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Hope’s Budget – Almost Empty Nest version

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It looks like the last time I sat down to create a budget was fall of 2022. Boy, it’s been a roller coaster ride since then. For this go around, I tried to be exhaustive and super detailed in my review. I guess it’s part of my review and purge stage of life where I am working to rid myself of things, including financial line items that are no longer serving me. With that in mind and without further ado, this is my first draft of my 2023 budget. I do not anticipate this will actually take affect until mid-January, latest February. (See my notes and thoughts below.)

As I mentioned previously, I am shuttering my consulting company for the time being. (This still feels very, very weird but takes such a load off. For the first time in, well forever, my focus is not divided.) And my current contract job is not a long term option so I know it will be coming to an end, just not sure when. I am beginning to job hunt with a pretty intent focus.

That being said, I have based by budget on my current W2 income with anticipation that my next role will either match or exceed my current salary. Take home is right at $7,280.

Spending CategoryMonthly Amount
Mortgage650
Utilities - Water, Gas, Electric, Trash
300
Auto - Gas/Main
240
Auto Insurance
650
Groceries (includes pet food)400
Gym (beg. Jan)
26
Storage65
Spending
100
Savings
Giving (going for 10%)
150
Pandora
5
Netflix
19
Dogs (rolling)
100
Business (now Personal)
Internet - Home65
Cell Phone415
Annual/Quarterly Payments
Life Insurance (Qtr)
23
Birthdays (6 family members * $200/12 months)
100
Amazon Prime (annual)12
Walmart+ (annual)
9
Pest Control (Qtr)
30
Debt Payments
Student Loans306
Medical Bills250
Savings & optional
General Savings
150
Travel Savings250
Christmas Savings150
Car Savings (???)250
Clothing (rethinking this line item)
100
Monthly Total$4,815

Highlights

Optional but priority

Gym membership

Every remembers my last gym membership. What a waste of money! But this is different and the reason is twofold. And it will be new come January.

First, Gymnast and I began walking every day this past fall. We grab two of our dogs and go walk a lap or two around a small like (about 3/4 mile lap) before work. That has been wonderful for my health both physical and mental (his too.) But I am ready to take it up a notch. This is motivated by my breakup and more importantly by my travel goal. I cannot travel well if I am out of shape, lethargic and don’t move well or regularly. And travel is my #1 goal for the next couple of years. Within reason. So he and I have committed that as soon as we return from New York (our family Christmas present,) we are going to add gym time together to our schedule. I’ve got him for 7 more months so I need him to keep me motivated.

Secondly, part of my traveling plan is road trips. And while I am not a camper, I am not opposed at all to staying in my car at rest areas or other safe spots on occasion. Having this “nationwide” gym membership will give me somewhere to not only work out during those trips but also shower 🙂 Very important. If I don’t end up using that side of things, once Gymnast moves away, I will drop the membership level to the $10 version so I can just continue to work out when I am home. Crossing my fingers that I establish a habit before he moves away and keep it up myself.

Biggest drain

Auto insurance

Our auto insurance is insanely expensive. But with two teenage drivers and one recent wreck (Gymnast totaled a car last December) there is not anything I can really do about it. We did all install the safe drivers app our insurance company offers. After 6 months, based on our scores, we may be able to save up to 10%. Based on our current status, our discount will be 7%. But it won’t kick in until March.

Business, now personal

Now that I am shuttering my business, I am evaluating the costs that have traditionally been covered by my “business” and will now need to be covered by my personal income. I have moved the most basic that I KNOW I will continue and will use 2023 to either cut additional costs or to move them over to personal income. (Unless sometime, I decided to revisit restarting my own consulting firm.)

Cell phone

I continue to cover three of the kids’ lines. The rule of thumb was that I would cover phone cost until they were done with schooling. However, Beauty has been taking “breaks” from school and Gymnast doesn’t have plans to go to school now that he has completed high school. So what do I do here? Trying to figure out the new normal. And cut some costs.

Quit it? Membership fees

Currently, I pay for a few memberships that we share. But I am considering cancelling these in the coming months. These include:

  • Netflix – this is how I watch TV when I do watch. And I think most of the kids use this as well. But they keep raising the price. I am considering cancelling at the end of “winter.” That way I give the kids some notice, and keep it through the season that keeps us inside for the most part. Monthly cost savings $20
  • Amazon Prime (paid annually) – up until these past few months, I would say this has been worth the investment. I kept ALOT of items on autoship and shopped pretty regularly this way. Things like dog food, paper towels, toilet paper, other household sundries, and almond milk. But I’ve been cutting back significantly because frankly our usage of things has dramatically been reduced. While the girls still do come “shop” at mom’s house, it’s far less than it used to be. I just don’t think the price tag is worth it anymore. Thoughts? Monthly cost savings $12
  • Walmart+ – I signed up for this for the first time this fall. It’s only $99 but I just don’t think it’s worth it. I love the shop online and pick up at the store option, but that’s free. Signing up gave me free delivery, which I have used, but I’ve not been so impressed that I think it’s worth the cost. Pick up works just fine for me. There are other benefits for it, but frankly, I haven’t used them. I have several more months before it will renew. But right now, I think this one will get cancelled as well. Monthly cost savings $9

Savings

Travel savings

Anyone who has read BAD knows my love of travel. But for YEARS, the travel has been for kids’ events (gymnastics and robotics competitions) or visiting family (TX, GA, VA). But now it’s my time. My goal is two fold. I want to take a couple of larger international trips and see some cool places. And then I want to road trip some. For 2023, my goal is to take 2 international trips, maybe a week each. And then to do a longer drive across America trip in the spring. Timing is important. Right now, Gymnast is at home, so I would not have to pay to board or have someone care for the dogs. That is super expensive and quickly deters me from traveling too much. I am still working out what this budget item will look like. But I imagine the bulk of it will be spent in the first half of the year. This budget covers through August so the line item is higher with that tighter time frame than it will be in future plans.

