It’s time for another budget report, Picky people! See how our expenses looked during August and where we plan to go in September. You can read July’s budget report here.
Hey Picky peeps! Thanks for tuning in for August’s budget report. I share these reports so y’all can see where our money goes. I think it’s really helpful to show our debt payoff journey, as well as what we spend our money on.
August was actually not too shabby. Sure, we were over budget in some areas, but compared to July, this was an AMAZING month. We did have some not-so-fun surprise expenses, but that’s just life. Without further ado, see where our money went in August!
P.S. If you haven’t already, please join our Picky Pinchers Facebook group! I designed it to be a safe haven for frugal-minded folk to ask questions and share little wins. I’d love to see you there!
Slow ‘n’ steady wins the race for our monthly mortgage payment. We’ll start paying down our mortgage once we tackle our student loans. You know what’s funny, though? This is how much our rent was at an apartment! And for the same amount we get a whole damn house! Crazy.
Double oops! We forgot again to install our own router to save $10/mo on our bill. Do I have an excuse? Nah, not really. I call this the “laziness tax,” and we’re definitely paying it. We do plan to install it this month (y’know, like I’ve been saying for the past three months…) so we can finally save a little bit of moolah.
In other news, I still really want Google Fiber to come to our area. Pleaaaaaaaaase.
Our phone bill was over budget this month by $10. There are two culprits here. First, I traveled quite a lot in August, which meant I spent more on data using my phone’s GPS. Second, Mr. Picky Pincher no longer has free wifi at work, so he has to use data to watch cat videos.
I’m not too mad about this bill, though! I remember so un-fondly our days of $200+ phone bills for the exact same service we get now. I’m really grateful that we switched to a different plan with Google Fi.
If you want to check out Google Fi for yourself, you can sign up through my affiliate link here. They’ll give you a nice $20 credit to your account. Not bad, eh?
Car payment: $345.36
Yup, we still have a car payment! Learn more about our car saga here.
This includes homeowner’s insurance, life insurance, and car insurance. Mr. Picky Pincher and I did defensive driving a few years ago and we’re still reaping the awesome benefits of slightly cheaper car insurance. If you haven’t called your insurer and asked for discounts yet, do it right now!
Utilities (trash, water, energy): $202.23
This is a very, very rare good month for utilities! I was shocked when I saw how low this number was!
The big upside is that we put insulation in our house last month. We weren’t sure if it would make much of a difference, but this month’s electric bill was $40 cheaper than last month’s–and August is much hotter, too, mind you. Some of y’all were asking if it’s worth insulating your house, and I can definitively say GO DO IT RIGHT NOW. We were able to install the insulation ourselves, meaning it only cost about $500 for the whole affair.
We also had a suspiciously low water bill this month. Our bill is usually around $65, but this month it was just $37. We were supposed to get a $65-ish bill, but their system added it incorrectly to be $37. We’ll see if they’ll charge the extra on next month’s bill. Gotta love city-run systems.
We also didn’t have a charge for trash this month, either, since that’s paid quarterly. I wish they’d let us pay monthly though because it messes up the budget!
Not too shabby on the grocery front this month, y’all! Last month we spent over $600, so this is the improvement I was looking for.
We’re over on groceries this month by $50, but I’m not too upset about that. I know that we’re going in the right direction and we just need to keep making smart menu choices. I’m particularly okay with a higher grocery bill when we come in under budget on take out, too! I’ll continue to use our smart grocery planning techniques to keep bringing this number down.
Grocery bill, old foe, you shall not defeat us!
If you want to see the specific ways we cut our grocery bill, check out my eBook, “Slash Your Grocery Bills in 28 Days.”
Take out: $173.39
Oh haaaaaay. We’re under budget here by $26.61. After last month’s horrible food costs, we vowed to be more mindful of how often and where we ate. In addition to making sure we ate more at home, we also ate at cheaper restaurants. Instead of indulging in a $30 dinner for two, we opted for dollar-menu fare at Taco Bell for just $10.
