Well, a new pay period has rolled around (mine is mid-month to mid-month), so it’s time to look at how last month’s spending went.
|Total actually spent||1227.38|
Now for you financial voyeurs out there, let’s see where it went.
Okay, I know it looks like I completely blew this budget but… Of the $400.02, $239.55 went into my Saved Savings account. (I put money in that account any time I save money with coupons, sales, store rewards, etc. for things I was going to buy anyway.)
In fact, the entire category total was set to be savings — but I decided to be a nice landlord.
When I got the mail one day, I saw that my tenant’s water delivery service (the tap water here is awful) was offering a $20 off coupon for bottom-loading water dispensers. She has some health issues that make her joints ache — and also those five-gallon jugs are tough for most people at around 40 lbs — so I offered to buy the dispenser for the guest house. It was $160.47 after tax.
Thus, I ended up seemingly super high on miscellaneous “spending” when 67% actually went into savings.
Why was saved savings so high, you ask? (And even if you didn’t.) Well, my electric company sent me a letter saying that I was using more electricity than my averaged-out plan was paying for. (Which… I mean, that’s the point of the program?) So it was transferring in around $600 in credit, I’m assuming from all the electricity I didn’t use (but paid for) during the cooler months.
I figured this meant it was settling the account, and I’d keep paying. But instead, when I got my “We’re about to charge you” notification email it said that I owed -$598ish. So… no idea what’s going on there. But since it’s money I would’ve spent anyway, I figured it counts as saved savings.
Other saved savings were more mundane.
My insurance company is covering my $25 copay as long as my therapy is via telesessions, and I had two of those last month. About $15.50 was saved through grocery store sales and coupons. Around $19 in savings from CVS coupons and my ExtraCare Pass bucks. A little under $19 for two takeout meals that I paid for with a gift card. Oh, and $4.48 to my regular savings account because the account balance was soooo close to the nearest thousand, and since I’m weird, I wanted to make it a nice even number.
A very quiet month for this category — which I’m more than happy to take. It means nothing broke! But I did have my two (main house and guest house units) HVAC service plans at $15 per month each.
Come to think of it, maybe the dispenser should’ve gone into this category? Eh, too late now.
Gas is lasting a ridiculously long time these days. But I never know when I’ll run out — last month, a 30-mile trip to a specialist in Mesa drained the tank quite a bit — so each month I budget for a fill-up. This was not a month I needed it, so $0 here. Pandemic life is exciting, y’all.
Speaking of unexciting things: laundry! I put $3.50 into my Washer/Dryer fund each time I do a load so that I can pay for replacement units when the time comes. ($1,400ish and counting!) This month, $17.50 got put away.
I separate this because it seems weird to put in the Miscellaneous category, since I know it’ll come out of the account every month. Thus this line item is always exactly as budgeted. (And yes, that is very high for life insurance. Being Bipolar II and not getting the coverage until my 30s bit me in the ass. Get coverage while you’re young and/or undiagnosed, people!)
This category was higher when the world was safe, but for now I’m not getting a haircut. So I just budget for my $40 beauty service (including tip) and enough for hair dye now that I’m doing it at home.
This month, I just got the beauty service done. And no, an unnecessary service may not be the smartest move. But it makes me feel better, is over in about 15 minutes, we both wear masks, she cleans in between clients and my therapist says I need to balance caution with living in fear. So $40 got spent.
Super exciting stuff here, folks. Toothpaste, moisturizer, etc. Thanks to coupons, this was super low at $18.18. Hooray!
Because of the aforementioned weirdness with the electric company, my utilities were very low this month. Just $20.03 for natural gas (for my water heater), $5.42 for Ooma for my landline (because I’m old and still have one) and I rounded the water/sewer/trash bill up from $53ish to $60 for the assistance program. Because when I was low income, that assistance program saved my bacon, and I need to pay it forward.
