Slowly Sipping Coffee

February 2015: Our money went where?

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…

At least we didn't spend all our money on stickers and bubblegum!

At least we didn’t spend all our money on stickers and bubblegum!

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.

A dog's love is priceless

A dog’s love is priceless

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?

17 thoughts on “February 2015: Our money went where?

  1. Steve Adcock

    Losing a dog certainly isn’t easy, and I bet anything that you had for dinner that night probably wouldn’t have tasted all that great.

    Our February was fairly decent. Saved over 54% of our take home income, which is a new record for us. Barely missed the 70% total savings rate mark which we’ve been trying to hit. 67% is so close!

    No new discoveries this month. Just another month of chugging along the path to jobless bliss! 🙂

    1. Mr SSC

      Wow! that is an impressive number to save! We aim for over 50%, but this month I didn’t calculate it – I thought it would be cheating, since Mr SSC got his bonus, and we are investing it!

  2. Tawcan

    Very sorry to hear about your loss of Harley. Losing a family pet is always tough. I’m not surprised that the pizza tasted horrible that night.

  3. Mrs. Maroon

    Hate to hear about your puppy. We had some pretty tough out of the ordinary expenses for the month too. I’ve been putting off tallying it all up because I’m scared of the number!

    1. Mr SSC

      Yeah – the one-off type expenses really make budgeting difficult and mess with a more monthly view. I suppose the important thing is to try and have them average out over the year 🙂

  4. Abigail @ipickuppennies

    Our major issue is home repairs. Our home is about 45 years old, and the previous owners did a lot of self-repair. So we’re slowly having to fix that. In Decembe, it was the water heater dying (right after we bought a dishwasher, of course). In January we finally got a gap fixed in our fence by just extending the masonry wall. In February we had to get one fan replaced and one installed in our bathrooms PLUS yard stuff PLUS gate doors. March sees an HVAC unit installed for the in-laws in the guest house.

    Makes me want to weep. Hopefully, we’ll be done on bad repairs for awhile (not that we’re that lucky, but a girl can dream) because we need to save for the big cost of oral surgery later this year.

    After that’s dealt with, we’ll focus on building up savings and throwing a LOT more money into IRAs.

    1. Mr SSC

      We have been lucky to live in newish homes… but they don’t have the charm of older homes! Mrs SSC used to live in an older house that had lots of previous owner repairs done, that were more along the lines of quick fixes then true repairs. I don’t envy your problem!

  5. Gen Y Finance Guy

    As I have been putting together my February report, I realized that I will be plagued by ‘one time’ expenses for Feb through Apr.

    However, I am still very confident that we will reach out goal of increasing our net worth by $70,000 this year.


    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      That is awesome! We have car insurance payments coming up in May, and then a large medical bill in June… sigh… but hopefully nothing else unexpected!

  6. Mrs. Frugalwoods

    I’m so sorry to hear that your dog passed away :(. They’re such important parts of our families–you have my deepest sympathies.

    Random question: do you include daycare in your FIRE estimations–as in, will you be paying for daycare after early retirement? Just curious if your kids’ll be old enough not to go or if you’ll be keeping them at home. Thanks!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      No, we do not include daycare! Let’s see, out youngest will be about 6 years old when we FIRE. So she should be in elementary school then. We do include about $200 a month when the kids are younger to pay for clothes/school supplies/activities. I have no idea if that is enough 🙂 Then, when the kids are teenagers we add another couple hundred a month for those years!

  7. DebtFreeJD

    When we first got a dog, someone told us “Dogs make a house a home.” And it’s true. As long as we plan on living in a home, we plan on having a dog. (However, we don’t need to add a special line item for dogs, since Mr. DebtFreeJD — an academic — plans on retiring around the ripe old age of 86, once they take away his office and give it to a younger professor).

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I totally agree. One of my dream jobs is to be in academics. I was just telling Mr. SSC last night, that once the kids are old enough – in middle or high school, I might try to get a part-time teaching gig at a college – and then do that until I’m 102.

  8. Jason

    We lost our dog of 16 years in September and promptly got another rescue a month later. Like you I think we will always have dogs. And I need to put in a specific item in our budget for our dog.

    Good luck on the credit card savings. I try to put every expense on our card and pay it off every month, but I find myself spending more than I want. Not sure if that is because of the card or expenses coming up that we don’t anticipate (e.g. tires, etc).

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