Christmas Savings

This may be combined with my travel savings. The kids and I and I are super excited about our New York trip this year. (The trip is my Christmas present to the family.) And, of course, I had to tell them all early so everyone could get the time off work. My thought is to continue this as the new Christmas tradition…giving a trip or experience instead of presents. Now, don’t get me wrong, I did buy a few things, but nothing like normal.

Car Savings

This is new. And not necessary. But I am working on my three year plan since my break up. And this would be a part of that so I’ve added it in. I don’t know if it will remain. But I’m leaving it for now.

Clothing

I’ve provided the kids $300 twice a year for clothes while they were in school. This is the first year that I didn’t do that like clockwork. And I think it’s time to end of life this cost. However, I do want to ear mark some money to help out of the kids, all of them, from time to time. And I’m not sure how to budget for that. Like the time, I want to buy one of the twins new tennis shoes or pants. Or the time I take Princess grocery shopping when I visit her at school. Or when I stocked Beauty’s kitchen when she moved into her first apartment. I don’t know, just spit balling. What do you think? Does this need to be a line item? Or do I just bump my personal spending item and pull it out of there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


13 Comments

  • Reply Steveark |

    I’m not suggesting you are doing anything wrong at all, you do you. I am curious about when you think your kids will leave the nest and move out? Since they are teens that may be awhile, but they’ll be fully legal adults before you know it. It will greatly impact your budget when it happens with a huge reduction in insurance, cellular, groceries, etc.

  • Reply Klm |

    How is your retirement savings going? I hate to say this, but I would reduce your charitable giving and ensure you are paying down debt and saving for retirement. You readers know you have a big heart—maybe you could give of your time rather than your dollars?

    • Reply Cynthia |

      Volunteering is a great suggestion for Hope, especially in this period of transition for her. It would be a great way to meet new people.

  • Reply Laura |

    I know I’m repeating what other have said, but you really should be saving something for retirement.

  • Reply Lisa |

    I feel as though the Walmart+ is not really worth it unless you use the delivery often enough to off set the cost. you can get Paramount+ for free, and a possibly a deal on spotify when you have the Walmart account. also save 10 cents per gallon off gas at a few gas stations. Since you already have the membership, you may as well take advantage of it.
    I have three children, and the oldest moved out in 2021. Prior to him moving out, he was responsible for his phone payment, clothing, excess purchases, his cat’s needs, put 10% into his savings account, and paying for the gas to and from work as public transportation is not an option here.
    When he moved out he was cut off from our finances. This does not mean we wouldn’t help him if an emergency happened, but he’s out there adulting without our financial help… we do let him raid our fridge on his visits sometimes. 😉
    I know all children have different needs, but it really does sound like yours are starting to need your finances less and less. Good job!

  • Reply Cecilia |

    I agree about retirement savings, and also shop around, you can probably get a better cell phone plan!

  • Reply Walnut |

    Since you’re scaling back your freelance work, I’d split your expenses into fixed/mandatory and discretionary and make sure your emergency fund is in good shape. You have plenty of take home income to work with, so think about how to make that work for you. Not sure what “general savings” is and why it’s different from the extra $2k or so from your paycheck that’s nit accounted for?

    And again, look at MVNO’s for cell phones. If you’re paying off devices in that phone bill, then consider it debt and pay them off!

    • Reply Hope |

      Not sure what you mean by $2K of my paycheck not accounted for? I may have forgotten to update Total line in budget…but the income and spend match almost to the dollar, will revisit and update.

      General savings is essentially my EF. While it exceeds the goal of $10K, just keep adding to it to stay in the habit.

  • Reply Angie |

    I’m still confused as to how your cell phone bill is so high. Do you have multiple financed phones or something? I guess before you justified it as a business expense with unlimited ipad data or something. But there is no need for that going forward. You can hotspot off very reliably off your phone nowadays. I’ve taken Teams calls with one bar of service from my car in the middle of nowhere!

    I pay $35/month for Verizon month to month service. There are a lot of monthly plans in the $40 or less range that don’t require a commitment. You can even swap networks whenever you want to get better deals or to get discounted/free phones. I think this should be a high priority to wean off as contracts/phone payments end. Even with 6 lines there is no reason to be paying this much anymore. You can get good value phones for $350 or so upfront.

    • Reply Hope |

      Yes, unfortunately, in our tiny town cell service is spotty at best so we are limited in options. I have put the ipads and hotspot on pause to see what comes next which means the bill should drop a bit while I make some decisions. Total we have 4 phone lines, 2 ipads and 2 watches. Definitely a place I should be able to make some changes.

      • Reply Angie |

        That’s great that it’s in the front of your mind. Even keeping the kids on, I think you can slowly widdle it down as payments and contacts end and cut your bill in half. I also wouldn’t make assumptions about the coverage. There’s really only two networks in the US. The MVNO companies just pay to use Verizon or ATT infrastructure so they still have the same coverage. Once you know which one works best in your area just choose a cheaper provider on that structure. You just may be at lower speeds if the network is crowded (really only affects populated public spaces).

  • Reply Katie |

    That cell phone bill is shocking. We are in a rural area and have 5 lines and a watch and our bill is $215. That would be the first thing I’d look at. Also, I would call every single auto insurance company and see if you can knock that down too.

So, what do you think ?