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:

Moving-related expenses

Earnest money: $3000

Inspections and appraisals: $1631.50

Goodwill bin for Legos: $3.22

Total moving-related: $4634.72

Daycare: $705

Food

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!

Other

Postage: $1.61

Kids’ activities: $20 (To be refunded. Poor LB can’t do obstacle course class with his “bo-ken” leg.)

YMCA: $70

Gas/electric: $95.54

Internet: $44.83

Charity: $5

Bus and train ticket books: $40 (not all used)

Gas: $75.41

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

Sports: $60

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?

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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

4 responses to “Sort-of Frugal February: Report”

  1. David says :

    Our spending has been quite high lately. I’m on a new spreadsheet system, only have a few months data in YNAB and on our Wall Chart, but in the past I am pretty sure we’ve had non-debt spending of $1,000, maybe slightly less. Lately we have been spending far over $2,000, with some months over $3,000, but a lot of that is front-loading food (CSA, bulk purchases) so the average should revert back to historical mean, which is about $1300 non-debt.

    How are y’all handling the transition to having you working? Is it a short term thing or are you planning to work until FI?

    • frugalparagon says :

      We’re managing, thanks for asking! It’s a bit tough on Mr. FP when he has to have solo charge of the kids after a long day or week at work (two nights a week and every other Saturday), but I try to make it easier by leaving a reasonably clean house and dinner in the slow cooker. (Not that I did that today. House is full of boxes and no cooked food. I did his breakfast cereal :-). )

      Probably working until FI at least. If I were FI, I would still do my job. But probably not for as many hours awkwardly scheduled hours! Honestly, I’m not making that much money after paying for daycare, but for me, working part-time is the sweet spot. It still gives me time to do a lot at home, but also some kid-free time and intellectual stimulation.

      I’m impressed by your thousand-dollar month! And I’ll be curious to hear about how your front-loading of food shakes out.

  2. The DJ says :

    My husband and I just finished reading Your Money or Your Life as well. We especially liked the concept of the wall chart – I’ve asked him to create an electronic one to track our progress against. Our spending has been high so far this year, we had some carry over expenses from my pregnancy and delivery from December. Hoping the next quarter looks better! My goal for the year is to hit monthly spending of $3500 (including mortgage) and keep it steady.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Google Drive will make a chart for you! I’m hoping to start one soon–Mr. FP is still crunching our numbers :-). You just put numbers in different columns and tell it you want a chart.

      Congrats on still-pretty-new-baby! Sorry it was pricey. Mine were “free” except that both times, we upgraded to the top-of-the-line insurance, which was three hundred dollars more a month but had no L&D copays. (Which was nice, because it didn’t go as planned and I wasn’t lying there wondering how much the epidural/Pitocin/c-section/etc. were going to cost!) Our second child was unplanned, but I happened to find out I was pregnant during open enrollment!

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