Planning Ahead to Succeed: November 2016 Budget Outlook

MAY Budget

How did we do with our October budget?

Thumbs-up:

  • I worked 10 shifts.
  • We spent $402.82 of our grocery budget before all of those Ibotta rebates (If you sign up and try through my referral link, you can get $10 cash back after submitting your first rebate).
  • We spent $540 in child care.  It’s a LOT less than the $2500/month we used to pay for three kids in full time care.
  • I signed up for ShopKick and have earned enough to get a $2 Target gift card in one week.
  • I put $250 in my Roth account. I am at $3408 of my $5500 goal.
  • We have a new roof! Insurance has reimbursed us, but the gutters still need to go on before we know our final out of pocket
  • I only bought gas for the van once, spending $32.54.
  • I earned about $1.78 through Google Ad Sense. Whoo hoo? I won’t see any of that until I reach the threshold though. I worked more so I posted less. I earned $0.00 through Amazon.
  • No tuition due this month.
  • I got a $15 for 50 Christmas cards at Staples Groupon deal, plus 12 free cards from Shutterfly, and a free calendar from Shutterfly.
  • I brought drinks and snacks for the kindergarten Halloween party, and spent $4 out of my normal grocery budget plus $8 for juice boxes to make Monster juice boxes. We used things on hand to make them.2016-10-31-08-22-46

Thumbs-down:

  • We spent $381.76 in medical expenses, which includes the twice monthly massage therapy I get for my arthritis.
  • Entertainment spending was just slightly over budget at $110.14. We did improve over last month though!
  • I signed up for Google Fi and replaced my dying cell phone.The new phone and protective case was $278.71. There IS good news though. I have avoided using data when out and about and as of today only have used 220 MB of data our of my 1 GB. I think I will be reimbursed most of my $10 in data!

How is November looking?

  • Once the gutters are on, we get the final tally from our roofer. Estimate: $1000-1500 out of pocket.
  • I picked up 12 and a half shifts this month.
  • I plan on putting $250 towards my Roth. I’m not sure I can squeak more, because we still need to make our big ticket Christmas purchase and expect a very expensive medical bill.
  • I plan on milking a single gas tank again this month. Estimate: $30-35.
  • My kindergartener is in Girl Scouts and I will have to buy a uniform smock or vest plus basic badges for about $25. Our troop came together to donate supplies and we had a few donors, so we should be OK until cookie season is over. Woot!
  • I anticipate $128 in office copays , $50 in medication copays, and $20 of OTC meds.  Massage is $110. We also will have to pay for testing that may be up to $750 cash.
  • Christmas: I am done with shopping for our kids/niece except for the big ticket item we are buying- an Xbox for the kids to share. We’ll also have cash gifts for the teens, my parents, a gift for my in-laws, and flowers for my best friend. My strategy for buying flowers for my bestie and my in-laws is to purchase a Raise.com gift card at 1-800-Flowers for 26% off, then wait until Ebates has a high cash back value (12-15%) and pair it with a sale.  If you want to try Ebates for the first time through my referral link, you’ll get $10 cash back after your first purchase.
  • I am buying food for the PTO’s staff appreciation this month and we may do Pizza for the PTO one day.
  • The mister and I have one date at a favorite restaurant with two other couples. Maybe $100?
  • We will probably do Thanksgiving at my mom’s house, and I will bring something to share. No extra out of pocket planned.
  • I am lunching with friends one afternoon, but my mom is babysitting and we are lunching in and bringing something to share.
  • Other than the local Christmas Parade with scouts (which is free), this will be a low-key month without a lot of special activities. I think we might play around with cooking and baking.
  • I have been trying to get 75 or more Swagbucks per day (referral link), with a goal of earning a $25 gift card every month. My plan is to get 4 Hulu gift cards this year to pay for Hulu, then do Domino’s Pizza for the rest.
  • I also have a lofty goal of getting 1000 Shopkick Kicks every week, which would translate into earning $16 in Target gift cards every month. My strategy is to get kicks and scans at every store I normally shop at, plus take the toddler to the mall once a week for a stroller walk,  getting kicks while we walk. We opted not to pay for a YMCA membership this year, so this will help me get some walking in during the winter.
  • Swimming lessons are officially over until next summer, meaning we will save $300/month.

