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Ashley’s November 2015 Budget Update


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


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’s September 2015 Budget Update


Things were pretty ho-hum in terms of spending and budgeting in the month of September. No spending was crazy or out-of-line with what would be expected. Here’s our budget from September:


Place Amount Spent
Rent 1200
Electricity 251
Water 60
Natural gas 34
Cell Phones (2 lines) 82
Cable/Internet 97
Car Insurance 117
Trash 35
Preschool 916
Gift-Giving 30
Personal Maintenance 14
Restaurants 105
Groceries 601
Gasoline 74
Household Goods 50
Clothing 81
Toddler purchases 0
Postage 14
Rainy Day Savings 225
Savings Goals 500
Debt Payments 2564
Total Budgeted $7050


Last month I’d reported issues with both my cable and cell phone bills. I was happy to report when both of those issues are resolved.

The $50 household goods charge was for all those Bath and Body Works candles I bought (remember?) And the clothing purchases still never did include those black pants I was after (in fact, I didn’t go shopping again for the rest of the month after that incident). But the first weekend of October I managed to score a really cute pair for 50% off at Banana. That place is becoming my gold mine! (side note: how is a plain pair of black pants “super cute,” you may ask? Aren’t’ they all rather plain? And the answer is no. The ones I got are adorbs. They’re ankle-pants, like the new kind that are in style now. I know that’s not necessarily great long-term since they’re likely to go in and out of style, but I lurve them! They’re super flattering, go with a ton of stuff, and I will get lots of wear out of them!)

Our rainy day savings was a little slim this month:  $200 toward our dental fund (in anticipation of hubs’ upcoming dental work needs) and $25 toward the girls’ college savings. Nothing else. I’ve really gotten a little too close to the line on our savings. I’ve been a little skimpy in favor of making larger debt payments. But this needs to stop.

We’ve got to beef back up our:

  • 3-6 month EF (which we depleted down to about $1,000 back in August and have never replenished)
  • car repair fund (which we always end up depleting everytime it gets to about the $1,000 mark. Right now we only have $75 in it!)
  • annual fees fund (which is just silly to neglect because these are known and expected expenses)

So those will be priorities in the coming months.

The $500 toward our savings goals represents the $500 funneled toward Cruise 2016 (only 6 more months until the sale date! We booked 12 months in advance so it feels like it’s really coming up even though its still half a year away!)

That’s it for this month!

How was your spending in September? Are you anticipating any big holiday spending in October? I’ve really been trying to keep my eyes peeled for possible Christmas gifts. I’d rather spread out the shopping a little instead of having it all concentrated in December!

Ashley’s August 2015 Budget Update


Awww, September! As much as I love August I welcome September like a breath of fresh air after the wicked heat of summer. Here in Tucson it’s still HOT (so don’t get me wrong). But we start to notice a cool down particularly in mornings and evenings and it becomes beautiful to hang out outside after dinner, letting the girls run around, enjoying a slight breeze, and chatting with hubs. Good times to look forward to as I welcome Fall weather with open arms!

In the meantime, here’s how our budget from August ended up shaping out:

Place Amount Spent
Rent 1200
Electricity 245
Water 53
Natural gas 17
Cell Phones (2 lines) 150
Cable/Internet 40
Car Insurance 118
Trash 35
Preschool 1116
Gift-Giving 85
Personal Maintenance 12
Restaurants 88
Groceries 566
Gasoline 86
Household Goods 93
Clothing 102
Toddler purchases 30
Rainy Day Savings 300
Savings Goals 600
Debt Payments 2204
Total Budgeted $7140


Things to note:

