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January 2015: Our money went where???

One of my goals for this year is to do a better job tracking our expenses, and to post a monthly summary (you know, for accountability and all that!).  So here it goes…

We set up a couple goals at the beginning of the year. Our plan is to have a monthly, quarterly, and yearly goal.  Our January goal was to watch 50% less TV.  And we are proud to say we succeeded!  We even made some charts to track it on the fridge.  Technically, Mr SSC went a little bit above his goal, but only because of NFL Playoff games… and we can be lenient on that.  Without football, he would’ve been drastically below his goal.  Honestly, though, I don’t know that we really got to spend much more time doing hobbies and such which is what we were hoping when we set this goal. But, I do feel like I got to bed early, and got to read more books than is normal, which was nice, and Mr SSC got to practice his dulcimer and banjo more.  If I was to do the tv challenge again, I think I would structure it to be something like no tv on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and just declare full out ‘no TV’ days.

Our First Quarter goal was to buy only consumables (food, diapers, shampoo…) – so far we are on track!  We did buy James a $1 book…but maybe I’ll cheat and chalk that up to ‘Education’! I should mention that this doesn’t count our allowance – Mr SSC and I can still buy whatever we want with our allowance money.

Our yearly savings goal – Yeah, I think I was crazy when I set this.  This includes our taxable savings (aka pre-tirement money), college savings and 401k.  But, we are 8.2% of the way to our goal. So we are on track…

For our February goal, we plan to cut credit card spending by 5%.  So in January we spent $1735 on our credit card, which means our February goal is to spend less than $1645.  Can we do it? YES WE CAN!  Go Team SSC!!!

Now on to the details – what did we spend our money on in January 2015?   I could sum it up inJan15spend 2 items – mortgage and daycare!  We spent a total of $7749.  But mortgage and daycare were 48% of that.  For fun (yeah, I think this is fun!) I calculated what our FIRE spending would have been if we were FI… so I took out mortgage and daycare, added in health insurance premiums, and estimated house tax and insurance, and car insurance…. And our FIRE needs would have been $3700 this month – for a yearly need of about $44,400 (plus another $4000 or so for Federal and State taxes). Our goal is to pretire on about $55,000 a year, so we are roughly on target, although there will be other costs, like vacations, I’m not accounting for.  My hope is that by tracking expenses for a full year, I’ll have more confidence that I am not forgetting some one-off items.

I also tracked our grocery spending this month, and it is quite an improvement on last October.  I’ve made a table below.  Honestly, I don’t know why fruit and veggies are so much less – my thinking is that I don’t like the seasonal fruit as much in mid-winter as what was available in the fall, so I bought less (I am a berry addict).  We did ditch drink mix, and now brew fresh decaf mint iced tea every day, as we mentioned in our October grocery recap.  Adult snacks was a fail. Mr SSC loves his chips and salsa, and I love dark chocolate and pretzels. Whatever – we got to live a little!!


One issue that did pop up here was the kids snacks… Whoa!  That is $28 of fruit snacks, applesauce, and cereal bars.  So, I realize I can make my own applesauce – I’m not 100% sure that will save money though, since applesauce is pretty cheap at our grocery.  I’ve seen some recipes online for fruit leathers – so maybe I can try that instead of fruit snacks.  And cereal bars are a source of tension in my house.  I am not a fan – they have more sugar than cereal, so not super healthy, but the kids love them.  So, being an awesome mama, I make the mini-muffins, muffins shaped like trains or bugs or animals, and the kids are not impressed.  Plus, muffins seem to crumble easily and make a mess.  I’ve tried densifying the muffins, to be more like a banana bread consistency, and still – no joy.  The kids don’t like granola bars too much, which would be easy for me to make.  It is just something about those Nutrigrain bars that they love.  Please!  Does anyone have ideas?

So that was our January!  How did yours go? Did you do something that made you proud, or identify a stumbling block?

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

  1. Mrs. Maroon

    Ohhhh the woes of day care!! But all in all I think your month looks great. I totally agree that the snacks and convenience items are the black hole of grocery spending. But how can you not celebrate a reduction of $100? I vote that it’s a win!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Seriously! I just look at the chunk of our budget that goes to daycare, and am so grateful we have awesome jobs to cover that huge expense.

