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It’s time for another budget report, Picky people! See how our expenses looked during August and where we plan to go in July.
Wow! We sure did a lot of living this August. It seems this month, like the many before it, flew by without warning. Here we are, on the brink of paying off our student loans, and feeling awesome. It’s easy to get Senioritis when you’re so close to meeting a goal, but it’s been fuel to our frugal fire. We tried to keep Expenses lower this month and had good success. We finally hit a 50% savings rate, which is definitely something to celebrate!
See where our money went this month and what we plan to do in September!
P.S. If you haven’t already, please join our Picky Pinchers Facebook group! It’s a safe haven for frugal-minded folks to ask questions and share wins. I’d love to see you there!
Yup, we’re slow ‘n’ steady paying down our mortgage.
Standard charges for our high-speed internet with Speculum Spectrum.
Our bill will be higher like this for the foreseeable future. Poor hubs doesn’t have wifi at work, so it eats up data if he wants to escape and watch a cat video to decompress. As a huge upside, we should get free cell service next month thanks to a promotion by Google Fi (I bought a Pixel XL 2). Woohoo!
I wrote this review after using Fi for one year if you’re curious about the experience.
If you’d like to join Google Fi, you can do so through my affiliate link right here. After 30 days, Google Fi will credit your account with $20, which is like getting one month free. Nifty eh?
Car payment: $345.39
Yup, we still have a car payment! Learn more about our car saga here.
This includes homeowner’s insurance, life insurance, and car insurance.
Utilities (trash, water, energy): $254.71
We didn’t have trash charges this month, which was nice. Our water clocked in at $87.98. We’ve had worse bills this summer, so that’s not too shabby. Uh, especially considering August is infamous in Texas for being the hottest month of the year. Our poor trees barely made it through the summer, but they DID make it. Which is a feat for my black thumb.
Our energy cost $166.73 this month. I can’t wait for the winter months, which equal way cheaper utility bills. Mmmm.
Well looky here, folks! We squeaked by $6.40 under budget on groceries. This month we tightened the purse strings on groceries to pay off debt more quickly. Specifically, we bought conventional meat this month instead of organic. That alone saved us $80 or so.
We’re also trying to be more aware of our food use and waste. We have a long way to go, of course, but I really believe awareness has helped us plan meals that fit our needs.
P.S. Check out The Picky Pincher Cookbook for tasty recipe ideas!
Oops! We did so well on grocery costs and went $171 over here. Ouch.
There are a few reasons for this. We did have one professional society dinner that cost $70 (it was a flat fee, so I couldn’t order a salad and pay a lower rate. Rats!). Our writing/studying retreat also caused a big spike in food expenses. Aside from that, we’re guilty of picking up breakfast and lunch here and there, which add up over time.
In September I’d love to minimize how often we’re eating out. That $171 could have made a good dent in our debt!
Yay for wins like this! We thankfully didn’t have any medical expenses this month.
Our gas costs were cheap this month, too. Last month we had a lot of driving and trips and felt the pain in our budget. I’ll happily spend just $50 on gas this month! And that’s including travel to our writing/studying retreat. Gotta love fuel-efficient cars.
By popular request, we started separating out household items in our budget.
Some popular items we bought this month include:
- Ace bandage: Years ago, I broke my foot. It healed fine and everything, but occasionally it will ache when it rains. We had a week straight of rain and my foot was killing me. We picked up an Ace bandage to relieve the pain. So annoying!
- Magic Erasers: I loooove Magic Erasers. I use them to easily wipe grease off our kitchen cabinets and backsplash. They’re also the only thing that will get scum off the bath tub. I always buy with a coupon, too.
- Nail polish and acetone: Every now and then I have the urge to get my nails done. I promptly slap myself in the face and instead do my nails at home. I like using false nails from the grocery store and nice, high quality nail polish. I can make my nails last 1 – 2 weeks and it looks like I paid $50 to have them done.
