Okay, so based on this last post, you know that January was NOT a good month for us in so many ways. It was one of those months where I once had no idea where the money went. But now thanks to our tracking of finances via Mint, I knew exactly where the money went. I'm not necessary proud of it, but I've identified it and now can work with it.
So...let's get down to the nitty gritty our our household finances for the month of January:
INCOME: We were right on this one. While it's great to not be BELOW what we expected, it's always nice if some unexpected item shows up here. Oh well. =)
OVER BUDGET AREAS:
Gasoline: $18 over budget. It happens.
Car Repair/Service: $333 over budget. I discussed this in the update post last week, but basically we had to get some brake repair done. Luckily we pulled the cash out of savings and didn't have to pay with plastic (HOORAY). And we have since placed that money back into savings. It's great to be a lender to yourself...no interest paid that way! =) So this was unforeseen and way over the budget that I usually allow for oil changes and such.
Utilities: $175 over budget. Here is where I don't like online tracking. Here's a long story to honestly excuse this one: We were going to be on budget this month, even after having to pay a late fee from last month (grumble, grumble...my fault though). However, because I paid February's power bill early, it hit during January. The bill was $181.00, so really we were right ON budget for January. And now February will look SUPER slim. That's okay. I know that we nailed it and now so do you.
Coffee Shops: $4 over budget. I really should put some money in our budget toward this one. Not for coffee. See, we have a coffee shop at our church and we have a tradition about letting Patrick have some milk and a muffin the size of his head from the coffee shop after church services on Sunday mornings. Two muffins and two drinks = $4.25. Not bad for some memories and a tradition that he LOVES. Plus...it serves as his entire lunch and sometimes mine, so that's definitely not bad as an "eating out" cost.
Fast Food: $5 over budget. Okay...definitely over, but LOOK HOW CLOSE WE'RE GETTING ON THIS ONE! I'm proud of us since this seems to be a weak spot for us.
Groceries: $71 over budget. This seemed to be one of those months when I couldn't make a menu to match the
Restaurants: $76 over budget. I discussed this one in my semi-update last week. This one makes me nauseous. If it hadn't been for that one $72 dinner, we would have been so close. But we weren't. Sigh...moving on....
Home Supplies: $3 over budget. I think this was batteries or something similar. Regardless... it will even out this month.
Baby Supplies: $5 over budget. I have a stockpile of size 3 diapers, but it doesn't seem that Abigail will ever grow into them. Until she does, I keep having to buy size 2s as needed. Hopefully we can get caught up in this category if/when the child ever fills out! Our little chunky monkey is no longer chunky, but slim and tall/long (like her brother was).
Hair care: $11 over budget. Although no one got a hair cut this month, Mr. Big Tipper (aka - Chip) carried us from last month into this one and we're still over budget. And Patrick needs another one, so I should really just cut my losses and reset the rolling budget on this one.
Make-up/Toiletries: Okay...so I was honestly $1 over, but that's hardly "over" right? Still, I would look deceitful if I tried to call it "on" budget, so I'll put it here.
Clothing: $125 over budget. Explained in the semi-update post. No excuse, but it's the truth.
ON BUDGET AREAS:
Auto Insurance: We're actually $4 below budget this last month, so I'm guessing our premiums must have gone down. I'm leaving the budget in place for now, as Chip got a ticket last week (grumble, grumble) and we need to wait and see if it will affect our insurance costs.
Mobile Phone: On budget.
Television: On budget.
Newspaper: On budget. This will get cancelled as soon as Chip finds a job and no longer needs the classifieds. I can just pick up the Sunday version at the church bookstore on Sundays for the coupons and we can read it online as needed (although in my head there is something relaxing and very classic about reading the daily newspaper).
Term Life Insurance: Of course this one is predictable.
Mortgage: On budget. Good news about this at the bottom of the post.
Childcare: On budget. aka...no sitters this month
BELOW BUDGET AREAS:
Doctor: We're WAY below budget here. As in, we have a credit in this category because of my medical reimbursement from my employer (they pay for the 2nd half of the deductible and since Abigail was born last year, we met our deductible and got a $750 check from my employer). So we honestly have a credit in this area. Like a $600 credit. We'll use it to pay current and upcoming medical bills. I just didn't want to let go of it while times are tight.
