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Ashley’s November 2015 Budget Update

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November seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye. I was proud of how well I did in trying to tighten our belt, especially with the Thanksgiving holiday/travel. I’ve been struggling with our food expenses (both eating out and regular grocery budgets have been out of control lately), so I made a concerted effort this month to try to get those categories down a bit and was pleased with the result. We could still do better (we’re not perfect), but this was a big decrease compared to the past few months, so overall I’m happy.

Place Amount Spent
Rent 1200
Electricity 193
Water 60
Natural gas 65
Cell Phones (2 lines) 92
Cable/Internet 100
Car Insurance 117
Trash 35
Preschool 1006
Gift-Giving 119
Entertainment 38
Restaurants 135
Groceries 605
Gasoline 64
Household Goods 70
Clothing 53
Toddler purchases 107
Rainy Day Savings 150
Savings Goals 500
Debt Payments 2751
Total Budgeted $7460

Comments:

Preschool:  Preschool was a little more this month because we had to utilize the after-care program a bit more than usual. The preschool we chose ends their normal day at 3pm. Rarely are we able to pick them up at 3. Generally we aim for a 4pm pick-up time (which is what they’re used to since that’s when their old preschool had pick-up), but there have been a handful of times that we’ve both been tied up with work until 4:30 or 5:00pm. Our preschool charges by the hour (so we don’t get a discount if we pick up at 4:30 rather than 5), but we still prefer to have our children if we can, so we just pay the whole hour and get them as soon as we can.

Gift-Giving:  Gift-giving was high this month because it includes several items. We bought gifts for our Utah relatives (Grandma, Dad, and Uncle) so we could take them up with us over Thanksgiving rather than mailing at Christmas. I also bought a gift for the girls (hidden in the closet until Christmas) and this figure includes the belt I bought for hubs for our anniversary at the beginning of November.  For five-six gifts total (depending on whether you lump the girls’ gift as one or view it as two), I think we did pretty good.

Entertainment:  This month we rented a couple Netflix movies, I bought a few iTunes songs, and hubs watched the girls one night so I could go to a movie with a friend. We saw the last movie in the Hunger Games series. I think this was the first time I’ve been to a movie since the last Hunger Games movie….it’s been awhile. : )  Fun month!

Gasoline:  This is actually low for the month, and its because I didn’t include the gas costs for our travel to Utah. My dad paid our gasoline costs.

Household Goods: This is from a Sonicare toothbrush (I lost our old one, leaving it at my Dad’s house on a previous Utah trip. I’d been using a manual one and hoping to retrieve my Sonicare one at this trip but when I went and couldn’t find it anywhere I gave up and bought a new one). The extra cost is from a few Halloween decorations purchased on clearance after Halloween was over (to save for next year).

Savings:  Savings were low this month in favor of trying to put more money toward debt. Our rainy day savings were $100 for Christmas spending (to be spent in December) and $50 for the girls’ 529 accounts. The $500 savings goal was for our cruise 2016 fund.

That’s it! We’re trying to have a frugal Christmas this year, too. It’s funny how every year we tend to think “next year….”  This year we had hoped to do some really fun Christmas activities that just aren’t in the budget (the Polar Express was at the top of the list). Instead, we’re digging deep and really trying our hardest to get out of debt! It’s not going to be this month, but we’re working hard to try to pass the consumer debt-free mark in January. We’re so excited! It will feel like Christmas all over again!

How are you trying to save money with all the holiday spending?

Ashley

Texan at heart; Arizonan on paper. Lover of running, cheese, camping, and family (fur-family included!). Blogger, motivated to get out of debt YESTERDAY! Follow along with my journey!

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10 Comments

  • Reply AT |

    Definitely do Polar Express next year when you kids are a little older and will really enjoy it. Up your Christmas savings each month to do it, since you’ll be consumer debt free in January! They will only be of an age to believe for so long.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Very true! I do think 4 1/2 (which they’ll be next Christmas) will be a perfect age for it!

  • Reply Catherine |

    I totally understand the impulse to pick the kids up ASAP, but on days when you’re already paying for care until 5pm, is it possible to fit in any food prep? We wrangle with this often – our sitter stays until 630, but sometimes I’m able to get home earlier. On those days (especially when the kids are at our house) I really try to use those extra minutes to start on dinner or go to the market. It’s not enough time for a luxurious nap, but I’ve found that just 20 “extra” minutes of paid care means we are much less likely to do takeout. Our situation is different because the kids are either in our home or just a few minutes away, so your mileage may vary.

  • Reply Ashley |

    I hear you with the holiday spending. It is so hard for me to not spend all year and then have so many gifts to buy. It is extremely tempting to just grab a small thing for me here and there… I am less than $900 from paying off my student loan (then I’m debt free besides our house!!!) so that should really be some good motivation

  • Reply Den |

    Sounds like you are on track to pay off your vehicle in January! What a great way to start 2016 – great job keeping on track!

  • Reply Amber Masters |

    eating out is our biggest struggle! just know you did GREAT this month compared to us, haha. Have you found anything that works for you in trying to eat out less???

    • Reply Ashley |

      One thing I noticed is that eating out is a considerably larger struggle now that I work traditional job hours. When I worked from home it was MUCH easier to work around the temptation by prepping food early in the day so there were no excuses come dinner time.
      Even so, one thing that really worked for me was doing a cash envelope for food purchases (groceries & restaurants). I never got into cash envelopes for ALL categories of spending, but I did it for a few months for eating out and groceries and it made a big difference to see the money dwindle. I’d replenish my envelopes weekly (as opposed to some people who take out all the money for a whole month at a time). I would be much more cognizant of our spending and less likely to spend on eating out. Hope it works for you!

  • Reply Sarah |

    Here is an easy chicken recipe. You can brine it or not. I put the salt/pepper/paprika/etc., in a plastic bag with the oil, add the chicken and then shake. Use tongs the whole time so I don’t get chicken on my hands. You can put it in foil or in a pan and bake. Quick and easy. Add a veggie and/or fruit and you have a meal. We have been using the small chicken tenders so it cooks quick. Then, use the extra chicken the next lunch or night. Sometimes we even cook the chicken just to have it in the fridge for sandwiches or salads.

    http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/baked-chicken-breast/

  • Reply Review |

    Thank you for breaking your budget down for us. I really need to do this. To be honest, I don’t want to see how much I spend on take out, Starbucks, bars, etc. The first step though is break it down like you did here. Thanks Ashley for the motivation!

So, what do you think ?