Before tearing apart my budget, keep in mind I don’t post my financial details as a recommendation. I simply share with the hope that we can mutually benefit and encourage each other to improve. That said…I bought an unbudgeted $500 TV.
Day job – My day job monthly income is fixed. Not much explanation needed here. Just trading five days for two.
Violin – Amanda has 10 violin students and bills them quarterly. She has a hefty waiting list, and I occasionally try to convince her to raise her prices. I’ve even drawn out supply and demand curves to entice her to climb upward toward that equilibrium, but she just doesn’t have the heart. For her, it’s more about having an outlet and continuing to grow personally. She doesn’t want to add more students due to other priorities such as home schooling our two oldest all while tending to our sweet little hellion.
Taxes & Deductions:
This is the boring stuff, but there are a few things I should point out.
Federal Withholding – I am currently withholding essentially nothing because the IRS already took 25% of my bonus that I received earlier in the year, which should cover the federal portion of taxes due. Giving tax free loans to the government does not sit well with me. If you tell me excitedly that you got a big refund this year, I will call you an idiot. Take control of your money. I’m happy to help you do that.
401(k) – I’m currently contributing 5%, which is what gets me the full match from my company. I want to bring this up to 15%, but I’m a still a few thousand short of what I want in my emergency fund.
Mortgage – The mortgage payment is about $950. I set aside $260 every month for property taxes, and I pay my homeowners insurance annually.
Giving – We pay a standard tithe, which means one tenth of our earnings. It didn’t used to seem like a big deal, but last year I paid almost $12,000, which is no small chunk of change to me at this point in my life. I don’t know that I’ll discuss it much in the blog because everyone has different giving philosophies, but there are some great articles on giving at Christian Personal Finance. I will say that over the summer I bought my son an ice cream cone and asked him for a bite. He said no, to which I replied, “Dude, you wouldn’t have any of that ice cream if it weren’t for me.” That’s when I had the epiphany, and that’s why we give.
Groceries – This is one area we don’t try to cut down on much. As long as we are planning meals well, not shopping on an empty stomach, etc., we are generally okay if we exceed our food budget. I think it’s tough to invest too much in your health. Quality food requires a quality sum of money. Green smoothie ingredients are not cheap.
Car Insurance – I’m pretty sure I live in the worst state for car insurance rates (#1 most expensive according to this article). We pay just under $1,000 every six months. No-fault car insurance is a joke. I decided to pay a few months in advance in order to meet the spending requirement for my Chase Ink Plus credit card. Now I get $500. Going forward, I’ll also make sure I save the $151 per month I would have been spending had I not paid in advance.
Doctor – I had a foot surgery last month. Normally I would wait a few months as part of a negotiation strategy, but they charged me upfront for the outpatient facility.
Electricity – I had signed up for auto withdrawal, but I didn’t know it hadn’t yet kicked in, so I had to pay 2 months worth.
Sports – Signed 2 kids up for soccer.
Home Services – Not too bad this month, but we have quite the list of repairs that need to be done. We love our first house of almost 2 years, but the maintenance costs are getting old.
Education – Books for home school.
Phone – The wife and I still use dumb phones. Hers is through Smart Talk and mine is through Verizon. Eventually I’ll upgrade, but I’m just not motivated enough at this point.
Work lunch – I rotate between eating out, brown bagging it, and coming home for lunch. Sticking to $30 per month for buying lunch during the work day is usually doable. Gotta get out and develop real life relationships to optimize one’s corporate toolness.
Fast food – Having my kids think I’m the best dad in the world for taking them to get 99 cent frosties is budgeted here. I’ve also been known to do 11pm Taco Bell runs with the guys (We have very sophisticated palates).
Movies – This covers my Netflix subscription and a movie for me. I’ll usually catch one with friends. Amanda is not much into the theater.
These were budgeted in my head but not specifically for October, which accounts for most of our unfavorable variance in what we saved.
The Piano – This is our second largest single expense this year after the back yard fence we had put in. My 6 year old son started taking lessons. I argued that he could learn on our nice electric piano just fine. But Amanda and the piano teacher thought it best if he learned on a real piano. Even though we had a few arguments about this, I knew all along what the outcome would be. $1,200 is no small sum (plus $75 for the piano inspection), but one ought to choose his battles wisely, which I did. I do recognize some of the benefits of a real piano. I just had a hard time shelling out the money when I don’t have the emergency fund where I want it yet.
The TV – I have no good excuse for buying a completely unbudgeted TV, but I’m going to go ahead and rationalize this one away.
- Rationalization #1 – This is the first TV I have ever purchased. Neither my wife nor I brought a TV into the marriage 8 years ago, and we just never got around to buying one. I was the only real movie/TV watcher, and I just watched all my shows on the trusty laptop.
- Rationalization #2 – Inconvenience. Playing musical chairs and rearranging furniture over the years every time we wanted to watch a movie together or to have the kids watch something eventually became tiresome.
- Rationalization #3 – I got $50 off by smooth talking the amazon rep.
- Rationalization #4 – It’s our early Christmas present to us.
- Rationalization #5 – I’m going to get $500 soon from my Chase Ink Plus sign up bonus.
So there you go, illegitimately rationalized.
The Oven – The oven in our house is ancient, extremely small, and poorly positioned. We had the chance to get a brand new $1,200 oven for $178. And we did.
How’s that for my first budget disclosure? How’d you do?