  • Increased rent: I wrote here about how our rent increased. This was our first month at the new rate.
  • Electricity: Still high as the sky, but in-line with last year’s August budget (August 2014’s electricity was $251, so this year we were slightly lower). We can just gear up for a high September electric bill, too, because its going to happen.
  • Cell phones: This category is a bit of a mess that will hopefully be straightened out in the coming months. Remember that we switched to T-Mobile from Sprint earlier this month to save some money (and it also came with a few additional perks, mentioned here). Well we got a ridiculously high Sprint bill after we cut our service ($250!!!) T-Mobile is supposed to credit our account for the equivalent amount so, in theory, we will have no cell phone bill for a few months until the credit has been run down. So I “cheated” a bit here. The full amount we paid was $250, but I put $150 in August and $100 in September to try to spread out the pain a little. It should work out since we’ll have no bill in September. This is something I’ll continue to monitor to make sure everything worked out in the wake of our switch.
  • Cable/Internet: This was a bit of a mess, too! Generally our bill is about $110/month. In August I received a bill for nearly 50% more than what I’d expected. When I called to ask about it I was told we’d been in some promotional package for years and it had finally expired so our bill would increase. I was not willing to pay a 50% increase so I tried to work with them to get us into a better package. Long story short, I had to make 3-4 calls and physically go into a Comcast store to have everything fully resolved. We should now be back in a plan that costs $100/month (probably closer to $110 when taxes are factored in), and we were given credits in August for all the hassle and headache. So this is a temporarily low bill and hopefully in September things should be back to normal in this category.
  • Preschool: This category is also a little lower than is normal. This is the amount we pay for the regular Monday-Friday preschool, but the normal day ends at 3:00pm. We pay extra to have the girls stay longer (hubs usually gets them at 4:00pm), but so far we have NOT been charged for the extra time they’re in school. This was the first month of preschool so I’m not sure what the billing cycle is yet for the extra time, but I know it’s charged separately from the regular bill so I anticipate it coming sometime soon.
  • Household Goods: This included a Costco haul with some paper products (e.g., toilet paper, tissues) and some cleaning supplies at the regular grocery store.
  • Clothing: I discussed how I was budgeting $100/month for new work appropriate attire. This month I got new shoes from DSW and a new bra from Victoria’s Secret (the last bra I bought was from when I was immediately post-partum/still breastfeeding, so I was in sore need of a new bra!)
  • Toddler Purchases: This is just from their Halloween costumes (I wrote about the great deals at Costco and they still have tons of costumes in my area.)
  • Rainy Day Savings: I put $300 toward different rainy day savings categories. This includes:  $75 (car repairs), $50 (travel/Christmas), $75 (health/dental/vision), $75 (annual fees), and $25 (Girls’ college savings). HOWEVER, I should also mention that I withdrew $307 from different savings funds (I keep all my savings in Capital One 360 due to their higher interest rate <refer a friend link). I withdrew $100 from health/dental/vision to pay for my contacts, like an idiot (because now I have insurance!!! I’m going to try to submit the receipt and see if I can be reimbursed). I also withdrew $207 from my annual fees fund to pay for my annual premium of life insurance.
  • Savings Goals: This is $100 for a Roth IRA and $500 for Cruise 2016.
  • Debt Payments: Still chugging right along with debt payments. This is slightly more than last month, but still right around our typical debt payment size.

Related to debt payments, I’ve made the executive decision to cheat a little bit on our “living on last month’s income” ideal. We’re still living on last month’s income, BUT September is the first month where I’ll earn double-income (from my part-time job in addition to my full-time job. Remember, I wasn’t paid from my part-time job in August due to regular schedule of payment).

Soooo, I’ve decided to allocate my regular full-time paycheck toward living on last month’s income (so it will go toward expenses incurred in October). BUT I’m going to keep my part-time paycheck for use during September to help speed up debt payments. I’m just REALLY itching to make some higher debt payments and it’s been a real bummer to have started this job nearly 2 months ago and not have made any really killer debt payments yet! Rather than waiting and putting that off until October, I’m going to dive in THIS MONTH with some higher debt payments by putting a portion of my part-time pay toward debt in September. Right now I’m thinking I may allocate 50% toward September and keep 50% allocated toward October. But I want to discuss it further with hubs to make a final decision. I just know that I’m itching to make some big debt payments and I can’t wait until October. Some of it is going down SOON!!!!

So that’s how August shaped up and some plans for how I plan to handle September’s debt.


Where are you in your debt repayment? How was your monthly budget in August?

Starting Jim’s Budget


1QT14 income 1QT14 spending


Before I start I just want to point out that this graph above me and the table that will be below this will not match up.  The reason for this the table reflects both my auto totaled out payment as well as my income tax.  Now the table below is My Income/Expenses Year to Date On Broad Categories.  The reason I putting this up here is to see where I can improve on the most.  I have printed out right next to me My Current Spending vs Average Spending where I compare this month to Sept. 1, 2013- Feb. 28, 2014.  So that will be the second table.  As I started doing the table, I don’t think I will be doing this table again, it is very strewed (I think that is the word I am looking for)

[table “4” not found /]

Let’s point out somethings to note.  The reason my Auto & Transport is so high in February, that is when I put the down payment on the Van.  For some reason I have putting gas in two categories Gas under Auto & Transport, and in Car & Truck (Business), I am pretty sure that this year has been all in the Business Category though.

In the Food & Dining, there is a category for groceries.  I put 95% of my groceries under the other shopping category simply because I buy all my HBA, grocery, and General Merchandise in the same trip.  The part that says Groceries is when I go to a grocery store, if we run out of something before the next shopping trip.

The Uncategorized in the month of February, was what it cost us for the repair of the busted radiator.

[table “5” not found /]

Now let’s break everything down a little bit.  The reason I think this is a little strewed, is because if you look at my uncategorized.  I don’t have many things uncategorized, but yet the Avg. Spending for Last Six Months were I made $915?  The only thing I really put in here that was uncategorized was my repair for the damage, my automobile totaled payment, and my income tax payment.  But this is for spending, so I am not sure what this is actually telling me.  I will have to do research.

