Howdy! Well, as I may have mentioned before one of my goals for this year is to do a better job tracking our expenses, and to post a monthly summary. February was a gnarly month for us, we were way over budget with several ‘one-time’ costs.
Our February goal was to knock down our credit card spending by 5% off the January bill. We failed. Miserably. Really miserably. So miserably I am embarrassed to write this. We failed by over 200%. We spent $3371 on that darn credit card (details below) So, our new March goal is to hit our February goal of limiting credit card spending to less than $1645.
Our First Quarter goal was to buy only consumables (food, diapers, shampoo…) – January was a success, February – not so much. We found a great sale on clothes and shoes for the kids at Kohl’s, so we spend $41. Although, at the rate toddlers grow, I think that kid’s clothes could almost be considered a ‘consumable’! We also bought some mulch and plants for our yard – but chalked that up to home maintenance. I’m not as into making the yard look pretty as Mr SSC, but some things aren’t worth the argument – its all funny money, anyways.
Our yearly savings goal – I’m still thinking this was a crazy goal, but if we include our pre-tirement savings, 401ks, and the kids’ 529s we are at 15.5% of our goal, which puts us a little behind for the year, but Mr. SSC’s bonus just got paid, and Mrs. SSC’s is paid next month, and we plan to invest the majority of hose bonuses. Plus, we are expecting miniscule raises (but its better than nothing) so it may help us get a few hundred extra invested each month. Daycare went down by about $10 a month, as baby girl is now in a bigger kid class, so there is another $50/month freed up to invest.
Now on to the details – what did we spend our money on in February 2015? Why did we fail so badly??? I mean – the month was only 28 days long – that is three whole less days to hemorrhage money! Well, here’s those couple of one-time costs the popped up…
1) travel = $1361 *I bought tickets for me and James to go to both DC and NY later this year. Honestly, now that the kids are getting older, travel is more fun than it used to be with babies.
2) pets = $341.90 *One of my darling dogs, Harley, was diagnosed with cancer a few months back, and she passed away early this month. It was devastating. This also led us to a revelation that Mr. SSC and I will always own dogs. Previously, I had not included a ‘pets’ line item in our FIRE calculations – but this has now been added. I also spent some extra money this month spoiling my other dog, who lost her best friend and litter-mate after 14 years.
3) Pizza hut = $16 *We did not feel like cooking, or really even eating the day Harley passed. We splurged, and the pizza tasted horrible. We should’ve just had saltines and peanut butter.
4) car maintenance = $230 *Tire issues on Mr. SSC’s car. It happens, I accept cars cost lots of money. It sucks, but we have long commutes so that we can live in an awesome neighborhood for us and our kids.
5) spring yard upkeep = $151.62 *Mulch, some new flowers, and I’m sure some other odds and ends from Lowes. Mr. SSC takes a lot of pride in having a nice looking yard, and I usually temper most yard purchases, but a couple times a year you have to leak a little dough so the neighbors don’t complain!
6) Groceries went up a little bit (~$100) because my mom visited us for almost 2 weeks. Having her around is well worth the price! Some of that cost might be the extra wine Mr SSC drank to survive that long with an in-law around (just kidding, Mr. SSC might love my mom more than me!)
Our usual costs were on par – most of the remaining money went to the mortgage and daycare. Like I did last month, I tried to estimate our FIRE costs based on January & now February spending. That magical number is now $56k, much higher than the $44k we predicted based on January spending. Plus we would still need another $4-5k for taxes. Sigh. But we don’t spend over $1000/month on travel all the time, so over the year I suspect the costs will average out! And, in all our goal is to spend a total of $60k a year in pretirement – including all those kid costs and taxes, so we aren’t doing too horribly.
So that was our February! How did yours go? Did you identify any issues with your budgets, or make any FIRE-estimating new discoveries?