In the past, I’ve made budgets and tried to stay on them. But it’s a little difficult when your spouse doesn’t share your enthusiasm and sees no harm in spending money at will.
April was not perfect. We did go over budget in some categories. But we were also under budget in others.
In the end, we stayed within the boundaries of our income – meaning, we didn’t borrow from savings or charge anything.
I’m learning where we have to account for more in the budget, and where we have to set strict limits.
All in all, I consider April a success considering our long history of money mismanagement.
Here are some highlights.
The Good & The Bad
Here’s what was good and bad about the month of April:
- GOOD: We didn’t use any funds from our savings account for anything! This is big, folks. When I ran a report for savings transfers over the last 12 months, this is the first time we haven’t spent any of our savings!
- GOOD: We stayed under our budget for eating out. And, our budget was only $200! Normally we average around $500 for restaurant food, so this was a big win for us!
- BAD: We went way over budget for gas, mostly because of the huge truck my husband recently purchased. Almost $70 to fill both of its tanks! I told him we’re not driving it unless we have an emergency that requires a truck.
- BAD: We also went way over our grocery budget, but I guess that’s to be expected since we ate out a lot less. Still, I think I can get our grocery bill lower next month.
- GOOD: About halfway through April, I planned out a dinner calendar for the rest of the month. It really helped us to stay on track with what we budget for food. In May I’ll create a calendar for the whole month, and get the majority of our groceries in the first week.
- BAD: I wasn’t able to put as much towards debt as I wanted to. In fact, it was just the minimum payments. I need to figure out a way to bring in more income over the summer so we can make bigger dents in the balance.
- GOOD: We tithed the entire 10% of our budgeted income! Budgeting off of last month’s income makes it a lot easier for me to budget the tithe first. It makes all the difference when you know how much money you have to budget and that everything will be covered with the 90%.
- GOOD: The new roof is on! Finally! Still haven’t seen the final bill but there should be enough left from the insurance claim to cover most of the exterior paint job. That’s been scheduled for the first part of May. It’s been a year since I got the quote and we’re just getting it done! The new roof took a lot longer to get approved than we expected, but it was worth it. It will add considerable value to our home and also lower our insurance premium.
- GOOD: I sold my son’s old saxophone, after holding out for 6 months. I had a lot of people offer $100 but I stuck to my price because I wasn’t in any hurry. The money will really help out in next month’s budget.
- BAD: We are fighting for United Healthcare to pay for an emergency transport bill from January. We’re getting the runaround, but the provider told me that unless we push for them to pay, they won’t. I hate dealing with insurance companies.
Our balance didn’t drop much this month. Following a budget is really giving me a reality check for how little we have to apply towards debt.
This is mostly because I can’t work unless my husband is not traveling for his job. Our daughter has a medical condition and one of us always has to be home with her.
Substitute teaching has been a great way for me to bring in a second income because it’s so flexible. I can take jobs or drop jobs right up until the night before the assignment.
And once I fulfill 60 assignments in this school year, my daily rate will increase by almost 60%!
Between all the breaks and snow days and my husband’s traveling, I will barely be able to get to 60 in time.
In fact, the last day I work in May will probably be my 60th assignment! So that means I won’t start making the increased rate until next school year.
I really want to find a way to bring in some income while my husband is traveling. I’ve been looking into it over the past several months and I think there are some viable options. My goal this summer is to explore some of these options and see if I could realistically make money from them.
Here are the latest numbers on our debt:
$8634 (credit cards) + $13,282 (student loans) + $8,660 = $30,576
So overall, we reduced our debt by $647 in April. This isn’t a lot and I need to figure out a way to increase how much we can put towards our debt every month.
I’m hoping the medical bill I mentioned above will be paid by the insurance company, because that would reduce our debt by over $1,000!
In May the 0% promotional rate on our credit card is expiring, so I’ll need to find another 0% card to transfer to (shouldn’t be too hard).
I also need to look into lowering my rate on my student loans. It’s possible I could find a better deal and save some money.
Summer is always tight for us because it’s when my husband makes the least overtime. And school is out so I won’t have the opportunity to substitute teach. It’ll be the perfect time to explore work-at-home options.
- Personal Savings
- Right now our main source of savings is our 401K. It’s what gets the majority of our savings dollars. Our savings account only increased $95 from the “esave” program we’re signed up with at our bank. We’re not trying to increase our savings account right now because we’re still focused on putting every extra dollar towards debt. Still, an extra $100 average a month helps a little.
- 529 Plan
- Our Collegebound fund decreased by a little over $1,500. This was the result of our contributions, the returns realized, and the withdrawals we took for our son’s college education. We currently put in $100 a month.
- our 401K has been on fire since the beginning of the year, increasing over $12K in April and over $50K since the beginning of the year! We’ve been contributing to it since my husband joined the company in 1998. We’re over a third of the way to $1M and I hope the recent returns are an indication of how compound interest is going to start skyrocketing the fund.
In A Nutshell
Well, our savings went up and our debt went down. I guess that’s something to be thankful for!
According to Dave Ramsey, we should actually be decreasing (or eliminating) the 401K and 529 contributions and putting those funds towards debt.
I’m not totally comfortable with that, considering we’re in our 50s now. I may change my mind later, but for now we’re going to keep putting money into our retirement and college accounts. Especially since compound interest seems to be really working its magic lately.
For May, our big expense is going to be the exterior paint job on our house. Over $5,000!!!
Thankfully, we should have most of that left over after we pay for the roof. I’ll be glad when all these big expenses are paid and our savings account reflects our true savings balance.
This summer I plan on finding ways to increase our income, either with something online or even a part time job outside the home. Summer is always tight for us, with fewer overtime hours for my husband and no sub jobs available for me.
So, I’ll need to get a little more creative and probably try something I’ve never done before. It will be uncomfortable, but at this point, progress trumps discomfort!