Better late than never, right?
Utilities are low because...I neglected to pay my electric bill. I just forgot. Never before in my 30+ years of adulthood have I "just forgot" to pay a utility bill. My goodness. I looked at it a dozen times or so, there on my list of bills to pay, not highlighted, and it never clicked that "Oh, I need to PAY this".
Savings did not happen, but I also paid for my root canal and plane ticket (see below) without pulling from savings.
Everything else this month:
Balance of new roof and gutters - 9,550.00
dentist (root canal) - 550.00
airline ticket - 291.20
dining out - 182.83
gift cards - 60.00
clothes - 57.13
Plum Paper Planner - 52.89
oil change - 44.27
OTC allergy - 16.74
purse insert - 6.99
Pokemon Go - 4.99
My new roof and rain gutters are installed and look great. I am very pleased with the quality. Now there is just the small matter of paying for them. I did pull $700 from GS Savings to throw at the Heloc debt. Only 9.4k to go.
The airline ticket is for the trip Mom and I are making next weekend to Spokane to visit my cousin and his wife.
The dining out and gift card expenses are related to birthdays. I have a lot of friend birthdays in March.
I must now confess that I bought myself a fancypants planner! And...I just love it. It is nothing but an indulgence. The paper is creamy smooth, the colors are lovely, it has tabbed sections for each month. I have a place to track my bills, my debt progress, my savings progress, etc., all on beautiful paper which I can touch.
And for the first time I spent real dollars to play a virtual game. I have been playing Pokemon Go enthusiastically since last July. The game has a built in limit of how many pokemon you can have at any one time. With the release of Gen 2 pokemon, I was bumping the limit. I had to pay real money to increase my "storage" limit. Otherwise, I was in grave danger of not being able to catch 'em all.
Viewing the 'Budgeting' Category
Better late than never, right?
Wages - The second pay period of the month had only 9 work days, which made for a little pay check.
Other Income - My state and federal income tax refunds, as well as a bit of CC rewards.
Everything Else -
dining out 212.31
clothes and purse - 194.84
medical co-pay 60.00
annual road service club - 43.50
Rx co-pays 40.72
CVS - allergy pills, hygiene products 32.79
Here is my January budget report. I paid my January mortgage payment in December. In January, I paid the balance on my Citi Double Cash Card from December's statement. It was not due until 1/8, so that worked out OK.
Everything Else this month was:
wall repair 1260
American Heart Assn 100
CVS medical supplies 47.62
movie tickets 16
Rx co-pay 10
The repair to my leaking wall was pricey.
SB and I bought a new mattress and split the cost. It's the first piece of furniture we have co-purchased. It is one of those which gets delivered in a box and you unfold it. It is surprisingly comfortable. SB chose it. I think we will be getting a topper of some kind too.
The American Heart Association donation is in memory of my cousin once removed who died last September. Several of his immediate family and good friends have formed a team and are doing a 5k walk.
The library fine is for a book J's dog ate! Bad dog.
The movie tickets were a splurge. SB's favorite movie of all time is The Princess Bride. It's one of my favorites, too. Our local indie movie house is showing it on Valentine's Day.
Income - one additional day's pay
Savings - fell short of my goal
Utilities - paid J's cell bill twice
Groceries - so close
Gasoline - buying gas for just me now; J is buying his own
Everything Else - This month I spent $340 at the dentist. A visit each for J and I, plus I had two cavities so I got two fillings. I paid the GP another $100 for J's office visit. His medical card was expired, even though he is still covered. I will submit a claim for partial reimbursement.
I have to say, I think it is going very well using cash for groceries, gas, and my personal allowance. Categorizing my credit card transactions is a snap, even if I am using more than one rewards card.
I had a 10 work-day paycheck, so that left my income a little light. I also enjoyed a raise in July, so that helped.
I expect to go a little over on the mortgage, because I round up to enjoy having an even balance.
As I noted earlier, savings was anemic in July.
Did great on utilities. I am expecting my natural gas bill to drop soon, maybe one more month of paying $68. I currently have a credit balance. I am on balanced bill pay, so I have to keep paying $68 until they recalculate.
