I have to admit, I’m kind of embarrassed to share my December spending. It ended up being a very UN-frugal month.
I spent a total of $4,118 in December. My paychecks totaled $2,529 and I had a $224 FSA reimbursement (between November and December expenses).
Some of my expenses were right in-line with where I usually expect them: Rent, Lottery Savings, Restaurants, Internet, Insurance. Groceries have been trending lower lately, not because we’re spending less overall on food, but because we’re buying less at the grocery store, which I pay for, and more at Sam’s Club, which Bryan pays for. Time off for the Holidays meant less driving for me, so gas was lower this month. My annual vehicle registration and 6 months of car insurance came in right where I expected them.
My cell phone started having issues, so I went ahead and purchased a new phone from Republic Wireless. I knew it was only a matter of time, so I had money set aside for this in savings. I didn’t buy the cheapest phone they offered, as I wanted to have a better camera, but I also didn’t buy the most expensive. Unfortunately, the new phone meant I could no longer be on the reimbursement plan. I’m sad about that, as now I’ll be spending about $10 more a month on my cell phone plan. It’s still an excellent deal, so I shouldn’t complain!
I didn’t expect to spend nearly so much on Christmas gifts. But, since Bryan isn’t working, and we’re still sorting out his finances, I went ahead and bought all of the gifts we were both giving this year. We opted not to buy each other gifts, which did help. Included in the gifts is a new baby gift for my brother’s new girlfriend (not his baby – I don’t want to go there), a birthday gift for one of Mark’s sons, and tickets for 5 of us to go to a Hockey game.
I decided once my debt was paid off that I needed to start being better at charitable giving. In the past, I’d always preferred giving locally and individually: Giving money to a family that had lost everything in a fire, or to someone I knew that was struggling. And while it’s great in theory, being unstructured made it easy to forget to give. So, I started putting away $30 a week for giving. But, to be honest, I still struggle with where to give my money. I like the idea of giving locally, and to smaller groups that make the greatest impact. I hate the idea that a substantial amount of my money would go to advertising and fundraising, instead of really making a difference. In the end, I decided any giving is better than waiting for perfect giving, so I gave some money to a local mission that provides food and shelter for the homeless (along with a variety of other programs), and a local children’s hospital that is near and dear to my heart.
Bryan and I have been discussing buying new recliners for several years now. The two we have are at least 12 years old, and were inherited from Bryan’s old roommate when he moved out of state. The two of them slept in the recliners for years, and while they’re fairly nice recliners, they’re starting to show some major wear. Last year we opted to buy covers for them, instead of replacing them. I used a gift card from work to buy the covers; It bought us an extra year to plan and think about what we wanted. But the padding on the arm of the recliner I sit in has finally worn to where it hurts my arm, so I decided the time to replace them had come. I was planning to wait until February, when I’d have my tax refund. But Lazy Boy was having a sale, and we found two recliners that we liked enough to make the leap. Since they have to be made, I paid half when we placed the order, and will pay the other half when they ship in 4-6 weeks.
The only other unusual thing is the bank fee. I made an honest mistake, and wrote a check out of the wrong account. Most of my accounts have free overdraft protection. Except the one I wrote the check out of, of course! The bank covered the check for a fee of $36, and then it was just a matter of moving money between my accounts. I try not to keep an excess amount of money in my checking accounts. An expensive reminder to pay more attention when I’m writing checks!
I can’t help but feel that 2016 was overall a very spend-y year for me. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why, and hopefully I’ll be able to take the time and write more about what’s going on in the future. Suffice it to say, changes will be made in 2017! But it wasn’t all bad, and Bryan and I learned a lot about each other, our habits, and our relationship. I have faith that I’ll be better in the coming year!
- Cindy W.