Oh my…it’s the 15th and I have my income and expense report ready! Yay! I’m getting better with this 🙂
Without further ado, here’s how May turned out for us. My comments are after the report.
Entertainment: $15 of this was for a carnival for my son to go to. He was so happy and it was worth every penny. I also bought a DVD to work-out to and we rented some movies to watch while I was nursing an injury.
Groceries: We ended up spending less in May for groceries and it was very close to $400. It could be that we stocked our pantry and freezer less. We’ll have to see how June turns out.
Household: Again, this category is a little higher in May due to shipping some items out. Sometimes it’s costly to live away from family.Â We also purchased some tools to be able to save on doing some needed home repair ourself.
Insurance: The amount here is for my life insurance. That is due every three months unless I decide to change the frequency.
Health Insurance: Our payment is too high for health insurance. I originally got the plan we did because it had maternity coverage. I think I will be shopping for coverage without maternity. Even though I would like another child, I need some time to take care of my weight issues beforehand. Why pay the high price in the meantime? I can always go back when the time is right.
Pets: Oh my. We “adopted” a stray that took refuge in our garage during a late winter storm. We fed it and called the shelter. They said we had to put an ad in the paper and wait two weeks before they would take the cat. We were able to catch it a little while later and we brought it into the porch. Hmm…it is a she and she looks pretty plump. We never called the shelter back because we thought she was pregnant. She sure was. Right now we have her and 4 kittens to take care of. Litter and food costs are jacking up our pet costs big time. In a few weeks we can start trying to find them homes.
Recreation: One big cost here was for equipment for my son to practice sports at home so we could play with him. We did find one piece of equipment used, but it was in horrible shape so we decided to buy it new. The other big cost was for fishing licenses for my husband and I since we enjoy going fishing and I love to eat perch.
Taxes: It’s pretty high again in May because of a payment we made for what we owed.
OVERALL: By golly, even though we had major expenses in May, we managed to still have some money left over to have a positive month. Thank goodness for some extra income.
I definitely want to cut more costs and I’m going to start with the health insurance. It’s time to find a cheaper plan. I am also seriously considering stopping my 401(k) contribution.Â But, we’ll see.
I wouldn’t recommend cutting costs by reducing your 401(k) contribution. I know it’s tempting because you are in debt reduction mode, but you’ve done such a good job of cutting down debt, and you’re on your way to being debt free. Meanwhile, saving for retirement is still important. Also, because your savings for your 401(k) are pre-tax, you won’t get back as much as you think.
I’d say this:
Your goal is to pay off your debt by May 2008, right? So, okay, if in Jan ’08, you’re coming up a little short, then go ahead and stop your 401(k) contribution for a few months so you can meet your goal. But at this point, please keep it. I think that just as you thanked yourself later when you had a savings account, 65 year old Tricia will thank you for keeping the 401(k) going.
About the 401(k), I have been thinking about reducing my contribution for about a month and a half now. I haven’t done it yet, so that means I really don’t want to do it. I am giving it a lot of thought.
It’s hard because for a while there we were making more money and things were going well and I started making some smart financial moves. We got health insurance & I started contributing to a 401(k). That right there is a littler over $550 out the door every month that wasn’t going out before.
But now with our income lower, I’m not sure we can support the above. Our goal date is May 2009, so we have a few more years. I’m okay if the debt reduction slows, I’m just worried about keeping afloat with everything else. I really need to sit down and create a new budget.
I like the 65 year old Tricia example. That’s a great way of putting it.
I am copying your spreadheet for my monthly financial inventory. I have been reading your blog for about 6 months now and it’s one of my few daily reads. I learna great deal from you. could you please browse mine and see what I can do, besides being a daily writer. I write when I can at present but it’s been very enlightening and empowering when I do. Always a “Look what I did today.” It wouldnt’ be that way if I wrote every day.
Love your stuff! Take care…
$800 for health insurance????? WOW I thought me and my husband’s insurance was too high ($270) do you have independent insurance? if you do, trying getting a membership through farm bureau. before we did, blue cross blue shield quoted us $500 a month just for me and my husband (no smoke, no drink either), after i got a farm bureau membership the SAME insurance form the SAME company was only $270!
Not sure if you get a match on your 401k or not, but if you do and you’re contributing more than the match, you could save money by only contributing whatever they match. For example, if your company matches up to 3% of your contribution and you’ve been contributing 5%, drop down to only contribute 3%. You’ll still be saving, still be earning “free’ money, and will have a little mor einy our pocket.
Congratulations on the cat adoption! It’s wonderful when animals that come from bad situations find a loving home, and it’s especially nice that you are also housing and caring for her babies. I hope you are able to provide the mom a “forever” home. The cat would be so lucky, and I think it’s great for kids to have pets when growing up.
Also, once she stops nursing, please make sure to have her neutered (or maybe that’s the term for male cats!) so that she doesn’t bring more kittens into the world since there are too many already. A local shelter will probably do it for free or very low cost.
I think it’s wonderful of you to take the time and expense of taking care of a stray and her kittens while you’re in such debt reduction mode. I’m sure your kid will learn a lot from such experiences.
You might be able to trim your auto insurance. If you graduated from college, your alumni association may offer group discounts on car insurance. That is how my husband and I lowered our auto insurance significantly. It also helped to group our home insurance with the same company. And we increased our deductibles and verbally requested a “top-tier” rate since we’ve never filed an insurance claim before, and our credit score is good. Hope this helps.