Have been doing great on groceries, which is all thanks to SB. He takes the time to visit different stores on his way home from work. He will stop at a grocery outlet and see what they have for cheap, then cook meals around that. He does an awesome job. He does most of the cooking, too. I really can't complain.
Everything else this month included my new phone (184.43), a trip to the dentist for J (85.00) as well as miscellaneous household. The phone was just a want, but everything else was necessary.
And now for the exciting news...J has started another part-time job! He is keeping his first one. This one will give him about 25 hours per week. He is very happy about the job. He will earn enough money to start saving for some things he wants as well as take over more of his own expenses. I'm so glad for him. MrsM180 helped him get his foot in the door. I always enjoy catching one of my kids being nice to the other.
And I won't lie, I'm excited about the positive impact to my own budget. I want to reach my goals.
Bill Fixers was able to reduce my internet bill by $13.96 per month. Not much, but something. I have to pay them half of it, so I am ahead $6.98 per month.
In other budget news, I cancelled my gym membership. A payment was due in July, and that is that. So, there is another $19.99 per month ahead.
I have added dvd service to my Netflix, and will probably keep that for a few months. Our list of movies we wanted to see which are disc only grew to the point it made sense to restart that service. I got the first month free, but afterwards will pay $12 per month.
So as you know, I recently switched to cash only for groceries, gas, and personal spending. Since I had previously used rewards cards for those things, in July I had to pay some of June's charges, plus pay as I go for July. (For budgeting purposes, I count spending when I make a charge, not when I pay it.) As it turns out, I am also parting with the cash for two electric bill payments in July*, which is further impeding my cash flow. It is a temporary bottleneck and will ease next month. However, July's savings account deposits are very anemic.
* My electric company bills me around the 5th or so, and I need to pay by the 20th or so. Usually, I use my Citi DoubleCash MasterCard to pay the electric company. The Citi billing cycle cuts off around the 6th of the month, so I typically charge the electric bill on the 10th. When I get paid on the 15th, I pay the charges which appear on Citi's statement from the 6th. In practice, I don't part with the cash for June's electric bill until July 15th. Which I have just done.
In the pursuit of credit card rewards, I have recently applied for and received the new Ally Visa. The sign-up offer is to spend $500 in the first 3 months and receive a $100 bonus. Since my electric bill is $252 per month, I decided to use it twice to pay my electric bill, thus I don't need to bother with it further. So, I used it this past July 10 to pay July's electric bill. And then the statement cycle closed, and I need to pay by August 12th. A bit inconvenient as that's 3 days before payday. So, I just paid it tonight. That $252 is coming out of my planned savings account transfer.
I will use the Ally card for August's electric bill and pay that in August too.
In September, I will go back to using Citi DoubleCash and won't need to pay that statement charge until October, thus picking up a bit of extra cash flow to throw into savings.
So there you have it. Other than that, just plugging along as usual here at Chez Petunia.
This month is a bit different in that I have credit card charges for gasoline and groceries, plus I withdrew cash at the end of the month for 2 weeks of gasoline and groceries.
Withdrawing cash for my personal allowance is not new, but I did decide to increase it beyond what I had originally budgeted.
May was brutal for extra expenses around here. Since I use rewards cards as much as possible, I won't have to fork over the money until June. I skipped budgeted savings and instead sent every penny possible to credit cards, in effect prepaying June's bills. I shouldn't need to touch GS Savings (emergency fund) at all, but WF savings (curveball fund) will be hit hard.
Rent - BF pitched in an extra $200 to help with the new hot water heater.
Groceries - An amazing coincidence.
Utilities - J's cell phone carrier (Republic Wireless) charged me on the 1st and 31st, so an extra $29.95.
Everything Else - Car repairs came in at $1266.82, new hot water heater totaled $847.81, car registration for J was $115.00, new puppy expenses paid by me were $104.82. May was also a big graduation and birthday month in my extended family, so another $133.76 was spent there. Medical co-pays were $64.08.
I'm almost afraid to put it in words, but I am hoping June holds no unexpected expenses.
Everything else this month included 138.00 for income taxes, 123.64 for medical, 36.86 for J's oil change, a new purse and wallet, and several dinners out.
I received a nice bonus and so tucked some extra money into my traditional IRA and my E fund.