So, while we did treat ourselves to restaurants, we were still able to come in under budget. Awww yeahhhhhh.
I don’t have exact figures for how much we spent on gas this month. It was a little tricky because I traveled so much for work. I get reimbursed for my mileage, so it’s hard to figure how much of the gas costs we use for life and how much I used for work. But still, gotta love those mileage reimbursements! I’ll make $600 extra off of August travel alone. Mwahahaha.
On the topic of gas, I’m getting a little nervous about supply issues here in Texas. Houston is underwater right now and it houses two of our nation’s largest oil refineries. We’re already starting to see gas shortages across the state as well as higher prices. We were hoping to take a mini roadtrip this weekend, but I just don’t see that happening with gas supply being so volatile. Mr. Picky Pincher had to go to three gas stations today to actually find gas.
I’m happy we at least have a fuel-efficient car! We can go two weeks without needing fuel if we use the car sparingly.
P.S. I know people will be tempted to stockpile fuel, but that will only make it harder for everyone to get gas, y’all.
Student Loans: $2,340.31
Woohoo! We were able to put a lot more money on Mr. Picky Pincher’s student loans this month. After last month’s catastrophic spending, it felt good to get on track this month. Of course, we were hoping to put about $3,500 on the loans, but $2,300 ain’t too bad either. Once upon a time this would have been an IMPOSSIBLE number for us to contribute to debt. I gotta pat us on the back for making the necessary changes to crush debt.
I know, I know. Our Other expenses are always horrifying. We went over budget this month thanks to Hurricane Freakin’ Harvey destroying our tree. We also made a few more Fun Expenses than normal.
Here are some notable August expenses:
- Tree removal: Hurricane Harvey sure has been the gift that keeps on #$%&ing giving. We’re thankful that our tree took the brunt of Harvey’s damage, but removing the bifurcated tree wasn’t cheap. The best quote we could find from a bonded and insured tree company was $900, as well as $120 for a stump grinding. It’s a relief to have the tree gone, but it left a big, gaping hole in both our lawn and our budget. Booooo. We could have removed the tree ourselves, but it would have taken so much time and effort that it was worth the money. Plus, I wanted an insured company to assume the liability if the tree fell on our roof!
- Exercise pole: I bought an exercise pole earlier this month as a Fun Purchase. It’s been such a blast, y’all! At first I wasn’t able to do any tricks at all, but now I’m able to do basic moves. It works out my core and arms and it’s fun. Here’s the one I got on Amazon.
- Shrubs: Our nursery gave us special coupons when we bought trees and plants for our garden earlier this year. They were good for half off our future purchase, but the purchase had to be made in August. We have a vendetta against our neighbor’s cute-but-yappy-and-loud dog, so we bought four very nice bushes to plant on that side of our fence. It would have set us back $100 at full price, but we got them for $50. Not too bad, and cheaper than an 8-foot fence.
- Brickwork and siding: Before this month, the back of our house was just a sheet of very fancy Tyvec. Mr. Picky Pincher and his dad labored away and covered the back porch with brick and then wood siding. This entire process set us back about $100 in supplies. It was much cheaper than hiring a mason!
- Oil change: We started paying for oil changes again. This is mostly because we have to purchase a special “key” of some kind to remove the oil pan from our Corolla. Our truck also has some weird engine from Mexico and finding a filter ourselves has been impossible. We’ll pay the extra $20 to have a professional quickly and correctly change the oil. Some people say this is a waste of money, and maybe it is, but the oil got changed and we saved time and sanity. Worth itttttt.
- Food dehydrator: Mr. Picky Pincher loves beef jerky. The downside is that storebought beef jerky is very expensive, so he decided to start making his own. We used to have a cheap white plastic dehydrator, but it was kinda crappy and took forever to dry stuff. This badass dehydrator makes jerky in 10 hours! We’ll also use the dehydrator to save spoils from our garden, particularly once our fruit trees start producing. I love having food preservation systems in place before we get a big crop.
- Gifts: It was my dad’s and Picky Toddler’s birthdays this month, which meant a few gift expenses.
