Spring is finally here! We can actually feel a hint of warmth shining down on us in Michigan. Now that tax season is over, I hope to shift some focus to barebudgetguy.com, but the beach is so beautiful! We’ll see what happens…
It is that time of the month again, when I post the results of how our actual finances for the month stack up against our budget. I discuss the items on the budget on which we significantly over or underestimated along with any other items I think are relevant to highlight for the month.
Highlights this month: We hit the big milestone this past month of increasing our retirement contributions to 15% (our baby step #4). This month we will shift our focus to opening 529 Plans for the kids.
My job $16K (spot on): April will likely be our highest earning month this year because that’s when bonuses are paid. It was half as much as last year’s, but I’m just just happy that I got one! I was able to calculate what it would be several months in advance, which is why it was spot on with what I budgeted.
Violin net income $250 ($450 worse): Amanda bills every 3 months, and not all the payments have trickled in yet. There were also a few expenses I didn’t anticipate.
CPA/Other $2,233 ($733 better): I had just a little more side audit work and tax return activity than I planned for, which is not a bad thing.
Giving $1,840 ($18 worse): We give 10%, which equated to more than usual this month since we earned more. Since I knew almost exactly what we were going to make, we came in pretty close to the budget. It’s still a little weird to throw this number out there, because it’s a very personal choice, so I plan to write a post on tithing soon to make it less awkward for all of us.
Mortgage $950 (spot on): I pay homeowner’s insurance and property taxes separately, usually as a lump sum so I can earn credit card bonuses. If I paid it all together with our mortgage, our payment would be closer to $1,250 per month.
Groceries $675 ($25 worse): We did well with groceries this month. Amanda is very conscious of the budget in this area, but when we need fresh produce, we usually don’t deprive ourselves.
Of all of the expenses to skimp on, I don’t think groceries is should be the first choice, especially if you are trying to eat healthily. Sure, you could buy ramen, pasta, rice, or beans all of the time, but it’s best to find the right balance between saving on groceries and maintaining great health, hopefully erring on the side of your health.
Auto $549 ($519 worse): There is a story here.
I was loading the 3 kids into the van to head to a soccer game. While I was strapping “the baby” (she’s 3) into her car seat, my 5 year old was in the back seat attaching a bungee cord to the overhead passenger handles on each side of the car (without my knowledge). She decided to remove the bungee hook from on side. When she did, her little grip wasn’t enough to maintain the tension, and it shot across from one side to the other shattering the driver-side back window.
It was LOUD, and for a few seconds I had no idea what was going on until I looked to my right and saw a shattered window and a little girl with wide eyes.
I thought about doing the duct tape thing, but we just decided to take care of it along with our front windshield (which had a crack that has managed to grow the length of the windshield over the past few years).
Kids are great, but every once in a while they brake stuff leading to occasional $500 dollar repairs.
Clothes $224 ($26 better): I budgeted for more clothes this month because Amanda is trying to help me elevate my wardrobe as well as get some new summer clothes for the kids.
Education $205 ($105 worse): We homeschool our kids, and we had to buy some new math books this month.
Lawn $169 ($31 better): Last year we had a lawn service. Having both grown up in the desert, we are not experts at making things grow. This year, with a little more confidence, we decided to do all of the treatments ourselves. So instead of paying $55 for each of the next 6 months like I originally planned, we just bought all of the fertilizers and weed treatments which should last us all season.
Fuel $151 ($74 better): I’m not sure how we managed to come out favorable to what we budgeted for gas given that we took a family trip involving 12 extra hours on the road. We must have come into the month with full tanks.
Restaurants $126 ($46 worse): We don’t usually go out to eat as a whole family, but this month not only did Amanda and I go out to dinner once but we also had 2 spontaneous family dinners out with the kids. One was to a local diner that was featured on Good Morning America last year (so we had to try it), and the other was on our family trip 2 weeks ago. I don’t think it’s good to make a habit of disregarding your budget, but I think it’s okay to be spontaneous and sacrifice your budget for a memory every once in a while.
Sporting goods $90 ($40 worse): I knew we’d have to buy some stuff for soccer this season, now that we have 2 kids playing, but we also got our baby a bike helmet. It was fairly expensive, but she really loves it and wanted to wear it, so we thought it was worth it.
Overall, we saved almost exactly what we budgeted due to higher earnings and less tax withheld offset by the cost of our car window repair.
How’d April go for you?