In conjunction with the Living on Less Than $28,000 A Year series, I started sharing periodic Financial Updates about our family’s finances. I don’t always give specific numbers, but I thought it might be helpful for those of you in a similar situation to take a peek at how things go at our house.
September was full of surprises for our family. After nine long months of waiting we were finally able to pay for a “new to us” van (read more here). We have been saving and looking for a good deal for so long that it seemed surreal to actually get the vehicle.
We were also able to get a super discount on tickets to a local amusement park. It was a splurge, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take my three girls to the park for $45 total!
As for my goal to put money aside in the Emergency Fund, it didn’t happen. In addition to the amusement park splurge, we overspent in the household/toiletry category by $56, the clothing category by $12, groceries by $24 and the miscellaneous category by $50. These may seem like trivial amounts, but because our income is lower, these are actually quite significant. If I had kept to the budget we would have had $187 to add to savings.
In addition to our Emergency Fund being low, the funds in our Freedom Account (read more here) are low as well. We had another car repair which cost $167. Thankfully the money was in the car repair category of the Freedom Account, but that only left us with $30 for future repairs.
The good news is that we had money to pay for everything that we needed and we continue to be debt free. The bad news is that overspending prevented us from saving money, which we need to do.
So my goal for October is to fund the categories in our Freedom Account with the regular weekly amount (for example: $20/week into the car insurance category, etc.) and to add at least $100 to the Emergency Fund. Hopefully by making our financial goals specific, I will do a better job of actually accomplishing them. 🙂
How did you do last month? Were you able to stick to your budget? Leave a comment so we can encourage each other.
I found this web site awhile ago but today decided to take a look again. My husband and i make 32000-35000/ year. I spend 110.00/wk on groceries for our family of 7 (6 with Gluten allergies)
This summer was hard on us with budgeting. Life seems to hit hard sometimes. I am getting back on track as is my husband. I will be hanging around your site a lot for encouragement. Thank you.
Wow Manda–you do a great job with the groceries! I recently increased our budget to $125 a week for the six of us. I’m glad you’re here. 🙂
For the first time, I tried using actual cash (gasp!) for groceries and entertainment. Those are the 2 areas that mess us up every month. And just having those little folders (we do a virtual wallet account) wasn’t working. For the first time (ever?, but at least in a year of budgeting) the funds worked out. No moving money around because we’d gone crazy at the grocery or I’d been too lazy to cook dinner.
Thanks for all your encouragement! It’ s nice to have the support…and someone to celebrate with! Woo hoo!
Yeah! 🙂 I found the same thing. Once I took the grocery money out in cash and put in the envelope, I was much less likely to overspend. I’m glad to be an encouragement to you.
I just want to give you a Huzzah! I have struggled with trying to keep a budget for 10 years and it wasn’t until I read your blog that I found a system that works for me. I finally feel confident about how I manage my family’s money and can see the light of living debt free in my future! So a huge Thanks from me (and the Hubby) I couldn’t have done it without you! 🙂
Wow Heather–thanks so much for letting me know. It was my hope to encourage others in their financial journey, so it’s nice to hear when it happens. 🙂
Hi Kimberlee! Not bad stats for September for you! Glad you can see “room for improvement”. I see it every month, even when we don’t see “red” in our budget. September was a very good month. I used your meal plans to help me figure out menus for the last 2 weeks and that helped me stay in budget and even ‘splurge” on a bbq with friends! We still only have $1000 in our emergency fund, and since all our “funds (same as your freedom accnt) have mostly been emptied out it’s been an interesting ride! BUT, we now have NO credit card debt (or CC’ds!) as of this week! I knew if we stayed “on budget” we could make two big payments and we did, one to the last remaining CC’d (gone!) and one to the local hospital. 2 more pymnts to go and I pray, Lord willing, that by December 31st I will be 1/2 debt free and 2/3’s funded for all those yearly and semi yearly needs. Remember, we have no kidlets nor do we need a newer car (yet!) It’s not about the income, as you have shown, it’s about self discipline, wants vs needs and priority. And Flexibility that doesn’t get us back into debt. Thanks Kimberlee, love your blog.
Wow Barbara! Congrats on paying off your credit cards!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woohoo!!!!! o/
;o) Thanks Kimberlee. When I made that payment I was hoping for a little fan fare. But, apparently the credit card company isn’t as thrilled as I am!
Well September was a little tough to stay on track we had extra clothes and 2 birthdays and a three week situation where I es having to drie extra far and bought too much fast food because I wasn’t getting home till late. But I’m super pumped to stay on track this month!! No fast food for sure, no excuses.
Good for you for making a commitment to not eating fast food. Good luck!
September was a rough month for us as well but God is providing in ways that I could not even imagine! We are using a Freedom account of sorts because of your post. I do find it easier to budget for clothing and auto repairs each month.
Sorry September was a difficult month, but good for you for making a plan! 🙂
I have only been tracking our expenses since June, but we are in our budget for the second time! Just trying to figure out now where else we can cut expenses.
Great job Rachel!
I love your updates. I read them every time you post (after I see it on FB). This inspired me 2 months ago to auto-transfer money for those “odd” bills that happen (car ins, contact lenses, home buyers ins, personal prop ins) and then when we get the bill I just transfer it back into the checking account and pay the bill. That way it’s not such a big hit to our checking account. And since it’s transfered every paycheck (twice a month) it’s minimal. So thank you for your inspiration.
You are very welcome Sherri!
September was the first full month we followed a set budget and we did great! We stayed under $400 for the month in groceries for our family of 4 and a half (i’m due with baby #3 on Oct 19). And we also came under on gas and fast food since I was so determined to do well that I stayed in the house more often. I packed lunches for my husband and we decided that $20 every 2 weeks was our “splurge” money for fast food, drinks, coffees, etc. Once that cash was gone, so was the “splurging”. We didn’t charge a single thing onto credit in September!
We use Wellsfargo for banking and set up our debit card to automatically put $1 into our savings each time we use it. So we saved a little extra this month. We also started using their online “Money Map” which tracks all of our expenses and puts them into categories. I was able to track as far back as July and see that we spent over $800 in groceries and over $200 on fast food that month! No wonder we were having to pull out our credit cards at the end of the month when our bank account was empty! Now that we are signed up with this program I will get an alert e-mail when we are spending too much.
Thanks for all of your great ideas. Your website gave me the push I needed to really do this. With the 3rd baby coming and a slow winter work season ahead for my husband, we are going to find A LOT of value in your advice.
That’s awesome Rachel! Way to go!!! So glad that I could encourage you. 🙂
We had a rough month… but we moved to a different state. I always forget how much moving costs! But we have a plan 🙂 and hopefully that will all work out. Just praying that we can sell (or rent) our home!
I think you have a good plan! Stick to it!
Thanks for your encouragement Jerilyn. Sorry you had a hard month. You’ll get back on track soon!