November was a relaxed month. Not too much work for Mom, the Thanksgiving holiday and lots of quality time with the kids. IP started sleeping better, LP continued with potty training and our CSA ended. Yep, those are the highlights – obviously it was a slow month!
Every month I will provide a breakdown of our spending in detail, as well as some analysis of where we kept spending down and where we needed to improve. Our goal each month, is to keep our monthly spending to $3500 or less, which includes $2550 of fixed costs, $200 of savings and $750 of non-fixed expenses.
The Money Breakdown for November, 2012
In total we spent $3,878.19 (which includes $2550 in fixed expenses and $200 put away into savings). This includes $1,128.19 spent on non-fixed expenses.
Of the $1,128.19 spent on non-fixed expenses:
- $478.59 was spent on groceries
- $175.00 was spent on LP’s music class
- $156.00 for the G-man’s piano lessons – he has been wanting to learn for a while so this is his Christmas present
- $61.59 on household goods (diapers, garden stuff)
- $85.47 on transportation (we took a trip to Western Mass and to NYC)
- $91.66 on some liquor for some special drinks – cosmos for me and martinis for the G-man
- $54.36 on dining out
- $15.00 on coffee shop goodies
- $10.52 for a book for Mom
If we subtract the cost of LP’s music class (which are paid for through LP’s enrichment fund) from our non-fixed spending we spent $953.19, about $200 more than our goal of spending $750.00 (or less) on our non-fixed expenses every month.
Where we saved:
Our grocery expenses went down this month, in part because we are done with our summer CSA. We had several dinners that I put together simply with pantry ingredients we routinely have on hand (like lentils, canned tomatoes, etc.) in order to minimize grocery trips. We also made sure to keep our dining out down to a minimum. In fact, our dining out expenses were basically from a Groupon and a couple of trips for lunchtime burritos. We have now spent two months without only one big dinner out (which was a gift from my parents). It is amazing how quickly new habits form. I no longer find myself wishing we could get take-out or dine out for dinner on a routine basis. Instead, I have figured out enough meal preparation strategies to make cooking dinner way easier than figuring out what to get from a restaurant. I really thought that not being able to eat out would be a hardship this year, but instead it is turning into something that is no big deal.
Where we spent:
One thing I’m learning this year is that a budget of $750 doesn’t leave any room for “extras.” This month we had two major expenses that pushed us over our budget: a bunch of booze (but quality booze!) and piano lessons for the G-man. If we actually didn’t have the money for these things we wouldn’t buy them. But, the reality is, we are still on track avoid dipping into our saving accounts for another six months, so we can go over budget for things that we really want. I think it is a good reminder of the difference between actually living within a tight budget paycheck to paycheck versus a year of trying to cut back a bit. Since we are doing the latter we can afford these “extras” although we now really see them as the luxury they are.