I love it when it when a plan comes together! In November we came within $50 of our monthly spending plan. It is these types of months that make me feel like we properly anticipated our future expenses. This month I decided to lump all the smaller expenses into the “Other Bills” category to make it easier to discuss.
We review our plan twice a year in December and June. We adjust for any new information we did not have at the last adjustment. These things include changes in salary for either of us, new travel plans, etc. Adding a new baby into the mix will increase our budget by 20% in the next 6-months. Yikes!
I use Personal Capital to keep track of our spending. Given how many different cards we use to manage our household finances, I find that this is the best free online tool available to help me keep track.
Top 3 Spending Categories (Housing, Transportation, Food)
Food is usually NOT one our top categories month over month. But this month, our grocery expenses almost doubled. We hosted Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving at our house this year, which would have contributed to this temporary increase. But bigger picture, Im noticing that our weekly spending has picked up a bit. I’ll attribute this to two things. First, apparently kids need to eat and they eat more and more as they get older. Second, although my wife has returned to work, she is doing so mainly from home. This means that she is more likely to eat at home vs. at a restaurant (which does not count toward the household food budget). We increased our grocery budget during the last adjustment back in June and I think we’ll need to adjust again for the next 6 months.
Our transportation expenses tripled this month, although it was coming from a very low base in October. Nothing out of the ordinary here. In fact, it was so small that you might notice that this category did not make it onto the pie chart. If you’re curious, it was about 4% of our budget.
Housing, transportation and food represent the bulk of the average household’s expenses. For our family, this trio represented just 35% of expenses this month.
NOLA here we come! We are celebrating our 4 year wedding anniversary in New Orleans, kid-free! The bulk of our spending in travel this month went toward our hotel stay and some other activities (cooking class, mixology class) that we pre-booked. So far we’ve spent a total of ~$700 on this trip, including our flights and hotel stays. We’ll have more details out later.
We are currently putting money way for future house renovations and to pay back my wife for an interest-free loan she provided to the household. Any given month this category would be a small portion our our spending plan and would not be a point of discussion. However, I’ve neglected to contribute to these accounts the last few months while we were playing catch up due to unforeseen car issues back in July.
Progress toward Financial Independence (FIRE)
We discussed our future spending plans this month, where I had every intention of resuming our savings towards FIRE! But the realization of daycare for two kids hit us really hard. Because of the future increase in cost, I (personally) will have to choose between staying on the path to paying off my student loans aggressively or maximizing my 401K contributions. So in November we did not make any active contributions to our “FIRE” fund.
We’ve had 4 good months in a row to help us recover from the disasters we had in June and July. We have some travel coming up in December and January where I am anticipating that we will spend a few extra dollars. And then the cycle starts all over again! It took me a long time to stomach these ups and downs and inconsistencies. The key is to build an extra little cushion and to pay attention to your prior spending to get an idea of what the future might hold. Keep us in your FIRE thoughts as we try to get through December.
Is there anything I can address better in future posts? How do you track your finances?