Tag Archive | monthly spending

June: In Which I Make Short Work of My Third Paycheck

Since I’m paid every two weeks, June was a three-paycheck month for me. Which works out nicely, because it was also the month my car insurance payment was due. Since I knew they would coincide, I didn’t worry about saving up to pay my whole car insurance. They will align again in December and I will reevaluate then. Anyway, here’s how it broke down for June.

Income

Library take-home pay: $2546.12

Money that I am not sure why Amazon sent me: $11.05

Cash: $20

Interest: $6.74

Trivia income: $70

Travel money: $50

Reconciliation adjustment: $5.95 (my record keeping, it is imperfect)

Support: $555

Total income: $3265.08

Expenses

Rent and included utilities: $1085.45

Replacement bowl for Cuisinart, secondhand: $21

ATM fees: $2.50 (reimbursable)

Laundry: $40

Renter’s insurance installment: $33.50

Electric: $17.43 (My AC doesn’t work very well anyway, so I just… sweat)

Ting: $26.75

Internet: $9.95

Groceries: $277.16

Wine: $6.47

Gas: $47.82

Car insurance: $451 (6 months of full coverage on my Fit)

Kids allowance and miscellaneous: $50.14

Asthma medicine: $184.01 (Every time a pharmacy clerk rings this up for me, they visibly recoil when they see the price. Fortunately, it lasts three or four months.)

Babysitter: $45

Restaurants: $16.30

Amazon music: $4.30

Coffee shops: $19.35

Gifts and miscellaneous shopping, including some workout equipment: $91.38

Travel: $150.16 (the rest of my Vegas trip from last month)

Charitable donation: $3.20

Total expenses: $2577.87

Analysis

Well, I still had a good bit of that third paycheck left over. Under $2600 for the month in which I paid my car insurance seems pretty fabulous, spending-wise.

July is already shaping up to be much spendier–I have been buying more entertainment than usual–but I’m happy with how June turned out! Aside from continuing to improve my wardrobe, I’m saving up for when I can hopefully move and will need some new furniture. (Being as I currently have a combined couch/bed situation, and the goal of moving would be to have my own room, logically I would need to purchase either a bed or a couch.)

In exciting budget and parenting news, Little Brother, who turned 5 in May, no longer sleeps in Pull-Ups! That will help my grocery bill. I have eleventy billion left over, which I have donated to the XFP and his wife for the younger stepbrothers. Having my kids finally totally potty trained makes me very sympathetic to those whose children are not.

Better Late Than Never: May Spending

So… it’s June 21. And I never totaled up my May spending. I almost didn’t at all, but I’m glad I took the time–while everything gets added up by YNAB, I learn a lot about myself and my habits from typing it all out. So here’s May.

Library take-home pay: $1795.50

Returning things to Costco: $82.97

Subbing take-home pay: $44.05

Interest income: $6.48

Trivia income: $35

Ebates: $1.95

Support: $575

Total income: $2540.95

ATM fees (reimbursable): $.50

Rent and included utilities: $1079.02

Home supplies: $83.32 (mostly a vacuum cleaner, plus odds and ends)

Laundry: $40

Electricity: $16.18

Ting: $31.56

Internet: $9.95

Groceries: $212.24 (I was out of town for a few days and also had a gift card)

Wine: $6.47

Gas: $50.35

Parking ticket: $50 (Forgot to read the damn street sweeping sign. This happens to me at least once a summer. I think of it as a sort of urban road maintenance tax.)

Parking: $6 (reimbursable)

Children’s allowance and ice cream: $14.62

Restaurants: $30.49

Amazon music: $4.30

Coffee shops, burrito runs at work, etc.: $18.52

Clothes for me: $78.47

Fabric and sewing notions: $83.73. Because patterns were on sale and I may have gotten carried away at Joann.

Gifts: $73.81 (There was a birthday)

Miscellaneous shopping and spending, including a haircut and some ebooks: $108.50

Travel: $325.87 (for Vegas trip; there was another hundred-ish in June)

Donations: $5

Cat food: $24.75

Total Expenses: $2352.65

Surplus: $188.30

Analysis

Well, if you’ve ever read one of my spending reports before, you know it always starts out, “I need a full-time job.” But somehow I keep managing. I enjoy some luxuries, even, thanks to careful money management and the generosity of family and good friends. (I got my eyebrows professionally waxed, for instance. That Vegas trip? Heavily subsidized. Thanks, Mom! And I received some lovely gift cards as a Mother’s Day present, which I spent on things like non-pre-owned sheets for my bed, new cutting boards, and Frappucinos.)