I have a girlfriend who is the accounting manager of a small manufacturing company located in a nearby small town. She gave me a heads up that they will be hiring several entry-level employees for the factory soon. She gave the h.r. person J's name, and J has applied to the temp agency they use. Fingers crossed that J will have a full-time job soon.
I need to have some things done around the house. I had two shingles blow off in the last storm, so I want a roofer to replace them and take a look. My house was built in 1991 and the roof is original. I want to price some stamped concrete work for the backyard. In the front yard, I have a hedge which is just out of control. I allowed it to grow up and swallow two small trees. The hedge made a lovely barrier between us and the crazy neighbor. Now that he is gone, I feel the space would be better utilized as a parking space. We think we can handle the hedge and tree removal ourselves. If not, I will hire someone. To pour the concrete pad, I will definitely hire someone.
So, these expenses are going to slow down my E fund progress. I am going to try to pay for these expenses without resorting to debt. I really love having no debt other than the mortgage, and I really want to keep it that way.
Have you Saving Advice peeps heard about this?
This is a new company which will negotiate your cable, phone, and internet bills for you. They charge you half of your first year's savings to do it. If they can't help, you don't pay.
I'm thinking of letting them have a go at my Comcast internet bill, which is too high.
I'm very glad to be back to tracking my spending closely. Getting away from it makes overspending even easier. Here is my budget report:
Wages: A bit short because I budget based on 11 day pay periods. However, the occasional 10 day and 12 day pay periods do happen.
Rent: I agreed with SB that he would not pay rent on 1/5 as he had one last set of utility bills at his house to pay.
Other: Includes my state income tax refund, part-time job income, credit card rewards, and interest income.
Mortgage: January's mortgage payment was made in December.
Groceries: We supplemented meals heavily with what was already in the pantry. Sweet!
Utilities: I paid my gas bill twice. It used to be due around the 15th, but now is due on the 7th. In January, the first business day was the 4th. That did not leave much time for the electronic payment to arrive on time. I decided to pay a second time in January, so I don't have to worry about that happening again.
Savings: Happy to be over budget on savings.
Car payment: Happy to be over budget on car payment.
Cash Allowance: Trimmed it because I knew I was over elsewhere.
Gasoline: Has gone up now that J has a part-time job in a nearby town. However, J is now saving for his own car insurance. Recently, he got a friend to teach him how to change his brake pads as they needed changing. He paid for the parts himself. What a good kid.
Everything Else: $822 is for car insurance. $596.08 is for medical co-pays. If not for those, I would have come in at budget.
All in all, I am pleased with my spending for January. Since my car is now paid in full, I will re-direct that $350 into savings. Extra bits of income will also be re-directed into savings.
So here is my updated zero based budget.
I am very excited to have a budgeted amount for extra principal to my car loan. And of course, I will continue to throw income from my second job, credit card rewards, and anything else I can scare up towards it.
I am contributing $400 per month to my Simple IRA. My zbb is based on my net pay, so there is no line item for Simple IRA contributions.
So the last of my money transferred in and I have now been repaid in full. Oh, that feels good.
I have been working on my written budget, as I am getting back to tracking my spending each and every month. I really fell off the wagon with that. The budget is mostly done, but I will wait to see my paycheck before I finalize. This will be my first paycheck since changing my withholding and Simple IRA contribution amounts.
My budget is getting leaner. Child support has ended (good-bye $433 per month). My PITI payment has jumped to $1194.16, an increase of $113.52.
I am still paying J's car expenses for now. He had a job interview last week but did not get the job. He is still looking.
BF is accruing rent, but not actually paying it yet. No offers on the house yet either. BF did decide that we need lawn service as he doesn't have time to fiddle with it, and he is paying for that.
So, I have no choice but to re-jigger (is that a word?) my numbers.
I've gotten a bit lax about tracking my spending. I know it's been over, (waaaay over) and I just don't want to look! But as of June 1, I am back to tracking each dollar.
I'm not going to be able to pay my credit card bill in full this month. There have just been too many big expenses in the past few months. Big dental bills for both J and I (I have no dental insurance, J's new dental insurance is not accepted at our dentist), prom, senior trip, big car repair, and ouch-y high car insurance, all on top of everything else. They have ganged up and made a formidable enemy! I will be able to get away with paying no interest, which is a small comfort.