So here is all my spending.  I do see some places I can drop to make some wiggle room, but the thing is.  Now that I have all this information compiled.  How do I go about making a budget.  Average everything together?  I am decent at doing a budget for my Monthly Utilities & Credit Cards.  But I really don’t know what to do with the rest…

Any suggestions?

Urge to Spend


This weekend has been full of urges to spend on various things.  Thankfully, Steve and I weren’t on the spending page at the same time so major spending was avoided.  We did spend some money on real food but that didn’t exceed the regular grocery budget.  It turns out that the boys’ schedule has them eating elsewhere for at least some of their meals this coming week…so we didn’t have to stock up on groceries for them!  While we could have saved that money I guess…we decided to explore “real” food with it instead.  Since Friday, we have followed a strict real food diet just to see what happens.  I don’t know if we will continue this and see it gain momentum or not…for now we are just going day-to-day.  Real food cooking is expensive!  So we didn’t go crazy but instead tried some new things.  The challenge has been good and in many ways I think it kept us–at least this weekend–from going out and spending money on things that we could argue we need…but when we step back and remember the true definition of “need”–we know we don’t need to spend.

My only commentary thus far on a real food diet is I get full faster and stay full longer.  Steve said it best when he noted that our hunger comes on in a gradual manner instead of going from “gee I might be hungry” hungry to “I’m going to eat my arm if I don’t get some food soon!” hungry in a matter of minutes.  There has to be money saving in that reality–although it doesn’t feel like it at first b/c making the real food is costly.

Another weekend observation…as we found ourselves discussing things we want to buy (we need a vacuum cleaner since ours completely died…we both need clothing and the clothing budget is still building…we really need new towels with our selection being well over 5 years old…I want that bread machine…just random stuff), it seemed that I kept being confronted with examples of excess.  From things on television to people in the neighborhood discussing that they have too much stuff to my own mother expressing that she wishes she had not bought so many things in this life—all unsolicited commentaries but oh so very helpful!  I love those moments as they unfold in front of my eyes and ears and I love that I “got it” this time.  I think those moments happened before my debt reduction plan too, but I wasn’t willing or able to hear them.

Resale Shops


I have always been a fan of resale shops and I’m lucky to live around several great ones.  I used to be much better about taking my own stuff to them for consignment but I’ve fallen off a bit on that project.  I had to stop going to them in the short term b/c I find way too much stuff that I must have!  Right now the only self control I can exercise is abstaining entirely!

Our baby girl will be receiving her First Holy Communion on Saturday the 21st.  This is such an exciting time!  BUT talk about the opportunity to spend a lot of money!  Sheesh. Ridiculous really. Good news is she is wearing a beautiful dress she wore in a wedding last summer and thankfully it was big on her at the wedding and now she’s grown into it!  This was a wedding on her Dad’s side and his family took care of the original purchase price so we are definitely getting their money’s worth out of it.  I searched at a few of the local kids’ resales for a headpiece of some sort as DD is a girly girl through and through.  No luck in town but I did find a great deal on ebay and it arrived today!  She already has shoes from an end of season clearance last year that I bought big…and so with those shoes the total spent on her ensemble is $20.  That’s not bad at all.

We’ll have about 12 people attending and we have budgeted for the meal after Mass.  In fact, I think we put it in the spreadsheet back in March. Once again, I am thankful for the very good friendship I have with my ex-husband.  We have agreements on everything really-time, money, etc.  We do not exchange child support b/c the children are with each of us for what works out to be a pretty even amount of time.  So, we always split events like this 50/50 which helps everyone’s budget.  For other religious events we’ve had meals at the house but with my remarriage that has become somewhat more difficult (ex-in-laws aren’t nearly as pleasant as their son) so we have to go to a neutral place in order for our daughter to be best served.  I DID spend some time thinking about how to forego the celebration—but we’ve done it for all the boys…so the guilt thing got me.  We are going very simple and I’ve pre-selected the menu so we KNOW what we are paying going in and people won’t be left to choose from the menu.  We will spend $250 (divide by 2) for a nice Italian meal at DD’s favorite restaurant.

WOW!  I think before I started thinking I would have spent closer to $500  just on my own (without counting what her Dad would have spent) on this event–using a credit card of course.  That’s progress.






Dear Pot,

Sorry about yesterday.



Of course, I chastise all the spenders on Valentine’s Day… and then hubby surprised me with chocolate covered strawberries and cake pops delivered to my office and a fabulous home cooked meal with ingredients not on my shopping list.

He didn’t use the credit card, we had the cash, but he still did some spending yesterday. As someone who doesn’t indulge in fancy, pricey deserts, I guarded them with all the aggressiveness of a dog with a prized bone.

He said he spent less than $50 and it was a partial celebration of our recent big debt payoff.

I gotta admit… it felt pretty good.

So yeah, you can spend… a little… if you pay off debt first. *wink*