What are you doing to meet your goals?

 

Planning Ahead to Succeed: October 2016 Budget Outlook

MAY Budget

How did we do with our September budget?

Thumbs-up:

  • I worked 14 shifts. It was horrible and unsustainable, but the paychecks were very, very nice. I did my first weekend shift and they shut down our system for maintenance for most of one day, so I had to hire a sitter anyway. I was told they can’t guarantee not doing it in the future, so I told them I will work one more weekend and that is it. Saving sitter money was the only benefit of working Saturday/Sunday.
  • We came under the $400 grocery budget.
  • We spent $705 in child care. More work equals more child care. It’s still a LOT less than the $2500/month we used to pay for three kids in full time care.
  • I earned $75 for doing a research study, which I used for groceries.
  • Several family members bought popcorn and donated to our son’s cub scout troop.
  • We used gifts from my stockpile for a birthday.
  • I put $700 in my Roth account. Woot!
  • We haven’t had the driveway lifted yet. We finally learned yesterday insurance will pay for a new roof!!! There is depreciation, so we will have to pay a little ourselves.We knew we would need a new roof in 2-3 years even before the tree fell on our house, so even though this has been a huge pain, it is a positive.
  • I only bought gas for the van once to account for my regular non-vacation trips.
  • I earned about $0.44 through Google Ad Sense. Whoo hoo? I won’t see any of that until I reach the threshold though. I worked more so I posted less. I earned $1.92 through Amazon, but I still won’t see that yet.
  • We paid cash for my grad school tuition. We have only one payment left!!!

Thumbs-down:

  • We spent $433.77 in medical expenses, which includes the twice monthly massage therapy I get for my arthritis.
  • We had our first weekend alone in 5 years and went to a Star Trek convention. We spent about$1000. We budgeted for it, but dropping a grand is hard for us.
  • Entertainment spending was crazy high at $150. We’ve got to put the kibosh on it this month.
  • Our son destroyed his shoes (he drags his toes), and the sole came completely away from the upper on his cheap Amazon shoes. The toes were showing through too. We went out and bought new better quality shoes for $55 on sale.
  • We finally bought our son a cub scout uniform. The used market is not great, and it was $100.

How is October looking?

  • My phone is circling the drain and any day I expect it to blow up in my face. I convinced my husband to try something other than an expensive phone and staying on our $100/month T-Mobile plan. I am getting a $249 Nexus 5X and trying Google Project Fi. I am signing up for 1 GB of data only, so a $20 base price and $10 of data per month. I am almost always home to use our wireless, and plan on getting reimbursed for that $10 of data as much as possible every month. I hope to save $25 or more every month.  If it works OK for me, my husband will switch too, as his phone is compatible. Paying $100/month for cell phones is just crazy.
  • Our roofer comes today and we find out how much we will be paying towards our roof. We have a problem over our morning room every winter with ice dams and leaking, even with heat cables. We will probably pay a little more for a leak-proof roof. Estimate: $1000-2000 out of pocket.
  • I picked up quite a few shifts, but they are starting to cancel some. I am keeping the sitter those days anyway, however, to work on things due for school as well as some writing work. I should have 8 shifts minimum.
  • I plan on putting $250 towards my Roth.
  • I filled my gas tank this past weekend and hope to milk it for a full month. It was $30.
  • My kindergartener has joined Girl Scouts and I am volunteering as one of three troop leaders. I have made a Pinterest board with frugal girl scout ideas. I will have to buy a uniform smock or vest (around $20) and pay about $30 in dues.
  • I anticipate $210 in office copays , $50 in medication copays, and $20 of OTC meds. I learned I have a hypothyroid this past week (thank you wayward immune system!), so it’s a new monthly medicine and a few extra visits/labs over the next few months.
  • Christmas: I am done with shopping for our kids/niece except for the big ticket item we are buying- an Xbox for the kids to share. We’ll also have cash gifts for the teens, my parents, a gift for my in-laws, and flowers for my best friend. I’m looking for a free photo calendar deal right now. I think I will be doing Vistaprint postcards this year for our cards.
  • I am buying food for the PTO’s staff appreciation this month and we may do Pizza for the PTO one day.
  • The mister and I have one date at a German/Hungarian restaurant- maybe $60?
  • I am making cupcakes from scratch for Halloween parties from ingredients we already have.
  • We are going to the local pumpkin patch that does not charge to get in, and spending $10 or less on pumpkins.
  • We are going to the local Renaissance Festival and have already bought half price tickets through a deal. We’ll have to pay for parking ($5?). We’ll probably pay for some kid games ($20), but will bring our food and water and say a big NO to purchasing anything.
  • This month is Halloween. We have leftover stickers we bought three years ago, and will be buying 360 Tootsie Rolls from Oriental Trading for $8.99.

