January was a decent month. The good things offset the not-so-good things, and we came out a little bit ahead, no thanks to the electrician.
Violin – Amanda billed in December, but the late payments are still rolling in. She didn’t earn more money than she thought she would. The timing just makes January look better.
CPA & Writing – I’m doing some long-distance audit & financial statement review work on the side. I also started writing a monthly column for a credit union back in my home town of Las Vegas, which I bill for quarterly. So that gave me a little extra bump.
My federal withholdings are probably a little low right now. I’ll adjust them in April after I get my work bonus. I’ll be able to better estimate my taxes at that point.
401K – In order to take advantage of my company’s 401k match, I need to contribute 5%, which is the amount I contributed all last year. The contribution rate was set to automatically increase to 6% in 2015.
While I’m on the subject, here’s the structure of my company’s 401k matching program:
- They contribute 3% of my salary whether I contribute anything or not
- They match 100% of the first 3% I contribute
- They match 50% of the next 2% I contribute
I honestly haven’t done a lot of research, so I don’t know how good this is relative to other companies. I believe it’s decent, but I’d be interested to know how any of yours are structured.
Home Owners Insurance – Our rate is about $84 per month, but paying the year in full is a great way to meet spending requirements for credit card bonus offers. In my case, it helped me meet almost half of the bonus spending requirement for the Citi Aadvantage Platinum Select Mastercard (50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in 3 months). We might use these points to go to Nicaragua this year.
Groceries – It was not a great month for groceries, let’s be honest. Part of this is us spontaneously buying many cases of canned goods from Aldi’s to try to get our 3 month and year supply rounded out. We did not budget for this additional amount. But still not a great month! We finally started eating totally gluten free, so maybe that is part of it? More meat, gluten-free flour, and those noodles.
It also seems like the little kidlets are eating more food, now that we don’t have any bread, crackers, or other gluten snacks in the house (seriously our daughter who never ate more than a couple bites of anything and was becoming skin and bones is now asking for 2nd and 3rd helpings, we think she feels better). Maybe we need a grocery tutor. Maybe my wife will have to finally start couponing (that’s what she’s threatening). Maybe we will become more diligent students of the Frugal Farmer grocery plan. Stay tuned…
Home Services – My wife got quotes from 3 different electricians for some work we needed done.
- Electrician #1 quoted $500.
- Electrician #2 quoted $500.
- Electrician #3 quoted $350. So naturally, we went with Electrician #3…and then he billed us $500.
He never gave us a revised estimate after starting the job. He only reiterated the $350. He gave some of his workers incorrect information that caused them to make extra trips, all of which added to the labor charge. He seemed to have forgotten all of this when we spoke to him on the phone about it and was adamant that we pay the full $500. So what did I do? I sent him a check for $350. I don’t know if it’s over yet…
Flight – Amanda’s flight to her brother’s wedding cost a little more than we thought.
Education – Home school books (Explode the Code, fyi) and a new weekly tutor for dyslexia.
Phone & Internet – I have no idea why I budgeted nothing for January. I’m just going to blame it on my kids.
Doctor – We usually spend $100-$200 on deductibles, copays, etc. during the month. All of that is currently being paid with incentive credit funds that I have through my health plan at work.
Auto Insurance, Clothes, & Furnishings – I probably shouldn’t have budgeted anything here. We don’t owe car insurance until March, and clothes & furnishings are more my wife’s department. Some months we discuss the budget more than others.
1 month down and 11 to go. I feel really good about having set a personal profit plan for 2015. Focusing on more than just the month at hand has really helped to keep me focused on taking actions now that will help me save money later.
Here are two questions I’d really love to get your perspective on. If you can’t decide which one to answer, choose the 2nd.
- How does my 401k plan compare to yours?
- Should I pay the electrician the remaining $150?