:::: MENU ::::
Posts tagged with: Capital One 360

Ashley’s February 2016 Budget Update

by

There’ve been some changes to the ol’ budget this past month. Check out what we spent and saved in February:

 

 

Place Amount Spent
Rent 1200
Down Payment Savings 2155
Electricity 283
Water 61
Natural gas 163
Cell Phones (2 lines) 89
Cable/Internet 97
Car Insurance (now comes out of rainy day funds)
Trash 35
Preschool 1163
Gift-Giving 381
Personal Maintenance 8
Restaurants 175
Entertainment 147
Groceries 695
Gasoline 74
Household Goods 68
Clothing 36
Postage 15
Rainy Day Savings 3175 (minus deductions, see below)
Savings Goals 775 (minus deductions, see below)
Debt Payments 1261
Total Budgeted $12,056

 

Comments:

Down Payment Savings ($2155): Notice that I created a new account called “Down Payment Savings.” The goal is to get to $10,000 by summer time. We’re planning to start house-hunting around May, with hopes of closing by August (our current lease is up in August, though we can go month-to-month if needed). This savings goal will heavily impact the first half of our year’s budgets since we need to save heavily at the beginning of the year.

Electricity ($283): I posted previously about our outrageous electric bill (our gas bill was high, too). Fortunately, this has gone down. I’ve already gotten the bill for March and its over a hundred dollars than February’s bill. I discussed in my post possible reasons for the sky-high bill. I took active measures to correct those issues and it looks like it paid off big-time!

Car Insurance ($0):  After this month, I’ll be removing this line item from our budget. I wrote earlier about how I changed our insurance to be paid in full for 6-month chunks of time so we could save some big money. For this budget update I wanted to just remind readers of this budget change. Moving forward, I’ll be setting money aside monthly for car insurance as part of our “annual fees” rainy day savings (part of our Capital One 360 savings account).

Gift-Giving ($381): This number is really deceiving. It does include 3 birthdays and 1 house-warming gift (for a total of $181 spent on gifts), but the other $200 is actually a charitable donation I made so I could get Arizona’s tax credit. Every year since I’ve started blogging we’ve been making similar donations (this donation was for a school, but we also donate to a children’s nonprofit organization we support). The donations cover our state income tax liability and it’s great because we get to support these organizations we love. It’s a win-win. As a side-note, I’m very curious to see what our tax liability might be for 2015. Last year we ended up owing big time! This year I was better about making realistic sized estimated tax payments, plus my new full-time job takes taxes out of my check. So I’m hoping we’ll end up breaking even, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Personal Maintenance ($8): This is just for a box of hair dye. Operation cut/color-my-own-hair is still going strong. In full disclosure, though, I’m planning to get a professional cut/color prior to cruise 2016 (which will come from my cruise savings).

Entertainment ($147): Part of this ($65) was from renewing our family’s membership to the zoo. I struggled with that decision for a bit because we don’t go nearly as often as we used to now that I’m working full-time (we used to go nearly every week!). But I did the math and realized that we’d literally only have to go three times to make the cost worthwhile (without membership it would cost us $28 per visit). We still go about once per month, so I opted to go ahead and renew. The rest of the spending was from a date that hubs and I went on. As promised, hubs and I are planning to do about one date per month this year (in the past 2 years we rarely ever had date nights). So expect this category to be a bit higher this year in compared to previous years.

Groceries ($695):  I’ve consistently over-spent in this category every single month since I started working full-time. Our old grocery budget (before full-time job) was $500/month. When I started working I initially increased the budget to $600/month. I’ve struggled hard to try to make that cut-off, but to no avail. I attribute it to buying more prepared foods and not cooking fully from scratch as often. But, honestly, after 7 months now of battling this budget category I think it might be time to admit that I just can’t hit the $600-mark. I still don’t want to be spending as much as I did this month on groceries, but I may increase my budget to $650. It’s a simple time management issue. I’m working on it, but I’m not perfect. Sometimes I’ve gotta buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for dinner, you know? That’s just how it goes.

Household Goods ($68): This includes laundry soap, toilet paper, and some new flower pots and soil. I should post a picture of my chive plant soon. It’s seriously out-of-control! The biggest I’ve ever seen!!!

Rainy Day Savings ($3175): I’d deposited $3175 into my various rainy day funds (though some money was also withdrawn from these accounts.) See below:

  • 3-6 Month EF: $1,000. My goal is to get to $5,000 for now (about 1 month of expenses). Eventually I’ll want to raise it up further, but that’s it for now.
  • Car Repairs fund: $400 (though I withdrew $195 for a new tire and will withdraw the other $200 soon to repair the weird car flap thing that broke on my car the week after I paid it off).
  • Birthdays: $50
  • Health: $425 (though I withdrew $74 for a doctor’s visit and prescription after my kids got pink eye. I was able to save money because I only paid for one doctor’s trip and one prescription, but it was enough for both kids. Our pediatrician is awesome this way because she’ll often look at both kids, even if I’m only there for one of the kids).
  • Annual Fees: $1000 (though I withdrew $918 to account for 6-months of car insurance)
  • Pet Expenses: $250
  • Girls’ College Savings: $50

Savings Goals ($775): $775 was deposited but there were also withdrawals. See below:

  • Savings for 2015 Roth IRA: $275
  • Cruise 2016: $500. I also withdrew $1276 from my cruise fund to make our final cruise payment and buy a couple cruise-related items (e.g., a snorkel set and beach stuff). I’ve got a post that talks more about how much money is still leftover and what I plan to do with it, planned to post later this week.

Debt:  I gave a full debt update here.

