I can summarize this month in one sentence: So far so good.
Its great to have 2 months where spending was pretty much on-track or even a little below expectations. It helps that the weather is nice, so utilities are lower than normal, and we can spend tons of time outside doing free stuff like walking and biking and hitting up different playgrounds with the kids. No temptation to mindlessly walk around a store, which would inevitably end up in unnecessary purchases. Seriously – ever since we started avoiding stores like Target and Walmart, and just stick to the general grocery store, our credit card bills have drastically dropped.
This month, we are trying another new graphing format. Since most of you responded that you like to see numbers, and we like graphs, we thought this would be a great compromise! Now that we have a full year (2015) of budget tracking while trying to find our ‘baseline’, we can look back and just try to improve a little bit with each month. We used to lump the miscellaneous spending with house spending, but since we are thinking of renting when we FI, it would be interesting to break out house costs and repairs separately from our general ‘shopping’ category. Having so many house repairs in 2015 is really opening our eyes to the cost of home ownership!
Of note – groceries are down and I believe this is due to early Saturday morning shopping. Our grocery store goes through and marks veggies 50% off when their “expiration date” is in one day. Not that the veggies look bad, but this is great for us, and it helps us eat our veggies more quickly so they just don’t sit in fridge and go bad. Yeah healthy!
Health & fitness is up because we registered for a half marathon and a 5k to be run in early April. Woohoo, 4.5 more weeks to get ready! Mr. SSC is doing the half marathon and since he’s never ran over 5 miles he did a “test run” last weekend to see how he felt running longer distances and he did 9 miles no problem. I tend to find that a little annoying really, that he is like, “I’m going to try and run 9 miles today” and then goes and does it. I’m doing the 5k to be there to support him and get some exercise too. Also there was a $60 copay for 2 months of Mrs. SSC meds. (no not crazy meds no matter what Mr. SSC says)
We did buy a new Roku. I love it for Amazon Prime TV watching for the kids. Too bad we can’t quit cable since the DVR is driving Mr. SSC crazy with it constantly downloading episodes we have already watched. I think he might spend about 5 min a day just ‘cleaning’ off the DVR from excess episodes. If only he could break his NFL football habit, we could completely cut cable.
We had a little more in categories like cash for travel money and pets (dog walker) to cover a trip to visit my mom for her birthday. Also, gifts are up for that reason, along with a multitude of children’s birthday parties. I think we’re at 4 for the year already. I did get wise and just bought a bunch of the same fun and educational gifts for the next round of 3 year old birthdays in March, so we are stockpiling gifts when we see them on sale. I figure this is a good strategy to combat the legions of classmate’s birthdays that always pop up with only 10 days warning. I have decided that $10-15 seems reasonable to spend on a classmate’s gift – what do you all think – are we being cheap?
Its bonus & raise season down here in Oil & Gas country. Unsurprisingly, no raise for Mr. SSC for the second year in a row, and they canceled his bonus (which is a HUGE part of his pay). His company has been hinting that they may do some sort of stock bonus – details TBD, of course. I on the other hand got a whopping $300 raise. I worked it out to 14 cents/hr. I think I got higher raises when I worked the storeroom at Macy’s in high school. But, they did take away a 3% retention incentive… so I am pretty much making less dough than last year. Oh well. C’est la vie. I did get a partial bonus, so that was an unexpected plus in this layoff environment. We are just a little disappointed because if we had both gotten normal bonuses that would have been about a year worth of FIRE expenses we could save.
Beyond that, our February was pretty vanilla, which I’ll take any day when referring to budgeting and dealing with “where did our money go?” No major purchases seen on the horizon, and we’ll just keep tracking and saving and counting down days…