  2. EurFI

    I see the same pattern regards to fruit spending. During the summer we spend much, much more (a lot goes to strawberries, cherries and asparagus).

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Oh, I love cherries so much! But they have such a short ‘affordable’ season! And I have been known to hide raspberries from my children, so that I can eat more.

  3. Tawcan

    Interesting that you’re spending way less on fruits and veggies. Hopefully you’re still getting the same amount of fresh produce in your everyday meals. Certainly don’t want to save on grocery only to end up buying more processed food and having negative affect in your overall health.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Ah – no need to worry! We still eat a ton of fruits and veggies everyday. I have a tendency to eat a bag of frozen veggies for lunch, and an apple for dessert! Yum!

  4. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom

    Go Team SSC!

    My only suggestion for replacing Nutrigrain bars would be to substitute with something they like even better for a while. Like cookies. Then make healthier cookies when they’re not looking. I’m not very good at the heathly eating stuff.

    Seeing daycare as the biggest wedge on your pie chart is pretty shocking. Charts!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I tried making some nutrigrain bars from scratch – and it didn’t go too badly. I left out the jelly part, since baby girl tends to get it all over everything. They don’t love them as much as the store bought ones. But I like your idea about cookies. I could probably whip up some super healthy oatmeal style cookies, and they would be a good consistency for a snack and freeze well… GREAT IDEA!!!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Eating out can be such a drain! That’s why we relegated it to our ‘allowances’. So, now, if one of us wants to eat out then it comes from our personal stash of money and not some nebulous ‘general fund’ where we don’t feel the hit at all. I know our allowances seem big, but they cover almost everything not mandatory – clothes, shoes, books, entertainment, eating out, hobbies, travel with friends, even gifts to one another.

  5. Lisa

    Are you buying applesauce in the individual serving containers? If so, you should try buying a larger container and making your own single serving. Although there would be an initial outlay for small plastic containers, in the long run it would be less money. Unless you can get apples for less than 50 cents a pound, I have found you can not make applesauce cheaper than buying. Apple butter is a different story though.

    Snacks are an issue for me as well. The kids prefer the processed fruit snacks, cereal bars and granola bars. They do like my homemade granola though. Fortunately I can pick up cereal bars at the dollar store or at the bread store that are similar to the name brand kind.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Yeah, I do buy applesauce in the biggest container. At the grocery store this weekend we were checking out the price of apples and such, and came to the realization that we can’t make applesauce cheaper – unless we had our own apple tree :) Simple Cheap Mom gave me a great idea – and yesterday I made some zucchini/oatmeal/ raisin ‘cookies’ and they are going over very well with the kids. I only used half the amount of sugar, and even whole wheat flour.

  6. Gen Y Finance Guy

    We just started closely tracking and reporting our income, expenses, and net worth. January was the first month for this report to go live.

    I was very surprised when I looked back on 2014 in preparing for my first report that we actually spent $14,000 on eating out and another $6,000 on groceries. It is only two of us…YIKES!

    That means we averaged almost $1,200/month eating out. Our goal for this year is to keep this to around $500/month. We won’t cut it out completely because we really enjoy eating out. But we will pick up less tabs, as we tend to be overly generous and we will host more dinner parties at our house. Because we did the math and we can still host a few couples over for dinner and spend less than an average night out for us.

    Knowing that we would be publishing our numbers in January made us more conscious of our spending. And we ended up only spending about $630 on eating out which was a huge improvement.

    Overall January was a great month. We started our 7-year plan to pay off the mortgage we just took out last year. We also had out best income month ever and grew our net worth by 7.6% just in one month. Although the spending was high, we still managed to save around 66% of our income (per the MMM calculation

    Looking forward to checking in on your journey.


    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Wow! That is a lot of money eating out! But, I think back in our early 30s, Mr SSC and I probably spent quite a chunk of change eating out also. And the important thing is that once you realized it, you decided to cut it in half – which is great! We have the same problem with being over-generous in offering to pick up tabs and such. Every time we go to my parents, we pick up the grocery tab, and most all of the food out… then a month later we look at the credit card bills and smack our foreheads!

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