Goal: Secure more hours before October so I can comfortably afford a second bedroom.

How was your May?

April 2017 Spending: Ouch

Well, I had some nasty surprises in April. Here’s how it breaks down.

Income

Library take-home pay: $1462.92 (Why so low? I upped my HSA contributions, and the boys’ spring break hurt my earnings)

Costco return: $10.76

Substitute teaching take-home pay: $44.06

Interest: $5.95

Support: $743

Total Income: $2266.69

Expenses

Rent plus included utilities: $1085.31

Home supplies: $10

Laundry: $40

Speeding ticket: $305 (So frustrated with self! I was driving an unfamiliar road and didn’t see the school zone sign)

XCel: $19.31

Ting: $24.54

Comcast: $9.95

Groceries: $305.91

Wine: $12.94

Auto maintenance: $153.31 (When I went to have my summer tires put back on, one of them turned out to be broken and had to be replaced. It was new enough they said I could just do the one.)

Gas: $44.91

Parking (reimbursable): $11

Kids, misc. (allowance, field trips, ice cream): $27.62

Kids, clothes and shoes: $82.10 (2 pairs new sneakers, 1 pair Batman PJs with cape)

Restaurants: $101.70 (Yowza! My boyfriend had a birthday and a cousin visited from out of town in the same month.)

Coffee shops and snacks: $22.88 (I promise there were a lot of times I wanted it and didn’t get it.)

Tickets to special Viking exhibit at museum: $20.85

Work clothes and shoes for me: $271.40 (Because if I want to be taken seriously, probably should not wear hiking shoes to work, right?)

Some things from Target: $20.12

Cat litter: $14

Total Expenses: $2577.83

Income minus expenses: -$311.14

Analysis

Eh, I can live with it. By now, I’ve gotten used to my low-income, low-expenses balancing act tipping sometimes into the black and sometimes the red. It’s more often black, so I’ll live. I had enough money to cover the shortage without dipping into my emergency fund. And I still have money set aside for various projects (like an upcoming trip and taking the cat to the vet).

Possibly, however, I sobbed when I got the speeding ticket. There is a definite mismatch between how long it takes me to save $305 and how long it took me to lose it! At least I had the money. I blew my nose, mailed a check, and lived to fight another day.

March Spending: Modest Progress

Income

Library take-home pay: $1771.47

Interest: $3.02

Trivia income: $35

Support: $786

Refund from Children’s Hospital: $466.72

Colorado tax refund: $481

Shopping return: $74.27

Total income: $3617.48

Spending

ATM fees: $2.50 (reimbursable)

Rent: $1072.79

Household items: $20.81

Laundry: $40

Renter’s insurance (quarterly): $33.50

XCel (electric): $18.47

Ting: $24.52

Comcast: $9.95

Groceries: $320.03

Wine: $6.47

Oil change plus car wash: $82.44 (Evidently my car runs on synthetic oil and this is very expensive)

Gas: $46.12

Parking: $3

Miscellaneous kids (allowances plus a field trip): $40

Occasional after-school care: $68

Adult health spending: $189.44 (asthma medicine–OUCH)

Restaurants: $28.46

Coffee and donuts: $42.36

Adult clothes and sewing notions for making adult clothes: $124.20

Haircut, hiking poles, something from Target, and other miscellany: $147.59

Child care punch card at the gym: $15

Cat supplies: $27.45

Total spending: $2363.10

Analysis

This was another windfall month, and I both bolstered some savings/spending categories (setting aside money to refresh work wardrobe, for instance) and set aside some money for investing. I would like to point out that my spending, though not particularly restrained, was under my “regular” income.

Groceries continue to get away from me. I drank only one bottle of wine all month but apparently spent an unreasonable amount of money on coffee and donuts.

My paychecks have dipped a little because I have more money going into my HSA, which I am trying to grow as an investment vehicle but which doubles as an emergency fund.

