September 2014 Budget

I am pleased to announce I broke my 3 month savings slump!  Last month was not pretty.  It was an awesome feeling when I put the numbers in for September and my data bars (Excel thing) were not red .  For the year I have had 4 months of saving money and 5 months of borrowing from the savings to survive.  Well I can't borrow from savings anymore because with last month I completely wiped it out.  This was something I had to do so I could keep my 4 year streak of no credit card debt alive.   For September I really buckled down on the discretionary expenses.  This helped me save a whopping $425.57 <fireworks>. 

I have made a few adjustments to my process.  The first being I now add my taxable dividends in as income.  I went back and changed this for the year in my spreadsheet.  Second I was treating investments I had made as an expense when determining my net gain or loss for the month.  The way I look at it now is if that money is mine it is not an expense.  It is just in a different account.

What am I going to do with all that money I saved this month?  Will I invest it?  Unfortunately no.  My savings is drained for those bills that do not occur monthly and cars that break down.  A good budget should account for this.  So from that $425.57 I should be setting aside the following:

Bill Type
Averaged Over the Year
Car Insurance
Car Service

The money I had left over will not go into investments and it will go into building up the "savings" accounts for these types of bills.  While it is not enough to cover the total I need to save each month it is a start.  The more I can save for these the less likely the chance of carrying credit card debt.

Expense Breakdown
So let's take a look at what I had to do to stay in the green this month.  It was a grueling battle constantly telling my family why we couldn't buy this or go out to eat.  I am considering printing out how I am trending through the month and putting it in our kitchen so it is big a visible.  Maybe seeing the weekly numbers will help them to understand you can only spend what you have.

The House
If I add up anything that has to do with a house that totals 47% of my expenses.  I included utilities that are part of the house minus cell phones & cable.  I did not include the average of home repairs so it might be higher than that.  My 'rent' doesn't increase yearly but that other stuff that goes along with a house does.  Insurance and utilities creep upward.  The list of repairs is pretty constant and the time it costs me to fix it is also in the back of my mind.  Is a home worth it?  Maybe I will do a deep dive in another post.

Through good menu planning and limiting the amount of junk food bought I was able to come in $120 under budget.  This is the lowest amount I have spent on food all year.  I did not stop buying organics but instead focused on organics on the dirty dozen list.  In addition we still buy organic milk.  Other than that it is mostly sticking to my grocery list and stocking up when there are good sales.  My health insurance also has this shopping card.  If I buy healthy food it gives me a 1% cash rebate.  It only works at one grocery store.  Shaving a dollar or two though is worth it.  Plus I hope to own stock in that store one day anyway.

Just to clarify I do categorized everything in Quicken but this stuff I just lump together in my expense spreadsheet.  This was a glorious $259 under budget.  Mostly due to restraint and no unexpected healthcare expense.  Childcare (clothes and other kid related expenses) still tops this category.  As you can see my wife and I spend very little on ourselves.  I think my wife bought something because she had holes in the existing garments.

Personal Care

Guilt Free Spending Money
I do not have a formal budget item any longer for this buy I still track it.  Dining out still tracks highest on this one.  The big dinner expense was eating out for my daughter's birthday.  The rest were pizza and some lunch with co-workers throughout the month.  If only I could completely resist that would save me $144 bucks.  My wife and I reminisce about our days long ago when we would eat out maybe once a month if that.  We were young and broke (not much has changed except for our age). 

The other big expense in this category was school pictures.  What a racket.  Blew almost $100 for pictures of my 2 older kids.  I guess photographers have to make a living somehow right?  The trend is downward so that is what I want to see.  Some fun is good but not sure now if it was worth draining my savings (aka emergency fund).  I will have to rebuild that over the next year.

The dividends I counted as income ($27.40) went straight back into those companies.  Allot of fractional shares but I will take it.  I still need to post additional investments I made with cash I had set aside in September.

All things considered I had a good month.  Hopefully you had a good month as well.  The more you save the more of your time you get back.

Image By Mister GC and courtesy of


  1. Hi DFG,

    That's awesome news for September - congrats! I think the changes you've made to your income/expense tracking are great.

    It must be hard having to say no to some purchases now in the short term but it's the right thing to do until you've built your savings up more - I hope that's not causing too much trouble in your household.

    Do you have two mortgage payments? What's the interest rate and do you have any options to reduce the payments? I remember one option my bank talked about was to re-cast the mortgage if you've previously made excess contributions which lowers monthly payments but I've decided not to pursue that approach yet.

    It certainly sounds like we all should be in the school photograph business though - endless supply of new customers each year and low running costs due to digital cameras!

    Best wishes,

    1. Thank you DL. Really trying to get back in the savings game. I remember just a few years ago I was saving $1000 a month. How things change. Yes in a way I have 2 mortgage payments. The one on my current house does have a decent rate of 4.85%. The second is an interest free loan I am repaying still from one of my previous houses. Saving that story for a post. I would like to refinance my mortgage down to a 15 year so I will be paid off earlier. Just need time to pursue that. My current bank won't give me one so I will need to look elsewhere. Have a good weekend.

  2. DGF,

    Great news! I'm glad you broke your bad spell. Hopefully you can keep it up for the foreseeable future and build up your savings again.

    Keep it up,

    1. Thanks NMW. That is my plan. Save, Invest, quit my day job...

  3. I hear you on the school picture racket!!! Back to school in general can be a budget buster with misc. fees and such. Congrats on turning the budget green. Good luck.

    1. Thanks MaMM. I still don't get why my taxes pay for school and then on top of it I pay additional fees. Makes no sense to me. Even in college I remember paying tuition and then having to buy several hundred dollars worth of books,etc. Would be much simpler to wrap it all together.


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