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October Budget Update


Hi friends! Happy Monday!

Before we dive into the budget update from October, I wanted to share a picture of the famed wedding cake (discussed here) which I spent 9 hours of my life working on! Pretty impressive, right??

IMG_4946 IMG_4947

The skull bride and groom, as a fun nod to the fact that they married on Halloween. The bride bought the flowers pre-made from a baker (they’re made from sugar) and the cake is 100% us! She did each tier with a  different filling. The bottom was raspberry, the middle was lemon, and the top was coconut. The icing was a homemade vanilla and all was decorated with freshly shaved coconut. I can’t take much credit because the recipe and directions were all the bride’s. I simply helped where I could. Fun girl-bonding activity!

Now, onto the budget….

For your reference, here’s where I wrote about my planned October budget.

And, below, here’s what we actually spent compared to the planned budget:

Place Planned Budget Actual Spent
Rent 1055 1055
Electricity 241 241
Water 65 63
Natural gas 17 17
Sprint (2 lines) 114 114
Cable/Internet 100 100
Car Insurance 55 56
Health Insurance 350 350
Trash 35 35
Debt 1843 1752
Miscellaneous 300 412
Groceries 400 408
Baby Purchases 1200 1149
Gasoline 125 113
Saving for Irregular Expenses 495 495
Total Budgeted 6395 6360


Some things to note:

I had to make a lower debt payment to accommodate the overage in my miscellaneous spending. As a reminder, miscellaneous is broken down into 4 categories:

  • Entertainment: budgeted = $20; spent = $20
  • Eating out: budgeted = $100; spent = $109
  • Personal maintenance: budgeted = $30; spent = $0
  • Other: budgeted = $150; spent $283


My overage was mostly due to wedding-related items and, admittedly, a boss’s day gift I never mentioned here. A small minority was spent on necessities ($23 for new checks and $28 for cleaning supplies). The rest was split between some flowers I sent to my incredible boss at University A (the university where I teach online), a wedding gift, and other wedding “supplies” (I bought stuff for mimosas for the girls to enjoy pre-wedding, and I ended up footing the bill for some sandwiches pre-wedding as well).

I could have saved 50 bucks by not sending my boss flowers. During these lean times, that’s probably what I should have done. But I am really so incredibly grateful to my boss for connecting me with this position and I feel like I’ve really been blessed through this employment situation. It felt like a small token of my appreciation and one that I was happy to give. I guess the whole “gift-giving” thing opens up a can of worms. Throughout my debt reduction journey thus far I’ve been really good with scaling WAY back on the amount of giving I’ve done (and the dollar amount I would spend per gift) and I just didn’t hold back on this one. I’m conflicted because – on one hand I know I can’t afford $50 for flowers. On the other hand, it felt like an appropriate gift at the time and a small portion of my monthly salary. Plus I just got a raise. These are all justifications, I know, but I’m just trying to dig myself out of a hole a bit.

There’s really no other category of spending that is out of line with the original budget, so nothing more to comment on.

You’ll notice that I only ended up spending $6360, which leaves me with some surplus (Note: Remember that although I had only budgeted for $6395, I actually had $6410 to spend for the month – see here).

Since we live on last month’s income and we had $6410 for the month, I was left with an extra $50.

Rather than putting that extra $50 toward an additional debt payment at the end of the month, I decided to add it to our income to increase the amount we have to work with in November (foreshadowing……the $50 is going to be NEEDED for next month! Welp!). I’ll be back later with more on our planned November budget.

And one last parting photo of me and my girls at the family reception that was held on Saturday

IMG_4954In case anyone is curious, the girls’ dresses were a gift from their aunt and the clothes I wore (both for the wedding on Friday and the family reception on Saturday) were dresses that I’d already owned. Didn’t buy a single article of clothing for the event!


Knowledge versus Behavior


When I was an undergraduate, I remember taking a workshop on conservation education. Basically, the purpose was to teach people about conservation of natural resources: its importance, how to practice it, and how to spread it to others. One thing I remember learning in the workshop was in regard to recycling. Research has shown that you can teach people all about the impact that recycling can make and, after education, these people will express that they highly value recycling. BUT, if you actually observe these people, do their recycling habits (or lack thereof) actually change?

The answer is NO….usually.

Basically, studies have found that unless recycling is made EASY, that most people will continue to simply trash things. If, however, there is a recycling bin placed directly next to a trash bin, then they will indeed opt to recycle. But if the recycling bin is across campus they won’t make the effort to recycle their bottled water or old newspaper. They’ll simply chuck it in the trash. It’s easier.

I give this little anecdote to demonstrate that changing someone’s knowledge (by teaching them something new) does NOT equate to a change in behavior. The behavior is harder to modify. It has to be made easy.

Unfortunately, I have succumbed to the knowledge versus behavior problem this past month. Since starting blogging, I have learned quite a bit about my spending habits. I have worked diligently to change them. For the most part I have succeeded. But in the month of September??? Not so much.

I’ve already told you all about how I went way over budget with our grocery purchases. Why is this?

Well, I leaned back on grocery shopping like the crutch it’s always been. I have historically used grocery shopping as an easy “outing” with the girls. I feel like I’m being productive by buying things that we “need” and, at the same time, I’m getting the girls out of the house for a bit and using the time to serve as a distraction or you could even call it entertainment. I prefer to go to parks and have been making more park trips in the mornings, but its still dreadfully hot in the afternoons here in Tucson and the afternoons drag on and on and on.

The problem, of course, is that this means we end up buying all types of things that we don’t really need or things we could make do without. Then we wind up at the end of the month and I realize our grocery budget is beyond shot – it’s been blown out of the water!

So this broken record is probably getting a little old at this point, but something’s gotta change. I’ll brace myself for your groans and eye-rolls but here I go…..

…I’m going back to the envelope system.

Oh, the envelope system. My much loathed system of paying for goods.

Here’s what I’m going to change for the month of October: instead of actual paper envelopes for all my different spending categories, I’m going to focus solely on groceries and eating out. My other categories, including entertainment ($20 budgeted), personal maintenance ($30 budgeted), and other ($150 budgeted) have not been as big of a problem – I’ve never gone over in entertainment or personal maintenance since I started blogging!! And in the past it made me feel uncomfortable to carry so much cash. BUT, my wallet actually has 2 separate money tabs. I’m going to designate one as being for groceries and the other for eating out. This way I won’t be carrying paper envelopes, I’ll always have my money with me (instead of accidentally leaving an envelope at home), and I’ll be limiting my cash-on-hand to only 2 categories instead of 5.

Oh yes, this is happening. A modified envelope system is back! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Pssst:  I’m spending the weekend hanging with my family who is in town visiting! I’ll be back Monday with a full budget update from the month of September.

PS: Thanks to the reader whom, in my old money envelope posts, had given me this idea by saying that she simply used a regular wallet and labeled the tabs for different categories.