While I purposely did not make any goals for August, I thought I would go ahead and write a review post on how the month went. Overall, there are two important things I can celebrate that happened this month! First, I didn’t get fired or quit, but actually got a nice raise. Second, I didn’t go over budget although I came pretty close. Currently there is only $54 in our account, but that’s better than overspending and using credit cards! Recently, I have found that our money is lasting us longer. A few months ago, I had a goal to “challenge every expense”. I went down each budget line and tried to eliminate or reduce each category. My goal at the time was to find more money to put towards paying off the mortgage. I have since stepped back a little on this goal, but I am reaping the benefits of that exercise in my monthly budget. Here is a quick snapshot of how that worked for me:
- Cable bill – Reduced by $23.74
- Canceled some kid activities – $79 for swimming (my husband found a friend who is teaching my son for free), $45 language lessons, $70 taekwondo lessons, $60 piano lesson for my daughter.
- Reduced college funds – instead of $100 a month on each kid, we are only saving $50 total for both now.
- House cleaning – canceled my service and now use a family friend who is trying to get her business up and running. She is charging me $70 less than what I was paying.
- Eating out – overall we are still horrible on food related expenses, but my husband has decided to start packing a lunch a few days a week. I am not sure what prompted this or how long it will last! Perhaps 10+ years of nagging have paid off finally!
While none of this magically has given us more money for debt reduction, it has helped us simply live within our means. Its crazy how much we were overspending and not really knowing it!
Additionally, I have noticed my spending habits have changed. I am much more conscience of what I am buying. I don’t find myself roaming the aisle of Target with shopping cart full of things I often buy that I don’t need (clothes for my daughter, toys/books for my kids and hair products). In fact, I am finding it easier to stay out of Target all together! I now do most of my grocery shopping at Safeway where I can get better deals plus 2% cash back with my credit card. On the other hand, I find myself more generous towards causes that tug at my heart. For example, I was able to give a small donation towards the flood victims in Louisiana. Typically I would have wanted to donate, but not had the funds available.
I have also changed my budget a bit. Before I had an “other” category which I would use for all expenses that didn’t have a budget line. For example, my husband wanted to donate money this month to a cause he is supporting. In the past, I would just mentally know that the money would come out from the other category. What would often happen is that I would overspend on the “other” category because I would lose track of all that I had planned to spend. Now I have removed the other category completely. As soon as I know of something that we need to spend, I add it to a monthly working budget. This adjustment has helped me more carefully examine all the extra things I need to spend money on and helps me plan for them.
I know August was a hard one for a lot of my fellow bloggers, but what are you celebrating that happened in August?