rain keeps up, I might invest in some rain boots and a water-resistant jacket if I have aspirations of going outside ever again.

Did your November expenses get a little out of hand thanks to Turkey Day and Black Friday sales, too? I would love to hear from you. I also have SEVEN blog posts already in the works for December…much better than my ONE post in November…smh. Thanks for reading!

xoxo Lauren

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5 thoughts on “November 2015 Budget Review

  1. Love your posts Lauren!! The struggle you’re having with wanting to pay down your jeep and stay on track for your down payment… Why not slash your grocery budget in half and put that towards your jeep? $1,100 is pretty high! We cut our grocery/household items budget by making our own laundry detergent and switching completely cut out paper towels. We also buy meat packages in bulk for the local meat market, which normally lasts about 3 weeks. So every 2 weeks we only budget for fresh produce, eggs, milk, etc. That is probably the easiest category to cut! 🙂

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    • These are all really fantastic suggestions! I use old cloth wipes from the spit up days for cleaning, but I think a good majority of our grocery bill is due to all the organic and gluten-free purchases. I KNOW we can do better since we spent a lot less when we lived in Florida, and no one starved.

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  2. Seems like you did pretty well in November. You expenses came in under budget and you put more towards your goal than anticipated! I can totally relate to the grocery budget though. We don’t always do organic, but we try for local, which means small farm and more expensive most of the time. And I eat gluten free, so we have to deal with that extra expense too. The key (though I am not one to preach because I haven’t exactly been successful) is to find the cheaper alternatives rather than going with convenience. And to get creative and adventurous. It’s probably tough with small children because they tend to not be as receptive to new foods, but that’s what I want to try in the next while.

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  3. You’re not being preachy at all, I totally welcome suggestions and criticisms! It’s actually my husband that is the picky one, and not so much the babies. We’re pretty good about buying items that are cheaper, but require more prep time. We do purchase frozen veggies because they’re cheaper and canned beans because I can’t remember to soak the beans overnight to save my life. I think a lot of the extra expenses comes from the impulse buys. We have 2 types of grocery runs – normal meal ingredients and “eat my feelings” snacks & desserts. If we can stop buying the secondary category, I think I’ll be more satisfied with that expense category.

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  4. Pingback: December 2015 Budget Review | Lauren, Etc.

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