What are you doing to meet your goals?

Planning Ahead to Succeed: September 2016 Budget Outlook

 

MAY Budget

I know, it’s already mid-September! It’s been pretty hellacious with my grad school homework and travel, so I am finally sitting down to write this. 

How did we do with our August budget?

Thumbs-up:

  • I was able to pick up 8 shifts, which is twice what I expected at the beginning of the month.
  • We had our pricey date night for $100, and I went out with friends to dinner and one of those new breakout rooms. That was a lot of fun and I would absolutely do it again. It was about $25 per person to do it though. We also stopped for donuts at a popular local donut spot. It was my only night out, so I only spent about $45 of my personal $100 entertainment spending for August.
  • We spent $420 in child care. My mom babysat for free one day and I was able to get my friend’s teens to babysit one day when our sitter was not available. They cost the same as our sitter however.
  • We traveled to Cleveland to see my in-laws and celebrate their 50th anniversary. We stayed at their house. We used 3 tanks of gas, for a total of $120, and took a trip to a beach on Lake Erie, which was free. We spent about $90 in meals out on the way there and back.
  • Our 5 year old passed her shrimp challenge at the allergist’s office and is 100% food allergy free! That means no more Epi-pens and we don’t have to drag Benadryl around with us either.
  • I put $250 in my Roth account.
  • We haven’t had the driveway lifted yet. We are still fighting with the insurance about our roof. It was patched, and the shingles don’t match, so our roof looks like a patchwork quilt. We are hopeful it will be replaced though- our HOA won’t stand for a patchwork roof.
  • August was a five-week month for grocery purposes. We spent $504.98 in food, including the food we were responsible for bringing to the 50th anniversary party.
  • I got $10 in Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks.
  • I only bought gas for the van once to account for my regular non-vacation trips.  In fact, I am still milking that same tank, and it’s mid-September.
  • I earned about $1.50 through Google Ad Sense. Whoo hoo? I won’t see any of that until I reach the threshold though.

Thumbs-down:

  • Our 2 year old was scratched in the eye by the grandparents’ cat while on vacation. We spent the expected $160 in medical copays, but had to pay an additional $95 in urgent care, extra follow-up visits, and medications. Darn cat!
  • My Toys R Us gift card was empty, so I spent about $50 on a baby gift our of pocket.
  • The cheap sheets we got for our girls’ twin beds were already falling apart. This time we bought quality ones from Land’s End, as well as comforters, using Ebates and a coupon code. We spent $286, and these better last at least a decade, if not more. I always regret not buying quality. (The Ebates link is my referral link. If you try it for the first time, you’ll start off with $10 cash back after your first purchase. If you buy online a lot, it is worth using.)
  • Lots of clicks, but no earnings for my Amazon affiliate. I haven’t added any more affiliates yet, as I’ve not had a lot of time beyond school, work, kids, and textbook writing work.
  • We got notice from our HOA that everyone’s yearly fee will increase over the next few years to pay for repairs to the swimming pool and other common areas.

How is September looking?

