Well, it’s time to come clean on my spending in September. And was there ever a lot of spending!
Where the money went: September 2016.
I have a lot of feelings about my spending during the month of September that I’m still trying to work through. On paper, it doesn’t look too encouraging: I spent $2,445 while bringing home $2,529. Which means I spent 96% of my take-home pay. Not exactly what I’m striving for most months.
My two biggest purchases last month were for a new camera and laptop. They were planned purchases. Kind of.
I keep a list of things that I think I need to save for over the next few years. The list includes things that I want (like a new digital camera), along with things that I think I’ll end up needing, like a new cell phone. I try to prioritize as best I can, and allocate my $150 in savings each week accordingly. I’ll be honest, my priorities are constantly changing. For example: Having money set aside for a cell phone has been my #1 priority lately. After all, my cell phone isn’t exactly new, and who knows when it might finally break down (or I might accidentally drop it in the toilet)? I want to have that money in savings whenever the need arises.
At the same time, I have no plans on replacing my cell phone until absolutely necessary. It’s such a hassle, and I’m not fond of learning new technology. So, even though it’s my #1 priority, sometimes it loses it’s #1 standing. Like when I find a really great deal on a Canon digital camera, with a standard and 75-300mm lens, and camera bag (for $449, plus tax). Which also happened to be on my savings list, although not as high up as the cell phone. And, since I expected to spend $1,000-2,000 on the camera, it made sense to move it to the top of my list when I found it for a great deal.
The new laptop was a little closer to a necessity; Bryan and I have been limping along with my old laptop for years. He bought a tablet with a keyboard in February, thinking it would carry us along for a while with my laptop. Actually, he bought one tablet at Sam’s Club, which we took back within a matter of days because the keyboard wouldn’t hold a connection. He then bought a different tablet at HH Gregg’s, which has some connection problems as well. And, the longer we have it, the less likely it is to turn on when we want to use it. Basically, it was a total waste of money. And now, the old laptop is starting to freeze up constantly. So, when we were buying the camera at Fry’s Electronics, we found a new laptop on sale for $287 (plus tax). And, for some reason when we bought the laptop and the camera together, we scored an additional $70 off the camera!
So, the cell phone and a few other items got knocked down on savings priority, so we could buy the laptop and the camera. Of course, since then I’ve already managed to reach my $500 savings goal for the cell phone again. And honestly, $500 is way more than I’ll probably spend when I end up buying a new cell phone. I’m just more comfortable having that amount for it in savings, just in case. And, even though we have a new laptop, at some point in the next few months, we’ll probably end up buying another one. That way we’ll each have a working laptop.
Grocery costs were low, mainly because Bryan was gone for a week. I was supposed to go with him and a friend on a fishing trip to Minnesota, but I backed out at the last-minute because work has been crazy, and the timing seemed terrible. I thought I’d spend the entire week making all the crazy foods that Bryan doesn’t like, or going out to eat, and spend a ton of money. Instead, I spent the week eating grilled cheese, working long hours, and finishing projects around the house. I actually bought a loaf of bread at Menards so I wouldn’t have to make a separate trip to the grocery store. I quickly realized how much better my life is with Bryan around, even with some awesome variations of grilled cheese while he was away. But I managed to get ahead at work, removed the nasty old caulk (and re-caulked) our walk-in shower, which looks so much cleaner now, and reorganize our pantry area with some pegboard shelves. So the week wasn’t a total loss.
I went to Target last month. I had a list. I mostly stuck to the list. And yet, somehow, I walked out having spent $261. And I even had a $10 off coupon! I bought T-shirts, socks, and a shirt for work. I bought a gift for a co-worker, and a Christmas gift for my sister and her husband. I bought some groceries. Bryan and I had a party to attend where we were in charge of the Gin and Tonics and Brandy Slushes, so I bought everything but the alcohol for those items. I bought a nice 3-ring binder and some sheet protectors so we could organize our canning recipes. Cause we’re old-school like that.
While I was on vacation with my Mom and sisters, I somehow managed to hurt my back. Maybe sleeping on a pull-out chair for a week? Maybe when my sister jumped on my back at the pool? Maybe some other stupid thing I did, because there was alcohol involved? Regardless, I woke up one day in terrible pain. Luckily it was my upper back, which I feel is way easier to deal with than lower back pain. I went to the doctor once we got home, and was put on muscle relaxers and prescription Naproxen, and told to come back for X-Rays if it wasn’t better in a week. And, I almost did, because it didn’t really get better in a week. But then I tripped and fell, because I’m clumsy like that, and busted up my knee pretty badly. Nothing serious, but it definitely took the focus off my back. All of this meant September’s spending includes co-pays, prescriptions, and a variety of really big band-aids. Just when I started to think I should see the doctor for my knee, I stubbed my toe really badly…
September wasn’t exactly the month I thought it would be. I’m still adjusting to being debt free, and my new spending and savings rates. There are a few things I need to talk about more, but I think it’s best saved for another post. I hope October will be a little better spending wise. But, the Holidays are coming, so I mostly expect spending for the rest of the year to be on the high side.
* Lottery savings is the $20 that I put away each week, in cash, for NOT playing the lottery. This is equal to the amount Bryan spends each week playing the lottery. If he wins, the money is “ours”. My “spending” the same amount every week makes things seem more fair. At the end of the year, we’ll probably use the Lottery Savings money to take a vacation. It’s like a guaranteed win!
** Insurance covers two term life insurance policies: One insuring me, and one insuring my younger sister. I pay my car insurance every 6 months, and renters insurance once a year.
*** To make things easier to track, I only list items that come out of my net pay, or what gets deposited into my checking account. My 401(k), health insurance, Flexible Spending Account, and other expenses that are taken directly from my weekly paycheck by my employer are not included here.