So, not an exciting month, but everything on track. I still need a better-paying job. While I see places I can trim a little, let’s be honest: My spending is killer low. The income side is where the improvement is needed. Especially as I would like to be less dependent on support from the XFP.

How was your March?

February 2017 Spending: In the Black

In January, I found out that I qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit and would be getting a sizable tax refund. Now, most of that money is intended for saving, and I’ll write a separate blog post about that. But I did think, well, I’m getting a good amount of money back, I can loosen the purse strings just a touch. And I bought a few things I’d been wanting for a long time.

The great thing is, I have been getting so many hours at the library, I am in the black even without touching that windfall. The other great news, money-wise, is that our CICP (Colorado Indigent Care Program) came through. I am getting refunds for a lot of the money I paid for Big Brother’s November ER visit and won’t have to make any more payments. Instead of owing about $2200, our bill became $70.

We were back at the ER in February getting Little Brother’s forehead stitched up, but no big deal–again, we will owe just $70, if I’m not mistaken.

With no further ado, here’s how February looks

Income

Returning things to Costco: $69.75

Library take-home pay: $2187.22

Subbing take-home pay: $44.06

Interest: 61 cents

Trivia writing: $95

Gift and travel money from Grandma FP: $125

Child and spousal support: $767

Medical reimbursement: $156.38 (more on this below)

Non-windfall income: $3443.01

Expenses

Rent and included utilities: $1084.08

Household oddments: $9.54

Laundry: $40

Stop-payment check fee: $35 (my rental office lost my check and will take this off of next month)

YNAB renewal: $45

Electric: $13.63

Ting: $25.52

Comcast: $9.95

Groceries: $456.40 (Holy smokes! What happened here?!)

Car wash: $10

Gas: $42.66

Parking: $21

Kid allowance: $18

Walkie-talkie batteries: $4

Boy clothes: $91.38

Children’s museum membership: $117.25

After-school babysitting: $88

Kid health: $160.86 (about $125 of this has since been reimbursed)

Adult health: $38.87 (meds and a dentist copay)

Coffee shops and snacks: $30.98

Restaurants: $28.63

Shoes and underwear: $293.81 (When I got my tax refund, I figured I could replace all 3 worn-out pairs of exercise shoes and stop wearing hand-me-down underwear.)

Year subscription to Washington Post online: $99 (I’ve been stealing their articles for like 10 years. Journalism costs money.)

Something from Target: $14.04

A non-leaking, non-disgusting travel mug: $2 (plus reward points)

Southwest credit card fee for a bunch of bonus miles: $99

Total spending: $2907.70

Analysis

I can’t count on always getting so many hours–I still need a full-time job. And over the summer, I will probably either have child care costs or way less income, so I need to be prepared for a few lean months.

But I feel great about February. I earned enough money. I spent some money on things that are important to me. I came out ahead, and I used a windfall to bolster my savings.

January 2017: Credit Card Float

I participated in an Uber Frugal Month Challenge this month, but my normal spending is so low, it made little difference. Actually I had a lot of nonrecurring expenses and my spending was, for me, wildly high.

In fact, according to YNAB, I am now entirely out of money and then some. I don’t mean that I spent more than I made. I mean I spent more than I have.

I only know this because YNAB told me. See, I still have lots of money in my checking account. I just don’t have enough to simultaneously pay all my credit cards down to 0. I am reasonably optimistic that I will be able to pay them by the end of the month; if not, I will carry a balance on my lowest-rate card.

What happened? Well, I paid off my lawyer. They sent a bill for $4400. I said, “Didn’t you say there was a discount if I paid in full?” They said, “Do you have three thousand? We take Visa and Mastercard.” I could carry that bill on my MasterCard for a long time before the eleven-point-something-percent interest would come anywhere near the $1400 discount, but I do not expect to carry it long at all.

My car also cost me more than usual this month. Read on for the full breakdown.

Income

FSA reimbursement: $240

Wages: $1224.92 (Low because of not picking up extra hours around the holidays)

Support: $748.87

Interest: 78¢

Cash gift: $20

Trivia earnings: $70

Money I raided from my HSA: $1203.91 (I submitted medical bills that I had long since paid out of pocket to access funds to pay my lawyer with)

Total income: $3508.48

Expenses

Rent and included utilities: $1070.77

Laundry: $40

XCel (electric): $25.41

Ting: $26.75

Internet: $9.95

ATM fees: $6.99 (reimbursed by my credit union next month)

Legal bill, blog hosting, a few other things: $3048.50

Groceries: $360.85 (OUCH! But includes $55 Costco renewal.)

