Lots of momentous happenings this past month in Bare Budget Town as evidenced by all of the red in my June budget. I feel confident, however, when I say that most of the areas of overspending did not involve frivolous expenses but rather investments from which we are already seeing benefits (new couches, trampoline, hitting the gym, etc).
This is why you love the Bare Budget Reports: I’m a normal guy with a 9 to 5 (more like 7:30 to 6, but who’s counting?) job who doesn’t make thousands of dollars online that you can actually kind of relate to. Reading the financial details of “Personal Finance Joneses,” as I’ve heard them called, is inspiring for some but discouraging for others.
We here in the Bare Budget Guy household are grateful to be on a solid financial path as we make slow but steady progress on our baby steps, and we have nothing to legitimately complain about. We have everything to be grateful for. The trick is to not let my desire to amass more wealth diminish my gratitude, which isn’t always an easy balance.
Last month’s income consisted of my regular paycheck, a monthly loss in the violin business, and a check for $5,000 that I got in the mail from my amazing 92 year old grandma.
The violin loss came from not receiving all my wife’s billed income yet, combined with payment for her summer suzuki violin teacher training (my 5 year old daughter is going for cello training too).
I opened 529 accounts for our 3 kids. I’ve been saying it for months, and I finally went and did it. It was pretty easy, and I felt surprisingly satisfied after doing it.
If I hadn’t spent all our money a few years ago on an MBA, I would have done this much sooner, but it’s finally done, and that’s what matters. Now I’m going to set it up to direct deposit, so I won’t even have to think about it.
Just a quick note on the benefits of 529 plans. Some of the rules vary by state, but in general:
- Earnings are nontaxable when used for college expenses
- In the majority of states, you can deduct your contributions up to a certain amount on your state income taxes
Giving $1,387 ($105 worse): We give 10 percent of our income. I am usually able to budget the exact amount because it is usually based on the prior month’s income, although this month with the money from my grandma and violin payment collections, I was slightly off. A few weeks ago, I talked about why we give (rather than become bajillionares).
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 them all together with our mortgages, our payment would be closer to $1,250 per month.
Groceries $779 ($129 worse): This includes grocery and non-grocery items. We’ve bumped up our grocery budget in $50 increments every few years. This month we are finally coming to terms with reality and bumping it up another $50 to $700.
I’ve generally focused on increasing my income rather than putting in extra effort to cut expenses. One option that we haven’t done much of is taking advantage of coupons.
Neither my wife nor I have historically been particularly interested in “couponing,” mainly because it seems overwhelming and time consuming. We may, however, start looking into it more.
Gym $425 ($125 worse): We did actually budget $300 for our Summer Gym Experiment. Never, ever, have I gone to exercise at a gym. I’ve been a very big proponent of the home gym over the last several years, but we wanted to get our kids swimming regularly and Amanda feels like she gets better workouts at the gym. I started going a few times a week, and I must say it’s not that bad. The overage is for group swim classes for all 3 kids- should have known and budgeted for it but forgot.
Sports $225 ($125 worse): We got a trampoline! And we got it for free from some friends who were getting rid of it. One part of the frame was broken, so we paid a guy $60 to weld it for us. It seemed a little steep to me, but it was well worth it! The kids have spent hours outside. Best money spent last month by far.
Also, my wife also got a ping pong table for $45 at a garage sale for Father’s day! The rest was for soccer sign ups, which we knew was coming.
Furnishings $220 ($20 worse): We got 2 like-new couches for $90 each off of craigslist (2 years of Amanda checking craigslist couches on a daily basis finally paid off). Our old couch was literally falling apart at the seams. We had sewn it back up several times (not an easy task, people), but the opportunity finally came, and we jumped on it.
Being a woman can get you sweet deals. Though she called soon after the couches were posted for sale, Amanda was still about the tenth person to call–that’s how good of a deal it was. But she was the first female to call, which was our golden ticket because the woman selling them felt more comfortable with having a woman come to get them. That’s an example of gender discrimination working in one’s favor.
Home Services $217 ($100 worse): We had our carpet cleaned in all the areas where our kids had gotten it dirty. In other words, we cleaned all of our carpet. I figured it would be about $100…but I figured wrong.
I started posting my quarterly budget results. Sometimes we have good months, and sometimes we have bad months. We won’t know how we’re really doing unless we look at the cumulative effect.
Versus my Plan for the second quarter of 2015, I saved about $4,700 more (including 401k & 529 contributions) than I planned, which is great! This is mostly driven by extra income rather than by cutting expenses. Not too shabby of a forecast in terms of accuracy if you ask me!
Don’t forget to Bare your Budget for $50
Many of my awesome finance blogging colleagues post their net worth or their spending online to satisfy the financial curiosity of people like me. But that’s not enough for me! I want you to post yours, and I can even let you know how I think you’re doing if you want.
See the details of my budget posting tool and giveaway rules here. It ends in less than a week, and you still have very good chances.
Update: This giveaway has ended.