November 2016 Budget Review

As a self-proclaimed “minimalist” I’ve strived to stay focused on the elements of life that I value most – my health, my relationships, and personal growth. I have been in this process of changing my relationship with possessions (for the better), but I overestimated how far along I had developed in devaluing stuff. Stuff does not define who I am and what I am capable of, yet I still sometimes feel limited when I don’t have the “right” stuff.

In the last week of October, my laptop suddenly died. The battery had gone to zero percent so I plugged it in to charge. But after the charge was completed, it just wouldn’t turn on. I immediately made an appointment to visit the Genius Bar at the Apple Store that evening. After a quick review, the Apple staff determined it was a dead motherboard. But because my laptop is older and the parts are no longer being manufactered, they couldn’t send it in to be fixed. In the moment, I was disappointed, but not overly. We were about to be receiving a lot of guests over the next two weeks, and I felt it was more important for me to be focusing on that than mourning the loss of my MacBook Air. I told myself, “you’re a minimalist! You don’t value things! You don’t need your own fancy lap top to write for your blog or complete the usual computer-associated tasks. You have a smartphone, an iPad, and access to a laptop AND a desktop computer. You can go MONTHS without your own computer and not even flinch.”

Welp, it’s been over a month since my lap top died and I am FINALLY sitting down to write a blog post on my husband’s lap top. And the process of doing so has been so awkward and challenging. I am a creature of habit, so it has taken me time to get use to a new keyboard, screen, and programs. But it feels like more than a learning curve. I just don’t feel comfortable using this device, because it’s not MINE. It doesn’t have my photos, music, programs, documents, it doesn’t have the feel I was used to for 5 years. Frankly, I feel a bit ridiculous for prattling on about my disdain for basically not getting to use my own computer. It’s pretty ridiculous. But this is how I realized that I need to spend a bit more time working on my flexibility. I need to be able to roll with the punches. Life sends you curve balls, and when it does, you have to make lemonade of those curveballs. Right? That’s the saying? I don’t think that’s right….

I guess the point, I’m trying to make is, I’m here, I’m doing this November budget review….sorry October I guess we’ll never know what happened with your budget….and I’m still a minimalist, but just one who really likes her Apple products. And after hanging on to my broken lap top for a month, I finally took it to Mac Resource, who CAN fix it, but I’m going to have to hunt down some parts from a 3rd party as my lap top is now “vintage”. But in the meantime, let’s dig into this budget:

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November 2016 Budget Review

Essentials (61.4% of income)
In a month that we were already posed to go over budget in some areas of this category, we also had an unexpected medical bill. I received a call from a collections company for services rendered when the babies were born….that’s right, 26 months later. And the kicker is, I had called the medical group about the bill in October 2014 because I received a bill for services for James, but nothing for Emma. After confirming on three different occasions over the course of two months that nothing further was owed to James’, Emma’s, and my social security number, I moved on. But, lo and behold, there was a bill. I paid it, begrudgingly, and am now sending in a formal complaint to the BBB. Beyond this unexpected bill, we had a few other smaller medical expenses from the kids having croup earlier in the month. And surprisingly, we were just $25 over the grocery budget, even with the added expenses from Thanksgiving dinner and having overnight guests for 11 days out of the month.

Lifestyle (26.7% of income)
This was definitely an expense month in terms of lifestyle purchases. We bought Ryan a new iPhone 7 which in effect doubled our lifestyle costs for the month. We also spent close to $300 on prepared foods (coffee shops, restaurants, fast food) and $200 on Christmas decorations (tree, wreath, lights, stockings). And I did a little secondhand shopping and found 4 tops and 1 dress for $78. There were also the usual reoccurring lifestyle expenses – cable TV, digital media subscriptions, Pure Barre membership, Beautycounter monthly order, and a couple books for Ryan and the kids.

Goals (11.9% of income)
We decided to take a bit from short term savings goals to pay for the overdue medical bill and Ryan’s new phone. But beyond that, we put the usual amounts into short and long term savings accounts. In November, we reached our short terms savings goal of a large emergency fund; I’m feeling so grateful that we have gotten to this point.

Next Month’s Projections
We’ll have a couple one-time expenses in December that have the potential to make the month pricey. One of those expenses will not be Christmas gifts, a topic I’ll be exploring a little later on the blog. But we will be spending some money to do our first and second DIY home projects – a fireplace mantle and painting the fireplace room. Pending the decision, we’ll either be dropping close to $600 to get fix my laptop or $1600+ to buy a new laptop. We are undecided on this decision so any advice y’all have would be greatly appreciated.

Wishing you all a frugal and festive December! Thanks for reading!

xoxo Lauren

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9 thoughts on “November 2016 Budget Review

  1. Sorry to hear about your laptop. My home laptop is also “vintage” but still functioning (knock-on-wood). My husband took it to a shop to see about upgrading something on it, and they said we should just buy a new one… So… it came home, not updated and I have been using it since… I guess I’ll start saving up now for the inevitable.

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  2. Thanks for writing! I found your post interesting. I like how you break down your expenses–I’ve not seen it done like this before (lifestyle, essentials, etc). I am in the market for a smart phone (I held onto my flip phone as long as I could, though I know I could buy a new flip phone), and I’m kind of terrified. I just went to one store–my provider’s and all the phones were $600+. I knew some were that expensive, but I thought some would be significantly cheaper. If you purchased one for less, could you tell me your secret? –Jaye

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