You know how sometimes you think something is going to be really time consuming and difficult, so you put it off. And then you finally do it, and it was ridiculously quick and easy. That was this budget review. My Target REDcard (along with every other cardholder) has synced up on Mint for almost a month now. Since the majority of my large, split purchases occur at SuperTarget, I thought it would take FOREVER to manually add everything together. Nope, it was like a five minute process. Moral of the story – procrastination is my biggest downfall.
At the same time, I was really excited to sit down with my big Yeti tumbler of coffee and go through the expenses for December. These past short months have provided great financial motivation because (1) my readers are always reminding me of how well we are doing in relation to saving and (2) publically announcing all of our luxury expenses reminds me of how much we can continue to cut back on. I’ve probably said this before, but nothing gives me an answer to a question quicker than starting to post it on social media. Before I hit send on the publish button, my last readthrough prompts me to delete a whole bunch of nonsense. At the same time, I always have this feeling that all the advice I’m providing or discussions I’m presenting are all just common sense. “Save money” – duh. “Keep a detailed budget” – duh. “Don’t exceed your budget limits” – duh. Yet, we all (myself included) need to hear and see these rules over and over again. It’s the same reason I listen to Dave Ramsey’s podcast while I clean. Consistantly reminding ourselves of our goals and how to get there are how we continue to better ourselves. Reading books with the same advice over and over again is not a waste of time if it keeps you from straying from that advice. I know I shoudn’t blow our whole lifestyle budget on skincare products, yet I am constantly struggling to not press ‘place order’ when I see something new and pretty. And especially struggle when my skincare goes bonkers, and I want to just bombard it wit new miracle products. So instead I keep coming back to this blog and reminding myself why I obstain from all the unnecessary. I remind myself when I finish a monthly review with all green actuals. I remind myself when I publish advice that I know I am following and getting real results. I remind myself when you, my amazing readers, message me about your financial journeys. Just seeing the page views continue to grow each day, provides me with so much motivation to only continue writing for y’all, but to continue meeting and exceeding my financial goals.
Wow, look what happens when I finally stop procrastinating. And whole bunch of self -actualization and a super long paragraph. I think y’all deserve to get down the numbers at this point 🙂
December 2015 Budget Review
Essentials (42% of budgetted 50%)
This doesn’t look like a huge difference from last month’s 47%, but we spent $500 less on groceries this month versus last month! There were a couple items in the grocery expenses that we could have done without (like $40 worth of travel nutrition shakes & food packets for the babies), but otherwise I felt our challenge to cut down on groceries was a success! Utilities were a little higher this month as well, but we also got a dividend applied towards the auto insurance so it all balanced out in the end. An oil change plus an extra tank of gas during the drive to Missouri added to our essential expenses as well.
Lifestyle (13% of budgeted 30%)
Holy moly we did well in this category this month! As I mentioned in my last post, we are probably the only family in the U.S. that had our cheapest month of the year in December! It definitely helped that some gifts were bought in November, but I did have to add some additional gift purchases plus USPS shipping costs mid-month. Our entire Christmas related purchases this year totaled only $344.35. The majority of the other luxury purchases for December were associated with me, proving once again, that I am my biggest challenge when it comes to saving money. A couple fast food trips, a new watch band, more of the most amazing face oil (bought at a DEEP discount!), vitamins, and a subscription to Apple Music are all of my lifestyle purchases for the month. A renewed Amazon Prime membership, the monthly Netflix subscription, snowsuits & boots for the kids, and some truck parts round out all of our household’s luxury purchases for the month. Seeing all of November’s luxury purchases listed out made me feel a little guilty, but this month I don’t see one expense that was not worthwhile. Except maybe the McDonald’s.
Goals (45% of budgeted 20%)
Keeping our essentials and luxury purchases on the low side allowed us to really finish out the year on a high note. The biggest accomplishment within the goals category was when my husband and I decided to take a chunk of our house downpayment fund to pay off the auto loan on the Jeep. In my last budget review I talked about I was struggling with the fact that I wanted to pay off the loan, but we didn’t want to push out the timeline to get into a home. In the end, my husband and I decided to just go all in and eliminate our last bit of debt. Eliminating that small monthly payment has made a huge difference already in how focused we can be in one month knowing that all our net income can go towards saving for a home.
January 2016 Budget Projections
With the auto loan gone, retirement funds set up, and the kid’s college funds started, all of the focus is on saving for a home. A conservative estimate of how long is will take us to have enough for 20% down plus closing costs is another 28 months. [Insert photo of me crying here] But I am not going to let is take that long. Seeing that timeline of 28 months in writing is all the motivation I need to really up the anty on our savings contributions. Therefore, for 2016, I am challenging our family to a much more stringent budget.
We will put at least 45% of our income towards our Goals each month allowing for 45% to go towards Essentials and the last 10% to go towards Lifestyle expenses.
I can already see this being a tough challenge for January as we have to replace the windshield on the truck to allow my husband to start driving it again. I honestly can’t decide if this is an Essentials expense because it’s required to operate the vehicle or a Lifestyle expense because the truck is my husband’s hobby, and his car serves as his primary mode of transportation. Either way it has the potential to make it difficult to meet our Goal as we don’t have any wiggle room in the rest of the budget.