So, how am I adjusting my budget? Much as I hate to do it, I have eliminated the $50 extra car loan principal payment. I have trimmed CurveBall to $300, which is not enough. Further, I'm going to have to use it for credit card debt repayment for a bit.
I have trimmed my grocery budget from $550 to $500, which I'm not entirely certain I can do. That's groceries for me, J, two dogs, and general household supplies. MrsM180 and hubby buy their own groceries, and BF picks up some groceries. However, we really don't have a hands-off policy on general items. We tend to make enough dinner for everyone, regardless of who bought the groceries. And when it comes to milk, salad dressing, bread, we just share. When it comes to specialty items, we tend to ask the purchaser if it is OK to have some, but people mostly say "yes". I'm not going to tell someone who is hungry that they can't have my granola bar, or whatever.
So in short, I'm not real tickled, but it is what it is. For now, this is what it is.
There are some changes brewing on my horizon, and as a result I am changing some of my short-term goals.
What are the changes? I want to move, and I will be giving my son my car as a graduation present. So, I'm going to need some cash.
I spent more on vacation than planned (of course!), including a very unplanned repair bill for a rented ATV. My son was not seriously injured, so that was good. I have drained my vacation fund and tapped my curveball fund, but I continue to have no credit card debt.
I have renamed "vacation fund", its new name is "car fund". This will be to purchase my next car. I will not be taking another vacation until after my next car is bought and paid for.
I will no longer be chipping at my mortgage, but instead will be piling up all of the cash that I can.
Yesterday I received a rebate check for $6.67, as well as a payment from HauserNet for $4.25. I have added both to car fund. Combined with the $1.97 which was already there, I am up to $12.89. Not much of a car there yet.
I will be changing up my budget a bit. I will post that when I know if I got a raise on 7/1 or not. I won't know until next payday (7/15).
My plan once I have moved and gotten settled is to purchase a condo. Not sure yet if I will go for a 1 or 2 bedroom. Either way, I expect my total housing cost to be much, much lower than it is now.
Yesterday I received $160 from my part-time job, which has gone off to E Fund. Inching ever closer to 2 months of take home pay.
My NFL rewards Visa statement closed yesterday. I had 10,550 rewards points available which I redeemed for a statement credit.
So, I had $1,408.15 sitting in checking with nothing due for the rest of the month. But, I have things going on. Namely, my new 6 month auto insurance premium (will be cancelling the old one with 3 months left, but still, that is 3 months out of pocket now), my new homeowner's insurance premium (will have to wait for refund from current company), the new vacuum cleaner I charged, the $75 gas cards charged at Staples (it will take up to 8 weeks to receive my $25 credit), and I am getting a 100k tune-up on the car today, which will be about $500. I don't have to cough up any of this money now, but it is only a matter of time.
Here is what I did:
$445.54 to NFL rewards Visa (balance less $105.50)
_280.44 to WF rewards Visa
__75.00 to American Express
___7.17 to CurveBall Fund
This left $600.00 in checking, so I am done.
Neither the WF nor AmEx statements have even closed yet, so the payments were VERY early.
Notice, I have ended up using my NFL rewards Visa sign-up bonus towards expenses instead of as a mortgage chip. I'm not thrilled about this, but keeping credit card debt out of my life is a higher priority.
Also, I have not sent much extra to CurveBall. But hopefully, I am making it possible to avoid dipping in next month.
I felt a bit of panic when CurveBall dipped down to $54 two months ago; it's offering more cushion now.
Well, I am still waiting for a State Farm agent to contact me "shortly". So this morning, I called my current homeowner's insurance agent. She is an Allstate agent, but my policy is with another company which they also write. I told the office I had a better quote but wanted to give them a chance to keep me. They quoted me $575 for the same coverage I have now ($912), just with yet another company. This is $120 lower than the State Farm quote! I said yes, the price works for me.
Meanwhile, my mortgage servicer disbursed $912 on 11/6 to pay the premium on my current policy. I am proceeding anyway. It just means more hoops. I will have to pay the new policy, then wait for my current policy to refund $912 to my impound account, then ask to be personally refunded the $575 . For $337, I feel it is worth the hassle.