Final Thoughts:

This was a really high-income month for us! We were able to save a TON of money! Between the house downpayment, the rainy day savings, and the savings goals we put basically $6,000 toward various savings (though, to be fair, a lot of the “rainy day savings” were immediately spent. Example: nearly a thousand for car insurance, another couple hundred for car repairs, etc.) Even with some of these larger expenses, I was very pleased with how well we did! As I’d mentioned in my debt update post, we’re right on track (ahead of schedule, really) with our debt payments in order to reach out $30,000 goal for the year of 2016. And in regard to the house downpayment fund, we’re right on track with that as well. We’ll need to keep putting about $2,000/month toward the down payment fund to reach $10,000 by June. It will be tight, but I believe it’s doable. Finally, I mentioned in this post how we had a bit of extra money. A lot of that ended up being routed toward rainy day savings funds. But we also put just over $300 into our “last month’s income” account inside of YNAB’s budget software. It’s just a tiny amount, but it’s the beginning. I can’t wait to build back up that buffer so that we’re always living on last month’s income. It was a fantastic feeling of peace to have that extra money (in addition to an EF). Can’t wait to get that feeling back! Little by little. It will happen. : )

How did you do with budgeting last month? Do you have any problem areas in your budget? How do you deal with them?



May 2015 Budget Update

by

I have been dreading this post. Like – dreading it!

This month has not been great in terms of our budgeting. I’ll show you the numbers in a second and I know they’re higher than our average numbers, but I also don’t feel like we went crazy or anything.

In basically all categories, our overspending was due to known expenses that I had failed to plan for. Basically – no big surprises came up (no crap river or emergency dental visits). Instead it was stuff like needing to buy the girls new swimsuits for their free swim lessons (they grow too fast! I tried to put them in last year’s swimsuits and the resulting atomic wedgies indicated it was NOT going to happen). Also, I mentioned that my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law visited for four days. While here we paid to take them out to dinner one night in celebration of MIL’s birthday (and to thank them for their visit). That single dinner blew our entire month’s eating out budget. I should have increased it for the month since I knew this visit was coming up. Same thing happened with groceries. Aside from the one big dinner out, we did most of our eating at home and I hadn’t adequately planned by increasing our grocery budget.

At the month’s end we were over budget by nearly $400.

This is where YNAB comes into play and – again – why I have loved it so much (see my full review here). Going into the software I was easily able to move some monies around. I’d originally planned to put some money toward savings for dental/vision and annual fees but I re-allocated that money to different categories. Additionally, I had to tap into some of my Capital One 360 savings accounts. I didn’t want to pull all the money from my Emergency Fund (more on that in a minute), so I pulled about half from the EF and the other half from my semi-annual fees account. This move was partly psychological and partly strategic. It didn’t feel like as big of a “hit” when I spread the money out (instead of taking solely from my EF). That’s the psychological part. How was this move also strategic?

Sigh…

Here’s the part I’ve REALLY dreaded of this post. I have to tell you guys that this month did not go well for husband’s business. In the past when we’ve had lower income months I’ve gotten all introspective about it and been very public with what I think our mistakes were and how to correct them. But in the interest of keeping some things just between hubs and I, I’m not going to go into reasons this month (though he and I have discussed them endlessly, so its not for lack of analysis).

Long story short, Hubs’ business came up empty-handed this month. Completely. This isn’t the first time, though it’s the first time in a looooooong time (first time since I’ve been blogging). In the early days of his business some 4+ years ago this happened more frequently. There were even some months where he’d lose money! (Yes. As in, we’d have to take money from our personal checking/savings to cover his business losses). On the overall, his business’ trend has been upward. But this is life owning a small business. Some months are awesome! And some months you may not make anything. You hope the awesome months are more frequent and the crappy months are few and far between (and, in general, that’s the trend his business has been taking). But this month was a crappy one.

So how will we survive?

Well, fortunately, I still get paid from my job! And with the shortage we’ll be forced to raid our EF. However, we’ve also been trying to sell things to minimize our losses. Husband has sold some of his shoes (it’s funny, but he has a larger shoe collection than I do!), and has sold a nice watch he owns. Our regular pay will still be business as usual (being saved for the following month since we live on last month’s income). But with any side-money we receive from selling things, we’ll use it to supplement the current month (June) to minimize the amount we have to take from our EF to survive the month.

So there you have it. Last month’s overages and the plan for next month.

Now, onto the actual numbers.

 

Place Amount Spent
Rent 1055
Electricity 127
Water 61
Natural gas 18
Sprint (2 lines) 119
Cable/Internet 99
Car Insurance 58
Health Insurance 394
Trash 35
Preschool 1024
Gift-Giving 29
Restaurants 162
Entertainment 10
Groceries 550
Gasoline 71
Medical 11
Household Goods 100
Clothing 20
Toddler purchases 60
Work Purchases 47
Rainy Day Savings 130
Savings Goals 500
Debt Payments 1708
Total 6388

I hope your May was more fruitful than ours! Here’s to hoping we knock it out of the park in June!

Do you/have you ever had a variable income? How do you handle the fluctuations? Our variable income is one of the main reasons I loved YNAB’s idea of living on last month’s income. It’s also one of the main reasons we have a larger emergency fund than the $1,000 beginner EF recommended by Dave Ramsey. That’s way too low for my comfort level given the sometimes unexpectedly low income months we have on occasion.

 

Note: My YNAB and CapitalOne360 links are refer a friend links. If you join it doesn’t cost you anything extra but I do get a small compensation for the referral. All opinions are 100% my own and I joined paying my own money so this is not a sponsored post and I received no discount or anything for mentioning them. Particularly for YNAB, I’m just giving them a shout out because their budgeting system really has made a HUGE impact on getting our financial house in order!