  • This month changes have started at work. We are moving from business days only to 365-days coverage. I have agreed to cover some weekend days over and above the weekday shifts I take. I will generally be doing every other weekend (Saturday and Sunday), but have not agreed to cover any weekends that land on holidays. I am a contractor, so I can opt out of any weekend days I want. Right now, that is going to be Thanksgiving and Christmas, and some days next June. I have picked up 14 days in September, the most I have worked since dropping to part-time. This will help me aggressively work towards my Roth goal.
  • I already put $450 extra towards my Roth last week, and I expect the usual $250 to put towards it at the end of the month. This should put me at $3200 towards my $5500 goal by end of month. I’ll have to put $766/month towards my Roth through the end of the year to meet my goal. I have already agreed to pick up quite a few days through the end of the year.
  • I expect to fill my gas tank only once, sometime this week. That should be about $35-40.
  • I made an extra $75 by doing a study, and I will use it for groceries. I hope to come under budget for food this month. There will be $31 of food in our Amazon Subscribe and Save order. After this week using cash and using the $75 gift card at end of month, I think we may be $300 or less.
  • I anticipate $135 in office copays , $40 in medication copays, and $40 of OTC meds.
  • Vacation: the mister and I went to a Star Trek convention in Chicago last weekend. We already paid for tickets and a William Shatner photo op, but we needed to pay for hotel, travel, and food. The hotel was $442.32 and the cost included parking and meals in the hotel. We spent $80 in gas to drive there, and $200 in meals out (out with friends one night, a fancy dinner to celebrate our anniversary, and two stops at Cracker Barrel there and back. We also bought Starbucks (a rare treat) and candy for the kids. In all, we spent $757, not including tickets and photo op, which were $300. Yep, $1000 is a lot. The last time the mister and I took any kind of vacation together was 5 years ago for a weekend trip to see friends in Chicago (a much cheaper jaunt) and then 10 years ago for our honeymoon to Maui. We’ve been in baby jail a loooong time.
  • We are having three family outings this month, to the zoo and apple orchard. We’ll have to pay admission to the zoo, and will pay for what we pick at the orchard. I plan on making applesauce and freezing. Our son will probably do the Cub Scout’s Spook-o-ree too, though admission should be low.
  • We’re working on landscaping more this year, and I am budgeting for planting mums (already done) plus a couple fall decorating things (maybe some hay bales and a reusable wooden sign?). I’m looking for deals on those. Can you reuse hay bales, or do they rot? I want to keep them out through Thanksgiving. We’ll get pumpkins at the patch in October.
  • We are ignoring most PTO fundraisers, but are buying wallets-only for kindergarten and 3rd grade pictures and are doing one night of Pizza for the PTO this month. I anticipate $58 for pictures (crazy, I know!) and $45 for pizza.
  • I’m going to have very little time to spend my own fun money, but I am having dinner with a couple friends at the end of the month and we are having lunch with my dad and a cousin after apple picking. I usually pay for dad, since he is retired and on a fixed income.

What are you doing to meet your goals?

Planning Ahead to Succeed: August 2016 Budget Outlook

MAY Budget

 

How did we do with our July budget?

Thumbs up:

  • We spent $413.24 in groceries, just slightly over our $100 per week budget.
  • I was able to pick up 16+ work days. This includes regular work days covering for people who are off and time doing discharges, which can be done on the weekend to save us child care expenses. This is the most I have worked since I dropped to a contract position, and it was a little rough. Our regular sitter has been on vacation since mid-July, and most of those extra shifts happened the last two weeks of July. I cobbled together a couple of sitters and we paid $1220 in child care overall, which included a little bonus to my friend’s teen daughters who basically stayed with us an entire week while I worked. Even with the child care expense, plus a couple extra pizza nights, my net income for the month will be about $2400. Part will have to cover me while I take the first two weeks of August off, but I hope to have a little extra to put toward my Roth.
  • I filed for unclaimed funds back in January. Apparently I never picked up my last paycheck from Kmart when I was 17. I finally got a check in the mail for $104. Yes, 32 hours of work got me $104 after taxes back in 1995. I’m so glad I no longer earn $4.35 an hour.
  • Our insurance inspector came and we were told they will cover the fallen tree, about 20 shingles on our roof, a window screen, and part of the gutter. After our deductible, the check we got was for $2400. Our roofer will come and try to patch with the shingles the insurance database says will match. If we aren’t happy with the look, we go back to insurance and ask for a full replacement. It will be a few weeks before we see how it turns out.
  • In the continuing saga of things breaking down, the ice maker in our freezer croaked and flooded the freezer. We aren’t really going to fix it, and will just leave it off. We don’t really use ice anyway, except for parties.
  • The plastic handle of our microwave broke off spontaneously. Really. I tried duct taping it, but it was a no go. The mister is going to try to glue it, but isn’t certain it will work. Right now I am using a fork to jimmy open the door. We might end up buying a new one :(.
  • I was able to save $250 towards my Roth IRA from my salary.
  • We paid $4317.67 in cash for my tuition.
  • I spent about $200 through Ebay and Amazon replacing my too small boots and dress shoes (original prices were$400+). We spent about $36 in pull-ups for the toddler, who is now back on a potty training strike.
  • I earned about $1-2 from Google ads and $6.79 from my Amazon affiliate. I won’t get either until I reach a threshold of $100 though.

Thumbs down:

  • The final bill came for the dental implant I got this month, and we owe $361. We paid much less than we expected to pay for it though, so no big deal.
  • We spent more than we planned on entertainment. We decided to pay for everyone’s meal when we took our dad out for his birthday. Our friend unexpectedly decided to visit from Quebec, and we treated her and our sitters with one of her local favorites. We went to the movies twice (matinee prices+ Ebates).  We are tightwads, but we aren’t poor. Spending money on the people we love within reason is not really a thumbs down.
  • I paid about $80 in gas for my van this month, which is twice my normal.

How is August looking?

  • We will have extra gas expenses thanks to a road trip coming up this month (estimating 3-4 tanks of gas in the van, or about $120-160). School starts the second week of August however, and my normal usage will drop. Two of our three are school age and both will ride the bus.
  • I only have 4 work shifts lined up so far, and my mom is babysitting for one of them, as our usual sitter is not available that day. I plan on working extra time doing discharges when child care is not needed to boost the hours. There was talk of weekend shifts, but nothing has come to fruition yet. Once the first week of school is over, both our sitter and I will be more available, and I hope to pick up a few more days. I estimate around $500 in child care expenses.
  • I have one baby shower this month. I think I have a ToysRUs/BabiesRUs gift card, so I might use that to buy the gift.
  • The mister and I have one out of the house date night planned with two other couples. It will be a pricey date- about $100. We only go to this restaurant 1-2 times per year. The other couples both are driving from another city, so this place is at the halfway point. I may also be going to a girl’s night at one of those break-out rooms, but the date is not solid yet.
  • We plan on using our amusement park passes with my sister once this month. We ended up canceling in July due to the volume of my homework. We’re not planning any other kid activities that cost money. Our 5 year old has a deal with me that she gets a Chick-Fil-A date if she reads a book independently all the way through, but I don’t think it will happen this month.
  • We have at least four medical appointments, and estimate at least $160 out of pocket. One of those appointments is a shrimp oral challenge for our daughter at the allergist’s office. If she passes, she will no longer need an Epi-pen, saving us the cost of buying one every year (plus the cost we pay in fear worrying about exposure to the allergen!)
  • The right half of our driveway is sinking near the garage and needs to be lifted. We’re not sure what the cost will be, but plan on getting an estimate this month. $1000 maybe? (Any ideas readers?)
  • I should be able to put $250 minimum in my Roth and hopefully $300-500 extra.

 


July Budget Outlook

MAY Budget

How did we do with our June budget?

