Sort-of Frugal February: Report
We were a little distracted in February by our house saga, which involved getting a contract, applying for a mortgage, getting a bad appraisal, switching lenders, postponing closing, and paying for a second appraisal (which was better). Whew! I’m also describing it as only sort-of frugal because Mr. FP spent a lot on entertainment. We go to a concert together several times a year, and he goes alone a few other times. Well, it just worked out that in February, he bought three full sets of tickets (one for my birthday–Arlo Guthrie–and the other two for a couple of our favorite bands).
Even with that rather large layout, our total discretionary spending was quite a bit lower than it usually is. If you’re curious, here’s the breakdown:
Earnest money: $3000
Inspections and appraisals: $1631.50
Goodwill bin for Legos: $3.22
Total moving-related: $4634.72
Groceries: $479.41. I have not see our fridge and freezer so empty since we moved in. Which is good, ’cause we’re moving out this weekend!
Restaurants: $61.05 (Why not $0? Mr. FP took a couple of day trips and stopped for meals. And one time he had a bad cold on a Saturday when I worked; he showed movies and ordered half-price Papa John’s for himself and the boys.)
Total food: $540.46
Entertainment: $339.14 (3 sets of concert tickets plus $26 of iTunes and $5 of Netflix)
Evening babysitting: $0!
Kids’ activities: $20 (To be refunded. Poor LB can’t do obstacle course class with his “bo-ken” leg.)
Bus and train ticket books: $40 (not all used)
Ting mobile phone service: $43.88
Bike supplies: $6.45 (inner tube to replace shredded one)
Gift (nephew’s b-day): $15
Wallet for Mr. FP: $32.16
Reimbursable parking: $12
Total other: $521
Total minus daycare and house expenses: $1369.48
Since my general non-housing, non-daycare monthly spending goal is $1750 AND we weren’t really going flat-out this month, I consider this a win. I think we developed some good habits, like doing a better job of eating up existing food before buying more, eating our cheaper meals more often, making substitutions to extend the time between grocery trips, buying milk in gallons instead of half-gallons (Mr. FP really, really likes the paper cartons, but, as we’re looking closer at our finances, has come to admit that this is not worth $6-8 a month), and just generally refining the household routine. I’m making thicker yogurt, for instance, which means a better Greek yogurt yield.
Most importantly, we have now started tracking all our purchases as they are made. Let’s face it, it’s already March 12 and I’m just now finishing our spending analysis for February. An end-of-the-month review was not really helping us calibrate during the month. Now, we enter everything immediately and see the new total. No doubt we will continue to refine the system (currently a Google Sheet, as Mr. FP wanted control over it), but at least there IS a system now. I just finished reading Your Money or Your Life (Mr. FP read the summary at the end) and, despite our general level of distraction and discombobulation, we’re slowly implementing some of its ideas. Like to keep track of every penny, both coming and going.
I’d like to try this experiment again when we’re settled in our house, perhaps in the fall, and see if we can hit a lower number. Friends, what’s your low-spending record?