- Glasses: Mr. Picky Pincher got a pair of prescription sunglasses since his clip-on sunglasses were crappy.
- Sickness! Mr. Picky Pincher came down with a Man-Cold that left him with a painful lingering cough. That meant he had a few doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and OTC meds to soothe his symptoms. The costs of medicine were enough to convince me to start extreme couponing again. I do miss having a stockpile of $1 boxes of cold meds lying around. That stuff ain’t cheap!
Online income streams
I don’t make a crapton of money with my online income streams, but it’s worth mentioning these avenues I use.
- UpWork: I use UpWork to find my freelance writing and marketing clients. People need regular content and I’m happy to provide it. If you need some work done, give me a shout on my Work With Me page! I don’t bite.
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing: I signed up for this course back in February and it’s changed the way I talk about products on my site. It’s been so eye-opening and useful. It’s great if you’re a blogger looking to make moolah in a non-spammy way.
- Tailwind: I use Tailwind to schedule my Pinterest for Picky Pinchers. Jeez, it’s been a freakin’ time-saver. Plus it’s kept great traffic coming in from Pinterest. It’s a cool tool for bloggers if you’re trying to streamline how you spend your time. Since I spend most of my time baking or sleeping, I’m a fan.
- Bluehost: I use Bluehost to host this blog. I’ve had zero issues with them and it’s been shweet. If you want to start a blog, Bluehost is a perfect platform. You can also sign up through my affiliate link here to get a better rate. I have a detailed guide right here for setting it up. If I can do it, you can do it.
- Acorns: I started using Acorns a few months ago to start investing my spare change. I normally don’t like money apps, but I really do like this one. If y’all want to check it out, you can sign up through this link and we’ll both get 5 buckaroos.
Total expenses: $5,153.37 (thanks, you stupid tree)
Total expenses with student loans: $7,493.68
Keep in mind that the student loans are going towards debt and aren’t technically “spending.” I just think it’s helpful to include them in a separate figure.
Savings rate: 32.70%
Cost per meal: $3.10
Welp, our savings rate is definitely not where I like it to be, but we did much better than last month, so August was a success! I’d love for our September savings rate to be at our target 50%. I know we can make that number if we, y’know, don’t have another unexpected $1,000 expense. This has shaped up to be a very pricey summer, y’all!
I’d like to minimize our Other expenses going into next month, too. We had planned to take a vacation in September to the Texas coast, but had to cancel due to Hurricane Harvey. In light of our expenses, I’m not sure a much-needed getaway is going to happen. Ugh. Oh well. I’m just crossing my fingers that next month we don’t get hit with another surprise $1,000 bill!
I’m also nervous about gas prices and gas access in September. Houston and the coastal areas will take quite a while to recover, which means there will be supply issues for gas and many other items coming from the coast. We’ll just have to play it by ear, but I’m very glad that I don’t have work travel in September. Phew.
But! I forgot to announce some great news that was the high point of our August! Mr. Picky Pincher got a pay bump! He’ll earn an extra $200 a month, which is AMAZING. He also earned an office with a window at work. He absolutely loves not being in a shared cubicle space. I do think we’re going to buy him supplies for a standing desk (his company doesn’t pay for that), so that’ll be an expense, but it’s worth it.
I’m going to this super-dorky-but-awesome conference called FinCon in October. It’s a mega-gathering of personal finance and frugality bloggers and I’m excited to go! They give out awards for the best blogs in the biz and I would be honored if you would consider voting for Picky Pinchers! I’ll probably ugly cry if I win, to be honest. Don’t you want to see me ugly cry?
I know the online ballot is gigantic, so if you’d like to vote, click on this link and search for “Frugality” on the page. Kindly enter this blog’s URL, submit, and you’ll be the best person ever!
Nominate Picky Pinchers for Best Frugality Blog!
We want to know: How was your August? Were you a Frugal Francine / Fergus or a Spendy Susie / Stan?
The post The Picky Pincher August Budget Report appeared first on Picky Pinchers.