December was a bit bust. I figured it would be. As much as I frugally shopped for Christmas gifts (and succeeded so often!), the additional traveling, cooking, eating out around traveling and whatnot was not good. Really not good.
Some of it shows up in December and some of it will show up in January.
Here's the truth of the matter:
INCOME: $780 more than expected. This was mostly my medical reimbursement from work. We have a $1500 deductible for medical expenses. When we have met the deductible, my employer will pay half of it back to us. Since Abigail was born this year, I met my deductible and therefore, got this reimbursement. It was a huge help over the holiday season!
OVER BUDGET AREAS:
Gasoline: $44 over budget. This is actually much less than I expected, so although it is not good, it's not as bad as I expected it to be!
Coffee: I have $0 budgeted to discourage stopping to get coffee on the way to work, as Chip used to, but while traveling, it is sometimes necessary to keep hubby awake. $5 over budget.
Fast Food/Restaurants: $191 over budget. Ouch. It hurts to admit that. I would say that it is mostly due to travel, but that would be a lie. It is somewhat due to traveling, but mostly due to not having groceries at the house and not wanting to buy more before traveling for several days.
Groceries: $163 over budget. It's the holidays. I bake. In fact, about $70 of this was due to the fact that I went frugal on gifts this year and baked goodies for many people on our list. That $70 covered 15 people on our list, averaging $4.67 a piece...much less than I could have PURCHASED anything for! Still...the rest was over as well IN ADDITION to the eating out.
Doctor: I have one copay ($40) budgeted each month. We had an extra visit this month. It was just supposed to be Abigail's 6-month check-up, but Patrick knocked a hole in his head mid-month (yes, literally), so there was another visit to make sure there was no concussion and that stitches were not necessary. All is well, but we had to spend a little more. Since we don't have another scheduled check up until March, this should (hopefully) work itself out soon enough.
Miscellaneous Home Supplies: $98 over budget. I really don't know how/what to budget for in this category, so we went over (of course) with Christmas ornaments for the kids (they get to choose one each year), and some organizational supplies I bought at Target.
Baby Supplies: $6 over budget. There was a great sale on diapers and I bought ahead. I thought Abigail would certainly be in size 3 diapers soon, but it looks like it will be a little while yet, so this will pay off eventually, but not until she's in size 3 will we see the savings in this category. Until then, I'm doing the best I can!
Hair: $26 over budget. Chip and Patrick both needed a haircut and Chip is a big tipper, so this one went over my budget of one person getting a cut per month. Maybe with Mr. Heavy Tipper in our family I should re-adjust and up this category's budget. Don't get me wrong...people who are good at such services should be tipped accordingly. I just have to deal with it in our finances. =) And I might need to make sure she's not just a cutie that he's heavily tipping. =) Kidding!
Clothing: $15 over budget. Some needs for Christmas and attire were taken care of simultaneously. And I found some great sales at The Children's Place for next winter and NY & Company for myself. They were too good to pass up I think! =) And although I spent $5 more than our monthly budget on Abigail this past week, we should all be good to go for a while, so this will even itself out as the months move along.
Other: We spent money on Christmas cards, veterinary care (boarding) for the dog while we traveled, and we bought Christmas gifts. The gift damage was kept to a minimum, but still, it is not part of the monthly regular spending, so I will have to figure out how to account for it in the future. Any suggestions?
ON BUDGET AREAS:
Mortgage (Very predictable, but about to change for a number of reasons I'll happily discuss in a moment).
UNDER BUDGET AREAS:
Auto Service: $19 under budget. Oil change done at the beginning of the month for my car, but because this is a rolling budget, I had "credit" from the previous month and ended up overall under budget to date.
Utilities: $130 under budget! The weather was still very mild for the month requiring little work by our heating/cooling units. Water bills was normal. I have a feeling we're going to use some of our excess up this month though...it's getting cold!
Pest Control: Although I budgeted for a monthly service, this seems to be a bi-monthly service...at least in the winter. So we saved the full $36 this month!
Child Care: We saved $76 because we used vacation days instead of paying for days they were not there across Christmas travels. Since we don't vacation and don't plan for them to be sick, we'll gladly use them now and just pay later if they do end up being sick.
Make-up/Toiletries: $17 under budget. I think I should lower this budget, as I am frequently under. I could apply it elsewhere (like hair care?!).
Credit Card Payment: $94 under budget. Not sure how I paid $94 less than I planned to, so this was a surprise to me.
So the good news about our mortgage budget? It is about to drop and we'll be able to apply more to our debts! HOORAY!
We pay monthly HOA fees and our fees have dropped by $52 a month! I have no idea why, but I'm very excited about that. In addition to that savings, we will be saving approximately $156/month on our mortgage because we are refinancing! The paperwork is almost complete. Once the paperwork is complete, we should be getting back $1500 at closing as well as skipping the first two monthly payments. Some people might argue that we should go ahead and make those payments to get ahead, but I'm more interested in using them to pay off debts and knock out those costs. Once our debts are eliminated, we can surge ahead on mortgage payments and seriously build some equity. As it is now, we aren't planning to move (or able to sell if we wanted to, I'm sure), so I'm not worried at the moment about being super ahead. Over the course of our 30-year mortgage, our refinancing ALONE (without any added payments on principle) will save us over $100,000! That's both exciting and sickening!
And in more good news...since October, when I started tracking our monthly budget more strictly, my 401k from work has earned 4.88%. This is good news obviously! My year to date gain in my 401k was 47.27%! Sounds like I should be picking stocks for a living, but that simply isn't the case; in reality, the previous year I had a performance of -41.71%. So I guess I'm just catching up from a terrible market in 2008. At least on a positive note, I gained more last year than I lost the year before (percentage-wise), so it can be considered a win I guess! =)
So, that's where we are at. We're buckling down again this month to try to make some headway again.
Any areas you can recommend for improvements?