- Cat treats: To avoid kitty mutiny.
- Chocolate molds: Hobby Lobby was having a sale on their kitchen supplies. I couldn’t turn down a few half-price chocolate molds. I’m gonna make myself the next Jacque Torres, y’all.
Student Loans: $4,000
Thanks to my freelancing income, we were also able to slam an extra $2,200 on the loans. That’s a total of $6,200 on debt this month, fam! Oh man, I can’t for it to be gone.
We use a zero sum budget system where every dollar has a purpose. We cover all of our expenses each month and contribute whatever remains to debt. It’s a real motivator to come in on budget!
We were over budget on Other expenses by $187.73. This certainly isn’t the worst month we’ve had for extraneous expenses, but they’re always higher than I’d like them to be. I think regularly checking our budget each week is helping us rein in these expenses.
Here are some notable August expenses:
- Great Clips: Mr. Picky Pincher went to get his hair trimmed for the summer. I’d love to learn how to cut his hair, but neither of us are brave enough to put clippers in my hands just yet.
- Car wash: Our car was ab-so-lutely filthy. The problem? Our city has a watering ban that forbids us from washing our cars at home. If we want to wash our cars, it has to be at a city certified car wash (I know it’s silly, but those are the rules). Anyway, we had to pay $10 to get the car washed. We got to use their mat cleaner and vacuums, which was nice.
- Coffee shop visits: I spent around $50 at coffee shops this month. I’m trying to accelerate my freelance side business and it’s hard to focus when I’m at home all day. 2 – 3 hours in a coffee shop does wonders for my productivity! That does mean I spend $5 – $10 every time I want to use their wifi, but that’s how it is.
- Costco ink refill: Yes! Costco does ink cartridge refills that are half the cost of buying new. This service alone pays for our Costco membership each year. Nifty, eh?
- Swimsuit: I treated myself to a cute new swimsuit this month. We’re going to FinCon in Orlando in late September and I wanna look good! Here’s the swimsuit I got; I’m a sucker for 1950s fashion.
- State exam fees: He’s doing it!! Mr. Picky Pincher was able to register for his licensing exam next month. So proud of him!
- Car inspection and registration: We had our annual registration due on our car.
- Headphones: Poor Mr. Picky Pincher lost his headphones during our writing/studying retreat. After looking high and low for them, we realized they weren’t coming back. He purchased a replacement.
- Birthday gifts: We purchased gifts for a few birthdays this month. Pro tip: I always wrap presents in secondhand wrapping. Shhh, it’ll be our little secret.
- Plants: We had coupons for our local nursery that were set to expire. I spent $40 on pots, seeds, and plants after it was all said and done.
Total expenses: $4,278.60
Total expenses with student loans: $8,278.60
Some people have asked about retirement contributions. Great question! I contribute $200 monthly to a Roth IRA, which I don’t count as either an expense or savings. I act like it’s money I never see. Mr. Picky Pincher also contributes to his employer-sponsored 401k, but we also act like we never see that money. I guess it technically counts as savings, but it muddies the water in our calculations, so retirement contributions aren’t included here.
We also don’t include costs for medical, vision, or dental plans, since that comes out of Mr. Picky Pincher’s check.
Savings rate: 50.91%
Cost per meal: $4.12
Oh hey there, savings rate! You lookin’ fiiiiiine. I’m thrilled that we finally hit a 50% savings rate. We’re committed to paying off our student loan debt ahead of schedule so I can pursue my freelance career.
We have a crazy goal in September: to pay off the last of our student loans. I’m so excited! Of course, this hinges on us keeping our act together and saving money wherever possible. I do want to watch our food expenses and Other expenses, although I’m happy to see our progress this month. September will be a little wonky with a pricey trip to Orlando, but I think we can still make the payoff happen.
We want to know: How was your August? Were you a Frugal Francine / Fergus or a Spendy Susie / Stan?
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