Tuesday, May 29, 2012

April Budget

I only just now posted our March budget. Go here to check out that post and follow our progress.

A couple of months ago I confessed that I was revamping the way I buy groceries. It has been really hard to do this, because it is so easy to buy cheap stuff, but it's not stuff that I want my kids to be eating. Unfortunately, about the same time we decided we wanted to spend more money on groceries, I lost my job. We've talked and tweaked and discussed and modified and we're working hard to make a budget that works for us. These are the things we've decided from all this gabbing we've done:
  • We want to pay more attention to the foods we are buying instead of the money we are spending
  • We don't want to spend more than we are making
  • We want to get out of debt
  • We want to buy local
  • We want to be able to have some "fun" money and not feel guilty for splurging every so often
  • We want to be happy with what we have and make sure our kids are healthy and happy
  • We want to remember that no matter our circumstances, we're relying on God to provide for us
We made a budget for February, and it was pretty much made of numbers we pulled out of the air. After looking at how we did in February, we re-vamped the budget a little bit for March to see what changes we could make, and made a few more changes in April.

If this is something you are interested in, this is the budget template I downloaded from Faithful Provisions. I won't disclose every little financial detail of our budget, but I do want to show you some of our findings.

April was a month that, to be honest, scared me. We have all these set expenses like water bills, electricity bills, mortgages, etc. but what happens when you have to pile on a bunch of stuff on top of that? This month we were going to have a lot of extra expenses which included cooking snacks for our Easter drama at church, making snacks for Brianna's Easter party at school, making snacks for a fish-fry at a friend's house, cooking snacks for our ladies group at church, doing snacks for a week at Brianna's preschool, and the biggest event of all.... Brianna's 3rd birthday party. So, suffice it to say at the beginning of April I was not really feeling that financial trust in God that I was hoping to have. Rather I was wondering how in the heck this was all going to come together.

As usual, God's provisions came through, as I should have known. Let this be a lesson to me in May. :)

Now, on to the nitty gritty!

I predicted that I would earn $75 from mystery shopping. I was happy to see my actual income from this was $132.57.

I predicted that I would earn $20 from surveys and rebate checks. Unfortunately, this was a slow month and I made just $9.25 in this area.

I predicted that I would earn $10 from miscellaneous income (selling household items, etc.). I was happy to see my actual income from this was $67.52. I did well at Fifi's, The Classy Paci, and eBay.

As usual, many of our payments are set in stone. This includes our mortgage, power bill, cell phone bill, security system, cable/internet/home phone, truck payment, motorcycle payment, World Vision donation, gym membership, and school tuition for Brianna.

I was able to really cut costs on diapers and baby wipes this month. I knew we were going to be spending a lot of money on things like snacks for church and on Brianna's birthday party in general, so I was really careful about only putting Hunter in cloth diapers during the day, and regular diapers at night. Brianna (our 3-year old) is officially no longer in diapers, so Hunter can use the Pull-ups that I purchased for her. I was also more focused on making baby wipes so I could use less of the disposable ones. So for those of you who have always wondered about how much money it would save to commit to cloth diapers - in the month of April we spent almost $71 on diapers and baby wipes alone. Obviously I was going to town on those wipes, hah! And we were buying diapers and the pull-ups. This month, due to the changes that I made and the fact that Brianna is in full-time undies, we spent just $2.44 on diapers/baby wipes. No coupons used.

This month we budgeted $200 for groceries. We were able to stay just under that goal, spending $199.83  on groceries (does include farmer's markets purchases).

We budgeted $100 for eating out as a family. We ended up spending $66.90. We had family come in town twice during the month, and then we "splurged" by getting takeout at Ruby Tuesday one night. I got a free burger for my birthday (back in December!) so my meal was free and all we had to pay for was Stephen's (we were eating at home so we just made the kids something from the pantry).

Remember last month when Stephen decided he was going to quit eating out for one month in order to save up for a new wedding band? He made it! I am proud of him. Although I don't think it's hard to go without eating out, he is in an environment at work where everybody except for him eats out. I can imagine it's very tempting!!

We were hoping to spend $650 on gas. We are getting better though - last month we spent $685 and this month it was $678! Hah! Hopefully as the weather gets nicer, Stephen will be riding his motorcycle more and we will be spending less on gas. Also, in the next couple of months school will be out so we will be traveling less as well.

We budgeted $200 for Brianna's birthday party and we were able to stay well under that budget. I budgeted $60 to be spent for the church snacks, ladies group snacks, and all the snacks for Brianna's preschool I was able to stay under that budget by $20. I also stayed under my budget for my Secret Sister.

Now for the bad news. Our miscellaneous expenses were through the roof. Some were choices we made, and some were things we couldn't avoid. We decided to upgrade our Internet speed, for example. We were told that for $5 extra every month our speed would double. This was worth it to us because I work online. Faster our Internet is = More I get paid!  Unfortunately, in order to double the speed we found out we were going to have to buy a new router. Bam, there went $85. We were told that our insurance would cover my vision exam 100%. Turns out we were misinformed and I had to shell out $71 for my exam and contacts. This also includes Stephen's haircuts. We had a couple of car repairs that happened unexpectedly, which ran us $102. This includes our medications as well. We bought Brianna's school pictures for $30. We paid $150 for mulch, which we hadn't done around the house in years. We had our annual propane payment which was $250. We also decided it was worth it to pay $250 for The Mosquito Authority to come to our house. That is a one-time fee which will last all season. Totally worth it to be able to play outside without coming inside itchy all over! Between all these expenses and a few "fun" ones (yard sale items, other things like that) we had over $1000 in miscellaneous expenses. The good news is that we only spent just at $100 on the "fun" stuff, which I don't think is out of the question.

When all is said and done, we finished in the black. No matter what surprise expenses come up (like my random flat tire or the fact that we had to upgrade our router), we want to be financially wise enough that those expenses don't bring us down or put us in debt. Thank the Lord we don't have medical expenses or cars that aren't safe or anything like that.

I would love to hear any feedback you have for us - tips, support, what you do, etc. Although I would like to say, you don't need to direct me to any links concerning Dave Ramsey or Clark Howard. I adore both of these men, but we are planning our budget based on what works best for us. I do appreciate any other personal advice though!

Where does my meager income come from? Check it out! For the month of April:


Kalyn said...

I have started cutting Don's hair and that has saved us $12 every 2 weeks. Not sure if that would work for you guys but it's been good for us. Even though it's a pain in my tail :)

Amanda said...

Thanks Kalyn! That is something we've actually thought of doing in the past - I know a lot of military do it because it's so easy. Seems like we can never find the time to do it but maybe we should carve out the time. It would save us a little money at least - haircuts are $7 on base and he usually gets a haircut every 3-4 weeks.