Pharmacy: $27 under budget. As in...I didn't pay anything to the pharmacy this month. I've stopped taking my birth control pills (lengthy post for another time) and I didn't have my pre-natal vitamins that I'm taking while nursing filled until the beginning of this month.
Pest Control: This is not a monthly service in the winter like I budgeted for, so we didn't have to pay this month.
Credit Card Payments: $188 under budget. I know...not where I want to be under budget. But it was a tough month. Seriously...I put groceries on the credit card TWICE because the cash wasn't there (yes...those are included above). It sucks. So since I couldn't pay for food, I obviously didn't have money to send extra to the credit card companies. What did I send? I sent the minimum to two cards, slightly over (like $18...rounded up) the minimum to the main card we're trying to pay off and paid off the amount that we had paid to the (once again) balance-free card that my Christmas presents from Chip had gone onto. So. yeah.
Like I said...it was a rough month. In the end, we were $171 over budget total, but $181 of that was a bill that was intentionally paid early. I don't like that we were still on budget while not sending enough to pay off debts, but I guess you have to make trade offs to stay afloat some times.
Other Items that Aren't Captured Clearly Here:
- Out debt balance went up this month. As I noted above, we had to put groceries on the credit card (which pains me to do). I put a charge on there that will pay a broker to sell our timeshare. If/when that sells, we will be out from under the burden of another debt that is included in our "mortgage" category, but until that happens, we're just trying to get rid of it. We can't sell it ourselves, so we're hoping that fee was a good investment. That's a post for a different day though.
- Our savings account only grew by $50 this month. Like I said...it was a tough month. We had to draw some money out of savings to pay for the van's brakes. I was able to replace that money though and add $50 to the balance. I know it needs to be more. I'm trying to get it to Mr. Dave Ramsay's minimum of $1000.
February Outlook: I'm excited about February. Some changes will happen to our budget that I'm excited to tell you about.
First of all, our home refinance went through and we now owe $240 a month less on our mortgage just due to an interest rate change. No variable rates. We will save over $100,000 if we happen to take the full 30 years to pay for it (seriously...not the plan, so imagine what we'll ACTUALLY save once we can put more than the minimum toward our home). In addition, our monthly HOA fee dropped $52/month for 2010. So our budget for our mortgage will drop by about $300 as compared to December of last year...which we can apply toward debts! WOO HOO!
Secondly, February itself will have no monthly mortgage payment due to the timing of the loan. This frees up some money to make up from the suffocation I was feeling after January. I'd like to say that we could apply it towards something specific, but without it, we truly would have come out in the red for January, so I count it as God taking care of us for the month.
Next, we are starting to tithe again. I discussed in the last post that we (embarrassingly enough) had stopped about 8 months ago, but were getting rolling again now. It will affect our finances, sure. But I'm trusting God to take care of it. Maybe we won't be able to pay as much on our debts after all (despite the drop in mortgage costs), but I'm not going to worry about it because we're doing what we need to be doing. God will honor that and take care of the rest...I firmly believe that.
Then, we will have some added medical costs that may not show up this month, but will be happening within a week. We're out of the baby-making business and we're taking care of that so we can breathe easier. =) It will also allow us to decrease our pharmacy budget. Enough said.
Also, we should be getting an income tax refund this month. We haven't done our taxes yet because we are waiting on one more document (don't you LOVE when they wait until the very last minute to send it out?!), but still expect a refund. How much? I have no idea because so much has changed for us this year...another child, changed with-holdings, Chip was laid off....we'll just have to see where all the pieces fall. But we'll file electronically and have it direct deposited, as usual, so we should see it this month.
Lastly, Chip may have a job on the horizon. I don't want to put all my eggs into one basket and expect that it IS happening, but it is truly promising. Of course costs like gasoline will go up again if he gets it, but since we are accustomed to living on my income now (for the most part), I'm hoping that we can use his exclusively to pay off debt (in addition to what we're already paying).
Okay, so these are always the lengthiest posts (I'm not known for being at a loss for words), but it is an all-encompassing look into our finances for the month.