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 in 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?