I will instruct them to keep the $337 in my impound account as I know my property taxes are about to take a big jump. In addition to the infamous Prop 13 here in California, we also have Prop 8. Prop 8 says when property values fall, property tax assessments must fall too. But when values rise, they can jump up fast to where they would have been had values not fallen.
In the last few days, I have seen some listings and sales in my subdivision which make me feel very confident my property value has risen sharply in the last 6 months. While this is good news, it means my property tax bill is also going up.
I am home from my week long trek. We had a very nice time, seeing the sights and visiting family. I think my favorite part was the elephant seals lying on the beach near San Simeon. I have wanted to see them for a very long time, and finally had the chance.
I managed to scrape together an additional $81.23 for mortgage principal last month. Not bad.
I overspent $1617 for the month. My security cameras were $1590, so I am not displeased with my spending for the month. I also paid $330 to have all of the embroidering done on J's letterman jacket. If not for that, I would have come in under budget. But, it is always something, right?
Just after the 1st, my daughter paid $300 towards household expenses, which is what we have agreed. Yesterday, I received a check in the mail for $200 from my part-time job. With this recent infusion of $500, I was able to pay Visa for my security cameras without dipping into Vacation Fund. CurveBall is impoverished once again. But, everything is paid in full.
Oh, and utilities are so low because last month I ended up paying my water, sewer, garbage bill twice. So this month, I only owed $3.89.
I received $6 from PineCone and have already applied it to my mortgage. I find it so handy to have my mortgage and checking account at the same bank.
Also, I have decided to bump my mortgage payment up by $10 each month. I have already changed my automatic transfer.
Not as exciting as the snowflakes some of you have been accumulating lately, but I am happy to collect whatever flakes the wind blows my way.
I decided not to file the restraining order. This decision upset my mother, and I think she may rescind her offer to pay for the security cameras. If so, that is how it goes. I love her just the same.
"Everything Else" in July included 6 mo car insurance premium ($532), annual car registration ($130), smog certificate and oil change ($91) and J's letterman jacket ($182).
From the "Ad Choices" links along the top of the screen here on Saving Advice, I stumbled upon a free software download for "MoneyLine". I am going to give it a try for August and see how it goes.
Well, I am the happy recipient of a raise. Starting today, I am bringing home an additional $119 per month. What to do with it?
Well, my life insurance policy is increasing from $14 to $28 per month this month. I guess the insurance company knew about this raise before I did.
Last week, post-cruise, I stood on the scale. This made me very sad. So, I joined a gym. This particular gym is new to me. The monthly fee is $20. In addition, they have an annual fee each June which is $29. For this price, I can bring a guest with me each time I go at no additional charge. It can be the same guest each time or a wide array of different guests.
I bumped up my monthly Emergency Fund contribution from $60 to $118. I bumped up my monthly Vacation Fund contribution from $60 to $75. And finally, I bumped up "Everything Else" from $363 to $375. And just like that, my raise is spent.
I considered then rejected the idea of increasing my retirement account contributions. Between my regular monthly contributions, the additional contributions I make at bonus time, and my employer contributions, I am saving 15% of my gross. I feel that is adequate, so I should focus instead on my cash savings, which I feel are inadequate.
I also considered bumping up my mortgage payment, but rejected that idea also in favor of more cash.
As today was payday, I did a wallet sweep and sent $10 off to E fund.
Hausernet sent me a $.50 payment for February, so I sent that off to E fund as well.
J went to camp last week, I picked him up this past Saturday. The director made a point of telling me what a great kid he is, and that if cares to apply, he can have a spot as a counselor next year. That would mean he would go to camp for free. So, I am all done shelling out for summer camp. Yay!
I worked last Thursday and Friday at my part-time job, and collected my $200 check for June. That has already gone off to E fund. I am done with them for July and will bill another 7 hours. So far, this is working out just fine.
So, this is how I did in May:
The overage in Everything Else is from my pergola cover, the second installment of J's camp, and a donation to the American Red Cross.
Groceries continue to be a challenge. My daughter and son-in-law arrived yesterday, and will be here until mid July. I expect groceries to continue to be a challenge. I know I can do better. And I'm just going to have to start.
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