Great job on budgeting, and awesome to see the income increase quite a bit this month. It looks like you improved in several categories since last month. I like seeing the cigarette costs decreasing. One question: how do you guys keep your gas costs so low?! We spend roughly $260 per month. Of course our situation is probably different from yours – I commute at least 55 miles a day to work and we live in a rural area, so trips to the store are a bit costly too. Good job also on reducing your grocery costs. Did any tips commenters offered on last month’s groceries post help? I still advise to try using cash for a month to see if that helps keep costs down. Also, what about cutting your cable? We did a couple years ago and don’t miss it (although honestly, $17 is a bargain). Regarding the 401K, I disagree with Arduous. Stopping it temporarily is a good thing to do in order to throw all that extra money at the debt. Then, when you’re out of debt, you can raise your contributions to a higher level. I reduced mine to 1 percent (just so the account wouldn’t close altogether), despite a company match of 6 percent. We’ll be out of debt next month, at which point we’ll raise it to a much higher level. Regarding the cats, maybe you could consider keeping the mama cat AND just one of her kittens. My though is, caring for two isn’t much harder or costlier than caring for one, and you’re sure to give them a much-needed good home. Just my thoughts.
AKB – Thank you! That’s great that you are keeping track and blogging about it 🙂
Amber – My health insurance is actually a little over $400/month. I was paying the bill a little late, but I received a nice reminder to pay by the due date. So, that’s why you see two $800 payments next to each other. The next time I have to pay the $800 (because it’s due every other month) will be in July.
Anonymous Writer – The company I work for has a 6% match. That’s what I signed up for, but there was a problem and they were accidentially taking out 7%. I had the choice to reduce to 6% or keep at 7% and I figured I’d keep it at 7% but that’s what I was used to. That’s another option too, to drop down to 6% or lower.
Kristina – We already have a dog and a cat that we’ve adopted through the years. When we first brought the momma in the house (before the babies), our resident cat and her did not get along. My male cat (fixed) also started spraying in the house after seeing her and that’s not good. So we stopped trying to get them used to each other and the momma and the babies live in our porch. One thought we had was to fix the momma once she’s done nursing and to keep her as an outdoor kitty. But that is really hard for me to do because as a child I’ve lost many kitties to fast cars.
Esther – We have auto insurance through MEEMIC. They have always had the best rates that I could find. I would love to get our home insurance through the same company, but MEEMIC does not insure homes older than 1950. My home is about 100 years old so I had to go with another company to insure it. BUT, I have not asked that company to give a quote for our auto insurance and see if there will be a multi policy discount. It’s difficult to do because we’ve dealt with an accident claim with MEEMIC and they were awesome to deal with. I don’t know anything about the other company in regards to accident claims.
Hazygrey – To be honest, I really didn’t want to take her in because of the cost…but as I was there when she was giving birth, I felt that I made the right choice. The momma has turned into the sweetest kitty. And you’re right…my son loves having the kitties around and one of them has turned into my little buddy. It will be hard to see them go.
MVP – Our gas costs are low because our car gets around 40 miles per gallon. I also work at home and the gas we do use is for the irregular driving my husband does for his side jobs/hobbies and for running errands. On a daily basis, we do not have any commute costs so that helps tremendously.
As for the groceries, we have really been trying to shun away processed foods as was suggested and make meals. It’s healthier and if you do it right it can cost less. I think the biggest thing that has affected our groceries is the fact that I am eating less! I do plan on doing more planning in regards to meals. I’ve been testing some foods/recipes to fit with my weight loss goal so we are undergoing a complete 180 with what we eat.
I believe that cash is a good suggestion, but I can’t do it. My husband is a great guy, but cash burns a whole in his pocket. If it’s there, he spends it on McDonalds or getting shakes. That’s the one thing I don’t track on here is the cash he comes across and spends because I don’t always know about it. He has a lot more control with using a debit card because he knows that I will see it when he spends money 😉
As for the cable, we have the basic cable (around 20 or so channels) so we can get at least the “local” channels and get ABC, Fox, CBS and NBC. Without the cable, we would have no TV at all because there are no TV stations close enough to pick up the signal for. We have discussed cutting the cable, but we’d really cut ourselves off from the world (less what we can see on the internet).
I didn’t even consider reducing my contribution for a while, versus stopping it completely like I was thinking about. Perhaps that is an option to reduce it to 1 or 2% until we can get in more steady income.
As always, thank you to everyone for your comments and suggestions!
Regarding your husband:
It makes me sad that your husband acts a little bit like an immature child regarding cash – especially given this herculean effort that you are making to get out of debt and to implement better money management. I know it’s hard to change lifelong behaviors, but grown people really should be able to implement impulse control over cash in the name of giving their children a bright financial future. I hope he knows it’s not cute of funny to hide spending from you and that even minor acts of dishonesty (or dishonesty by omission) can lead to money fights and lack of trust and respect. What a shame that he needs to be kept on debit cards to act like a responsible adult, but at least you are aware of this and can minimize the damage this way.
Regarding the momma cat:
Again, it’s so wonderful that you are doing this and that you’ve also provided a home for other animals in need over the years. How sad that your two cats won’t get along. I’m sure you know all about this since you’ve had cats before, but if you want to try introducing the cats one more time, there are great web resources explaining how to increase your chances for success. I had to do this previously with two cats I got at different times from a shelter. It was a week-long project of having them in different room, slowly introducing them to each other, having the new one in a cage for the old cat to smell in a “safe” setting, giving them treats and positive reinforcement when they were near each other, etc. But, eventually it worked beautifully. If you google the topic, you’ll find lots of advice about cat introductions. So, maybe it’s worth trying to introduce them one more time since it is sad to imagine your new cat being hit by a car outside or dealing with a cold winter. Good luck! And thanks again for at least giving the mom and her kittens a home for now!