Auto maintenance: $96.87 (I now own a charger capable of starting a car without another car. Y’know, in case your kids leave the dome light on and your battery runs dead and you are blocked in by other cars and have to walk to AutoZone in the snow to buy something to solve this problem.)

Gas: $44.15

Annual vehicle tax/registration: $145.64

Parking: $1

Boys’ allowance: $5.46 (I appear to have shorted them)

Boys’ clothes: $12 (winter gloves for Big Brother)

Daycare: $247 (I had to buy a daycare package to use up FSA dollars)

Boys’ health and dental: $168.61 (still paying off Big Brother’s tongue)

Restaurants: $33.46 (includes 1 special occasion lunch and Big Brother’s birthday dinner at Chipotle)

Coffee shops and snacks: $27.19 (OK, OK, maybe not uber-frugal, but includes some lovely social outings)

Frippery: $18.45

Clothes for me: $67.51 (needed black pants to wear for subbing and a thing to keep my ears warm)

Kindle book not available at library: $3.22

Birthday presents for Big Brother: $30.99 (also used credit card points)

Used cell phone and accessories: $135.16 (Yes, I just repaired the old one, and it broke again, and sometimes that’s how it goes. Got a Galaxy S5 from Craigslist for $110.)

Travel: $136.62 (Includes ticket to Las Vegas for May and Lyft home from airport)

Total Spending: $5772.26

Shortfall: $2262.78

Analysis

Well, of course that sucks. No one likes to come up that short. But let’s look on the bright side: I was able to pay a three thousand dollar bill almost completely out of savings. Yes, I am now quite tapped out and have exhausted resources that I can’t use again this year (like my HSA), but how many people can’t cover that kind of bill at all? Because I had money from last month budgeted for the legal bill, the actual shortfall was $250.08. That’s how much more I spent than my liquid resources.

Other reasons for optimism: I have been working like a crazy woman this month, getting lots of library hours, and should get good paychecks in February. AND I have applied for a program (CICP, Colorado Indigent Care Program) that would reduce Big Brother’s hospital bill. I should qualify, so fingers crossed.

I’ve been reading this book The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class SurvivesWhile the point is to learn more about poverty and middle-class financial insecurity, I’m also finding that it makes me, well, feel pretty good about myself. Sometimes I have savings! I understand my bank account and never accrue fees! That already puts me way above average. Seems like I should be able to hang in there for a while longer.

How was your January?

December 2016 Spending: All Hail the Third Paycheck

Well, I’m a little behind the eight-ball analyzing my spending. Took a while to recover from my Christmas trip home.

Let’s take a look.

Income

Support : $690.67

Interest: $.45

Library take-home pay: $2797.85!  Holy cow! That’s 3 paychecks plus a wellness bonus.

Substitute teaching take-home pay: $215.64

Trivia pay: $70

HSA reimbursement: $595.09

Christmas money: $550

Total money in: $4919.70

Expenses

Rent and co-billed utilities: $1050.97

Renter’s insurance (quarterly): $33.50

Xcel (electric): $22.31

Ting: $26.75

Internet: $19.90

Laundry: $35

Cell phone repair: $86.18 (Plus parts–see below. I, uh, smashed it, and also it needed new prongs in the part where you plug it in. Now my Galaxy S3 is running great again. Total repair cost was about a hundred.)

Groceries: $187.99 (Low because we traveled at the end of the month)

Auto maintenance: $274.15 (My #$@&%*!? windshield cracked. Also snow tire installation and a wash.)

Gas: $31.95

6-month Geico bill: $489.42 (I have full coverage for my “fancy” car)

Parking: $6

Miscellaneous kids: $29.92 (includes their allowances and a birthday party gift)

Kid clothes and shoes: $23.34

Childcare: $32

Kid health: $95.69 (Just the tip of the iceberg. This is a payment on a $547 chunk of bill and we got another from the hospital for $1500.)

