Every month, I keep a detailed log of my household expenses and income. July 2013 turned out to be lousy month for income and an even worse month for expenses. Truth be told, it turned out to be our most-expensive month to date. Come the end of the year, I hope that still remains true.
I track all our finances using my spectacularly meticulous IM Finance Tracker spreadsheet. If you’ve never tracked every dollar that flows in and out of your wallet, you literally don’t know what financial details you’re missing. I implore you to give it a shot, even for a month.
And now for the numbers:
|Groceries||$175||Higher than average|
|Utilities||$125||Electricity (513 kWh) & Trash|
|Mortgage + Escrow||$1,014|
|Internet||$15||AT&T promo rate|
|Cell Phones||$93||Two Sprint SERO plans|
|Rental House||$764||Mortgage and Escrow|
|General Merchandise||$480||Mostly Costco and Lowes|
|Gasoline||$185||Five tanks (Family trip)|
|Life Insurance||$62||Two term policies|
|Restaurants||$24||Lower than average|
|Online Services||$180||Domains transfer fees & Amazon Prime|
|Travel||$574||Paid for plane tickets (for upcoming Christmas travel)|
|Vehicle Expenses||$136||Car battery & some RockAuto parts|
Wow, where to begin? We came close to spending $4,000 this month! Hell’s bells! To see such a high number makes me want to run around like my hair is on fire. How the hell did this happen?
In last month’s update, I mentioned that my small family loaded the car and took a long trip to visit family in Georgia. Well, we drove back to Texas in July, which explains why we spent to much on gasoline.
The other big culprit is what you see listed as Travel in the above chart. What is that? In anticipation of returning to Georgia for Christmas, we went ahead and bought two plane tickets. Our son is still young enough to fly as a babe in arms, so no ticket needed for him. He will be just over a year old by Christmas, and we decided that we would spend it with his grandparents since my own parents are getting too old to easily travel. The grandparents couldn’t ask for a better present. It’s a lovely thought, and I’m sure everyone will enjoy it thoroughly, so I see it as money well spent.
Otherwise, the battery in one of our cars died, so I replaced it myself. Costco was a godsend in this matter, as their battery prices handily beat everywhere else I looked by at least $30. Since I was working on the car, I went ahead and bought some parts for both cars from RockAuto.com that we will eventually need (air filters, spark plugs, wipers, etc).
Other miscellaneous expenses included two new pairs of dress shoes for myself. The last time I bought new shoes for myself was over three years ago, and I was due for some new ones. Naturally, I found a coupon code and got some Dockers shoes for about $37 a pair. I hope they last me at least another 3+ years. Thankfully, my colleagues at the university judge me more by my brain and talent than by my shoes, so I don’t feel the need to buy fancy-pants designer dress shoes. Maybe one day I’ll be that professor on campus who wears a suit with sneakers. Can’t wait!
Our Amazon Prime membership automatically renewed in July. Since we don’t have a television, we use Prime for streaming video of shows we want to see. Over the last two years we’ve plowed through nearly all the episodes of Downton Abbey, The Tudors, and Star Trek (TOS, TNG, and DS9). Make it so!
And now for the income side of the equation:
|Salary||$3,749||After taxes, health insurance, and 403(b) reduction|
|Royalties / Web||$122|
Our total income for July was lower than most of the previous months. My wife quit her part-time teaching job in May to be a stay-at-home-mom, and her last paycheck arrived in June. Its absence is palpable.
Our rental house in Kansas continues to generate a monthly paycheck with no maintenance required. I’m sitting on $3,000 in reserves, just waiting for something like an emergency A/C or refrigerator replacement. Yet the months continue to pass with no repairs. Something is bound to rear its ugly head soon, and I’ll be waiting.
July was not a dividend month, yet we still received payouts from GE, bond funds, and some bank interest.
Given the above figures, our savings rate for July works out to a lousy 22.1%. When I factor in my automatic 403(b) contribution (plus employer match), it thankfully gets a little bump up to 31.37%. I suppose I shouldn’t fret about a savings rate that is still above 30%, but after all the previous months of 50%+, it almost feels like a loss.
Still, a positive savings rate is always good. Hopefully August will get to see a return to a 50% or higher rate. Speaking of which, here’s to a healthy, happy, and prosperous August!