Slowly Sipping Coffee

Feb 2016: Our money went where?

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.

Feb16This 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…

16 thoughts on “Feb 2016: Our money went where?

  1. Erik @ Hippies de Land Rover

    Hey guys, it’s nice to hear you made it this month too! I can see you have day care as a BIG expense too, just like us, we spend $1,100 for mini HdLR. and haven’t figured out how to crack this expense.

    I’m a runner too, good luck with your training! let us know the results!


    1. Mr SSC

      Oh man, daycare is a biggie! It still doesn’t pay out to have one of us home though, boo…
      Hopefully this time next year Mrs. SSC will be a full-time homebody or have some side gig going, but we should be able to drop part/most of our daycare costs. Our youngest seems to enjoy the social aspect, so we would probably still o at least part time with her so she could still get that aspect of it, but no more daycare costs for our oldest since he’s in school next fall. yeah!

      As far as running, I ran 5 miles last night, and when I input my time, I realized I shaved off 5 minutes from that same route when I ran it 5 weeks ago! Woohoo! I’m pretty slow, so it just went from ~10 min/mile to ~9 min/mile, but I did it comfortably, so I was pretty stoked about that!

    1. Mr SSC

      I swear they have better social lives than us. Yet, we even have trouble finding parents to hang out with at other times, when we do go to these functions. It’s frustrating, but soon they’ll be into other more social things I’m guessing and we can make friends that way?
      The one couple we do hang out with the most, is moving to Spokane in a month or so, for a new job, so we’re back to almost no social life. 🙁

  2. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure

    I always buy a whole bunch of toys at after clearance christmas sales that work for all age groups – board games are always good for anyone… then we shop the closet for last-minute birthdays. And I definitely don’t spent more than $10 on those (because, yes, I am cheap, I suppose… but usually because we’re getting toys at 70% off, so $10 would be quite a fancy toy and we don’t want to go TOO crazy!). I love the charts as well!

    1. Mr SSC

      That’s a brilliant idea, I don’t know why we hadn’t thought about it. Maybe just with the crush of the holidays or something, and not thinking that far ahead. The birthdays seem to have really taken off this year though, so maybe that’s it?
      I see your point, even if it’s only $10, but the original value was closer to $70, then yeah, score one for that kid getting the present, lol.

  3. Our Next Life

    I like the new graph format! That’s so cool that you have enough data to compare to average. Since Mr. SSC was kind enough to convince me it’s worth it to hire a maid, I will now return the favor on why you can handle cutting the cord. We are big NFL people too, but have been cable-less for more than four years now. And we’re still alive! First, your Roku has CBS Sports built into it, so you can get any games that CBS is playing for free. Second, bunny ears will get any broadcast games (Fox, NBC, etc.). For any ESPN games that you simple must watch, there’s always the sports bar. We’ve nursed a $5 beer for three hours plenty of times to watch the game for cheap. 🙂 And we’re pretty sure that a few $5 beers over the years have saved us about $3000… totally worth it.

    1. Mr SSC

      It is nice having that data to look at and say – yep, this was a pretty standard year, so it should be a good benchmark. Except for home repairs, good grief let’s hope that’s not a standard year for home repairs….
      I did not know about the CBS Sports in the Roku – great info! I think we may try the whole cord cutting in a few more months when our contract is up with Direct TV. I was thinking last year that it was kind of nice when the games went down to just the weekend. It was like I got back all this time that had been spent on football. For instance, now games are on Thursday night, 2 early (9am) Sunday morning games per season, Sunday all afternoon, Sunday night game, and then Monday Night Football. It’s pretty ridiculous.

      Yes, there are some shows I like to watch, but I’m sure I can find other ways to fill my time than just watching tv. To force that issue I took advantage of a 50% off sale and signed up for 3 months of online lessons for the dobro. Now that money is involved, I will feel forced to not waste it – especially since it’s from my allowance. 🙂 I thought, why wait until I’m not working to get serious about learning a new instrument. it’s been hanging on the wall for years now, with just occasional bouts of playing around with it. 🙂

      1. Elephant Eater

        I was always a big sports junkie and I would agree now two years into being cable free that cutting the cord was the best thing we ever did. I am also a big football fan but we get all local games on free tv and plenty of other pro and college games. If there is a game I must see, agree that a sports bar once in a while is a much cheaper option or a great excuse to hang out at a friend’s house. I found that I don’t miss the other sports that I constantly was watching simply b/c they were there and now use that time much more productively. Other than sports, there is really no reason to pay cable or satellite prices as there are far cheaper options or better yet, do something other than sit in front of the tv (though I admit I wish I could do a better job of taking my own advice on that one as we still watch too much tv even w/o cable).

        1. Mrs SSC Post author

          I like all this feedback we are getting to cut cable! I just feel there is so much wasted time just sitting around watching tv because it is the easy thing to do. There are better and more fulfilling ways to relax.

    1. Mr SSC

      Great question! When we first purchased a Roku, it was back in 2011 maybe, and the choices were between Roku, and Apple TV if I remember correctly. Google chrome may have had something but it didn’t get great reviews. At that time, we liked the diversity of content Roku had over Apple TV, and since we were Amazon Prime, then we had access to their stuff as well. Also, we could get the Roku for $70 instead of $100 for Apple TV option. Jump forward 4 years, and our Roku was getting slow, needing more reboots, and getting to be a pain at times. We figured since we like all of the content with it, and could replace it for the “newer, faster, improved” model for $100 then why not?
      To be honest, I think what spurred it was a sale offer getting emailed to Mrs. SSC in timely fashion around a “not working so great” episode. We noticed in store that the everyday price was only $5 more than the “sale price” she got from emailed to her from who knows where. So we got it. It was way more stick with what we know and works for us, vs me going online and researching if Google Chrome has better options, or the Fire TV would be just as good, or anything else.
      We stuck with what we liked and it works great for us. Not that we subscribe to Hulu, but you can access that, Netflix, amazon prime content, evidently CBS Sports, and lots of other stuff we probably haven’t even explored yet.

  4. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor

    Have fun with your races! My husband is also like that about running. He will not run at all, and then sign up for a race (never a half marathon yet, though I’m sure he could) and finish well. They say your “fitness history” really impacts what comes easily to you. Maybe it’s all that running he did playing soccer growing up.

    Anyway, great month!

  5. Lynn @ Encore Voyage

    Ooohhhh I’m glad I found your blog, because I’m gonna LOVE following your progress as you head to your own Encore Voyage! We ended up on a similar path a couple of years ago, sans kids, and a little less by choice, and we’re having a great time! It was scary as hell, more fun than we’ve ever had, and we’ve learned a lot! Hubs used to work for a geo-tech firm…as an architect! We used to call him, “the voice of chaos in a sea of reason!” I hope you’ll come check us out, I’d like to get to know you!

    1. Mr SSC

      Haha, I still reminisce about my geotech days getting to be outside occasionally, deal with problems that come up, but mainly getting to drive all over the mountains of CO helping people build stuff – correctly. 🙂
      I’ll have to check out your blog, sounds like some good reading. Thanks for stopping by!

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