FI Adventure Month 2: Our Budget Is Wrecked

Care to guess how we weathered the holiday spending?

Written By: Collin

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you had some wonderful and relaxing holiday time.

I won't bury the lead here, we overspent a lot this month. The one area we did do well with was gifts though. We had purchased a couple gifts earlier in the year so that helped us spread the spending out. But in nearly every other category we were up.

Add together a couple of family Christmas parties, my birthday, some personal expenses on a business trip, and a few can't pass up sales and it's really no wonder why it happened.

Here's a breakdown of what percentage we spent compared to the previous month.

Electricity - 22%

Food & Dining (as a whole) - 67%

Groceries - 42%

Restaurants - 116%

Gas - 24%

Health & Fitness - 608%

Shopping - 137%

Other - 66%

Student Loans - 24%

Total Spend Over Last Month - 74%

There are a few things to note from that list. The most glaring is that we spent 608% more on health & fitness this month. The reason for that is that we paid off the remaining balance for Alli's hearing aids. Fortunately, this is money that we already had saved up in our HSA, so we didn't have to take a hit directly to our monthly income.

Another thing to notice is that we spent a whole lot more on groceries and eating out this month... as I'm sure most people did. While we did eat out more than normal, at least half of the extra food cost was related to sharing food with friends and family. So I'm ok with that.

The other half of the extra food cost was that I completely stocked our extra freezer! With all of the holiday deals on food this was an opportunity that I could not pass up.

Some notable finds were chicken thighs for $0.88/lb, whole chickens for $0.99/lb, whole turkeys for $0.37/lb, and pork loin at buy one get one free dropping the price to $1.79/lb. Any time I can buy meat for a dollar per pound or less, then it is a steal. All of these deals were are Kroger both the day before Christmas and the day after. Since the store is closed on Christmas all of the meat gets marked down a lot to prevent having meat left over to spoil.

The most obvious categories to go up were shopping and other. Which is just expected at this time of the year, nothing shocking here.

The last one to point out is the student loan payment went up 24%. This will be a new minimum payment amount going forward. So while I prefer to have a lower minimum payment and just pay extra on top, I'm still happy to be paying off 24% more on my loans each month.

Hope Is Not Lost

Even though we overspent a bunch, it's not all doom and gloom. We didn't go into debt this month (but our savings rate is basically nonexistent) and we were able to stock up on some freezer food so this should really help to drive down our food costs next month.

Remember, it's all about the average spend per month over the whole year. So don't beat yourself up if you overspent this month too.

Talking about the average spend per month, next month is January 2019 and we're kicking it off with an Uber Frugal Month. This is a challenge created by the Frugalwoods family blog where you... well, have an uber frugal month. I thought this would be an excellent way to help us recover from the holiday spending.

Plus, I really want to see just how little I can live on next month and how little I can spend. I think that it will be a good learning experience and will help reset my spending expectations.

Monthly Check In

December Savings Rate: 2%

December Debt Total: $102,658 (↓ .88%)

I like getting closer to the <100k mark. Since any extra money is going into our down payment saving right now, the normal payments should drop us into 5 digits in two months. That will be a good feeling.

Well, its the new year now, so here's to 3 months into our financial independence adventure and learning new lessons each month. May 2019 be everyone's best year yet.