Given that I’m not exactly going to movies right now — and no, I’m not going even now that theaters are opening back up because yikes — this category was just for Netflix ($14.11) and my Hulu charge ($6.52).
I’m guessing $148 sounds reasonable for one person. And it absolutely would be. But that’s not exactly how much food I get, hence the asterisk in this category.
First, it’s important to note that I commit the cardinal frugality sin of not cooking. I dislike it, I find it mentally draining to plan meals, and I can afford to be unfrugal in this category. So I do.
Instead I subsist on things like protein bars and peanut butter in the morning, frozen dinners at night. (When I stick to my diet. Ah, those were the days.)
To help defray the cost some, I buy discount Target gift cards, which are accounted for in previous months’ budgets. Thus I can’t also include them here. But $76.14 worth of protein bars was purchased at Target.
So my true grocery spending this month was $199.94 — which is still under the $225 I budgeted for and the $200 I hope to stay under. So all in all a good month.
Most months I just have the Banfield pet plan, but every so often I buy a toy or some such. So I budget for $50, but honestly it’s rare I buy toys. Josie just isn’t that interested in them. Seems like my cats rarely play in that sense.
So moving forward I’m going to bring it down to the $33.95 for the Banfield plan.
Wowza, really blew this budget, didn’t I? And as the asterisk indicates, it’s even worse than it looks.
My usual takeout is $9.34, and normally I only get pizza (extra large with cinnamon sticks from a pricey place, thus $36.21 for about seven meals) once a month.
This month… Not so much.
I ordered pizza twice, which was very nearly my entirely monthly takeout budget. In addition, there was the day I was exhausted/dehydrated and couldn’t eat anything in the house and thus paid heinous delivery app fees, making the two Thai meals I ordered almost $30.
But as I said, it gets worse. I had two takeout meals that I paid for with a gift card plus $1 each time (out of my walking around money) for a tip. So I actually got $134.88 of takeout this month (!!!) on a $75 monthly category budget.
Eesh. Obviously, I went crazy this month. Normally, takeout is just a weekly thing, but this past month… Repeatedly nothing at home sounded good. I’ll have to work on that.
So yeah, I’m going to try to do better this month, but I did increase the category limit for this next month to $100.
Slid in only a little under the budget with this one.
The major cost in this category is my insurance premium, which is just under $400 — plus I have a $24/month vision and dental add-on. (Which I really need to use. I’m overdue for a cleaning, and COVID cases seem to be waning somewhat.)
Also in this category last month was $40 for my last massage. I couldn’t justify it while cases were so much on the rise and the chiropractors who run the place weren’t enforcing the mask mandate. The asterisk here is that I tip out of my walking around money, so there’s an extra $15 that was spent — but that didn’t come out of my bank account that day.
Other than that, about $50 in prescriptions (one of which will last me at least three months, thankfully), a $10 copay for the chest x-ray the pulmonologist ordered, and two $15 copays for said pulmonologist.
Sigh. Before the last minute (as in, the last day of this past financial month) addition of the water dispenser, the total spending was a much more impressive $1,200ish — $1,060ish if you account for how much went into Saved Savings.
Thus, it feels a little less like an accomplishment — if still low spending — to have come in at nearly $1,500. But again, if you account for the more than $250 in saved savings, we’re back to $1,227. Which I like better.
However, that isn’t a complete picture of all of my spending for the month. I made a very sizable extra payment on my mortgage, my business pays $79 for my Internet* and I give to charity. I’m not comfortable disclosing the last one, so I’ll just give you the overall total monthly outlay of $3,307.57 — with $3,050.52 not being tucked away in any other accounts.
All in all, not the cheapest month, but certainly not bad considering the significantly larger mortgage payment.
I’d like to stay under $2,500 in retirement — which is half the reason I’m tracking spending these days — and I think it’s definitely feasible once I’m not paying mortgage principal ($250ish) and extra mortgage principal every month.
*I need a business account to get a static IP for work, so unfortunately I can’t get any cheaper.
How did your spending go this month?