Thumbs up:

  • We spent $404.70 in groceries, essentially keeping to our $100 per week budget.
  • I was able to pick up 10 work days. This includes regular work days covering for people who are off, training, and time doing discharges, which can be done on the weekend to save us child care expenses. I had to cancel one shift thanks to the tree-falls-on-house incident and work canceled one shift on me. We spent about $700 in child care.
  • Our son leveled up in swimming classes at Aquatots, bringing us closer to the time we can nix that expense for him. He is now level 4 out of 8. Miss E is close to leveling up herself.
  • We had storm damage, as did many of our neighbors. Our homeowners insurance covered $2500 to remove the tree that fell on our house, and we had to pay $1000 for the deductible plus $300 for the non-covered stump removal. My husband spent three hours removing the remainder of the tree roots from the lawn using a pickaxe. We have some roof damage, but won’t know what will be covered until the inspector comes next week.
  • Our reverse osmosis filter croaked and my husband replaced a faulty valve himself.
  • I was able to save $250 towards my Roth IRA from my salary.
  • We had planned on building a play set and have approval from the Homeowners Association, but we’ve decided to put it off. I pay tuition next week, we still anticipate several hundred more in medical expenses, and we may have to pay out of pocket for non-covered roof expenses. The mister wants to roofer to put a special seal over our morning room, as we tend to get ice dams there in winter and have had leaks. We really need a fence too, for safety reasons, but I think it is not going to happen this year.

Thumbs down:

  • Although I could save $250 last month, I couldn’t save the $750 I wanted, thanks to unexpected out of pocket medical expenses totaling $500. On the bright side, it came out of my check and not out of savings.
  • Our cell phones are four years old. We paid cash for them in 2012 and they have served us well, but they are starting to have problems like refusing to turn on and off, won’t update, and randomly turning off. My husband’s completely croaked last week and we bought a new Nexxus for him with cash and Amazon gift card. We paid less than half the price we paid for each phone in 2012. We are waiting until September or later to replace mine. We have smart phones, and considered going with dumb phones or trying Republic Wireless, but I couldn’t convince him to do so (you win some, you lose some). With the amount of data we use, we would only be saving $5/month on our bill, and the mister wants to have access to certain things since he travels for work. I hate paying $100/month for our two cell phone plans and we probably deserve a facepunch for it.
  • We spent more than we planned on entertainment, mostly due to eating out the last week of the month.

How is July looking?

  • My husband’s gas use has not changed, but my gas usage  doubled during June. I paid $80 instead of the $35-40 I did during the school year. I anticipate July will be the same.
  • I have potentially 10 work shift to pick up, with some possibly extra work hours entering backlogged discharges during non business hours (I am going to shoot for 16 hours). We may be changing to a 7-day per week department instead of just providing business hour coverage, but that is not solid yet. If this happens, I may be able to work weekend days without paying a sitter or just a few hours of sitter coverage on Sunday. Between family coverage from Grandma and off-shift hours, partial Sunday coverage, and our regular sitter, I estimate it could be up to $700 in child care again. I won’t know for sure until I find out which days actually pan out and who can babysit.
  • The extra work means I might be able to save a little extra in my 2016 Roth fund. I need to wait and see how that next medical bill turns out.
  • We have multiple family birthdays in July. I am buying a toy for my niece for about $20-25 and we will do a gift card, dinner, and some groceries for my dad for around $50. My in-laws have their anniversary (50th!) at the beginning of August and I usually go through Ebates (referral link) to buy flowers  through Proflowers or FTD and get cash back when I do. I try to spend around $40 for this and go with whoever has the nicest cash back amount. I can usually get between 12-15% cash back for flowers through Ebates.
  • The mister and I haven’t had an out of house date since May. We did our in-home date during June. We have an Olive Garden gift card and want to see the new Star Trek movie as a matinee.  We are planning on dropping the kids off with Grandma and seeing the movie and then having dinner near the end of the month. Our summer fun is otherwise going to be at the neighborhood pool, splash parks, hiking, playing outside, and maybe a trip to get ice cream.
  • We plan on using our amusement park passes with my sister at the end of the month.
  • My sister and I are going to see the Absolutely Fabulous movie during matinee hours while Grandma babysits. I am having lunch with a friend and we got a group discount coupon for $10 for a $20 meal at a local hippie joint that serves lots of vegetarian food.
  • We have at least five medical appointments, and estimate at least $400 out of pocket. We’ll have at least $70 in medication costs.