Restaurants: $45.30

Coffee shops and snacks: $12.12

“Out” entertainment: $45 (Did one of things where you drink wine and paint)

Frippery: $59 (haircut and razor cartridges)

Adult clothes: $26.44

Christmas presents and general festivity: $355.02

Miscellaneous shopping: $19.87 (About $15 was a new battery and screen protector for my phone.)

Uber to airport: $29.92

Salvation Army kettle: $2

Cat food: $26.90

Total money out: $3066.66

Surplus: $1853.04

Analysis:

Well, it’s certainly nice to have money left over. But it seems to me that all the surplus came from extra money, so I still have a ways to go to be living comfortably within my means. January will be tight. I will have no subbing check at all (the sub paycheck runs from the middle of one month to the middle of the next, and winter break means I didn’t sub) and not all that extra money. I’ll have to hope I don’t have any “oopses” this month–if I can keep from smashing from cell phone, cracking my windshield, or letter either of my kids injure themselves, it might turn out okay.

I had intended to spend some of the Christmas money on “stuff.” But then I realized I was actually pretty close to being able to pay off my lawyer, so I just earmarked the entire overage for my “professional services” category in YNAB. I will liberate some more money from my HSA (by submitting receipts I already paid for) and set that aside for the bill as well. I have no emergency fund.

Bottom line: I got a little breathing room this month, but I’m going to be skating on thin ice until I get a full-time job.

November Spending: That’s Not Good

I’ll tell you up front that I ran a deficit in November. Happily, I was able to cover the shortfall with savings and anticipate a rosier December. Here’s how it broke down:

Income

Support, minus my share of utilities for old house: $634.29 (this number excludes $183 that went to the XFP’s share of kid spending, which I do not count as either income or expense)

Library take-home pay: $1338.69

Substitute teaching take-home pay: $254.68

Christmas money: $200

Selling snow tires on Craigslist: $100

Total income: $2527.66

Expenses

Rent: $989

Home supplies and furnishings: $158.47 (includes an electric blanket for me, counter stools from Craigslist, and a variety of miscellany)

Laundry: $45 (still have several loads left on the card)

Bike supplies: $25.97 (I keep bleeding on this category! This is new tubes for me–3 for the price of 2–and lights for Big Brother’s bike, minus some Amazon credit I had lying around)

Car things: $1072.90 (Junkyard OEM wheels to put my snow tires on, plus I went $700 over my budget from the Frugal Patriarch)

Stamps: $9.40

XCel Energy: $17.45 (includes start-up charge)

Ting: $26.75

Internet: $9.95 (OK, it’s slow and not that reliable, but I LOVE charity internet!)

Annual life insurance bill: $116 for $100K coverage

Groceries: $221.26 (Finally some improvement in that category!)

Wine: $14.01

Gas: $62.65 (Because I absent-mindedly put a full tank of gas in my car right before I traded it in!)

Boys’ allowance: $9

Work childcare: $8

Kids’ health: $175 (That’s half of a $250 ER copay plus half of $100 in babysitting for the lady who came to pick up Little Brother while Big Brother and I stayed there until 2 AM. BB’s tongue is all better now but it sure was grueling. I expect a bigger bill later.)

Restaurants: $40.04

Coffee shops: $17.18 ($13 below my average! Look at me showing some restraint!)

Frippery: $50.94

Sewing supplies: $17.44

Artificial Christmas tree: $39.14

Miscellany at Target: $16.48

Annual rec center membership: $221.40 (WOW that’s a good deal!)

Shredding at Office Depot: $2.97

Total: $3357.42 

Analysis

(Note that the figures above do not include the ten thousand dollar gift which which I paid for almost all of my new car.)

Well, that’s a little alarming, a deficit of over eight hundred dollars. I had to just about drain all my savings categories. Obviously, having large car expenses was a major causative factor there. My earning power was limited by last month’s fall break (couldn’t sub) and a variety of ill-timed illnesses that fell on days I normally would have subbed or done on-call. I have sick leave at my regular job, but that wasn’t what I was missing. Ouch.

Fortunately, December is a three-paycheck month and the month in which I get my wellness bonus from my employer, so hopefully if I get my average hours-per-up before Christmas, I will be able to put on Christmas and still wind up in the black. And there are things I could have not skipped buying in November had I realized how short I was going to fall, so I think I’ll try more of a zero-based budget throughout the month. There is cause for caution, but not panic.

How was your November?

Settling In and Moving On: October Spending

Well, October was a big month. Here’s what went out and what came in!

Gifts: 1090

Selling stuff: $300

Support: 733

Wages: 1850.78

Total income: $3973.78

Rent plus security deposits and fees: $1349.52

Water: 27.70

Mortgage: 837.67

House and carpet cleaning: $230

Laundry card: $20

Renter’s insurance and moving costs: $93.20

Ting: $30. 99

Charity internet: $9.95 (WOW this is nice! I was paying $80 just for internet at the house. Evidently there is a $13 credit left on the account but I told the XFP he could keep it in exchange for continued use of his Netflix password.)

Total housing, bills, and utilities: $2599.03

Groceries: $326.06 (This seems high for me and half the boys’ dinners.)

Wine: $19.41

Total In-Home Food: $345.37

Gas: $43.38

Parking: $6 (for one job interview and my divorce hearing)

Total Transportation: $49.39

Kids miscellany: $34.50

Kids clothes: $43.50

Field trip: $7

Work-related babysitting: $128 (Ouch! I took a couple of not-very-profitable library shifts.)

Total kids: $213

Adult health: $38.28 (Got my cholesterol checked to win cash incentive at work)

Restaurants: $43.29 (mostly because I ordered pizza when I moved)

Coffee shops and snacks: $40.26

Frippery: $0 (I point this out because I feel a frippery purchase or two coming on)

Total pure luxury: $83.55

Dollar Shave Club: $6

Adult clothes: $45.32

Books: $6.46

Home supplies and furnishings: $184.55

Packing tape: $6.08

Bike supplies: 30.67

Child care pass at gym: $15

Cat food and litter: 39.90

ATM fees: $3

Total of shopping and miscellaneous whatnot: $336.98

Total spending: $3665.60

Analysis

I’m really satisfied with this month. It looks like I finished the month with only a few hundred dollars to spare even after receiving gifts and other support, but that’s only sort of true. I had actually already budgeted more than half the amount I needed for rent from previous months. So at the end of the month, I was actually able to make some pretty generous savings allocations. $500 more for my lawyer. (She was going to send me a final bill, but I asked her to open my tab back up–more on that below.) $500 to start a new emergency fund. Couple hundred to save up for my car insurance.

And, of course, I had unusual expenses this month. I think I showed a lot of home-furnishing restraint, but it’s not like I usually spend $65 on bedding. (How rarely do I do this? Well, never. I can’t remember ever previously owning a bedspread that was not a present from my grandmother, and the one I was using was circa 1994.) Or $230 on professional cleaning. (Empty house looked gross after I moved out.)

This big deal, of course, is that I paid both rent AND my half of the mortgage. With any luck, I will never have to do that again. See, the house sat and sat and sat on the market, going in and out of three different contracts, and in that time the XFP’s position changed. He is getting married again, and I am sure you all join me in wishing him and his fiancee the very best. The fiancee (I’ll need to think of some letters for her) has two boys of her own even smaller than Big Brother and Little Brother. They will need a larger abode than the XFP’s two-bedroom apartment, and it seemed quite logical for them to simply move back into the house the XFP already owns half of. My lawyer is working on an agreement for us, they will refinance and cash me out, and we won’t lose five figures of the proceeds to real estate commission. Win-win. (The XFP also just replaced his Fit with a Honda Odyssey. I may have LOLed.)

I see some areas to cut (my mocha habit, for one, and groceries seem on the high side considering I only have the kids half the time), but mostly things seem to be under control. So I finished the month feeling reasonably financially secure, not to mention very snug in my new place. I love the sound made by my new teakettle and the little hooks where I hang my unreasonable number of mugs. I am finally happy with the arrangement of my furniture (no more aggressively electronic entertainment center) and am making modest progress toward hanging things on the wall.

And… people were generous with me. Old acquaintances reached out with comforting words. Friends offered concrete help. My “internet stranger” friends flooded me with kind words. My family sent a generous check that allowed me to start some savings. It is wonderful to feel that so many people care about me and my story. Thank you.

How was your October? Do you find yourself, like me, heading into the holiday season with a feeling of abundance and well-being?