October 2015 Budget Report

October was our third full month living in Seattle, so our expenses are becoming more regular/predictable, which is great.


I traveled three times in October for my business, all three times to California. The weather in Seattle quickly transitioned in October from summer-ish to winter-ish (at least, that’s how it feels to us!), so my jaunts to warm, sunny California reminded me of the importance of our goal to move there sooner rather than later.



My feet in the Pacific Ocean.


Other than my travel I think our month was pretty boring! We almost spent a ton of money on irregular expenses, but ultimately deferred it to November. We shopped for Seattle-appropriate jackets and holiday flights. Our original plan was to visit Kyle’s parents for Thanksgiving and my parents for Christmas, but now we are considering hitting up both families over the Christmas holiday via an overnight flight on Christmas Eve/Christmas morning. This is either a brilliant or terrible idea.


Sources of Income


Our budget is based on two sources of income: Kyle’s salary and my contractor income. Kyle’s salary is regular and my contractor income is irregular.


Percentage-Based Budgeting


We re-evaluated our percentage-based budgeting for our new employment situation and settled on:

  • a generous amount for taxes
    • 20.65% (between federal income and FICA) of Kyle’s salary
    • 30.3% (between federal income and self-employment) of my contractor income
  • 18% toward retirement (Roth IRAs so far this year and soon my solo 401(k))
  • 10% tithe


Monthly Budget


October is our first month with a regular budget for over a year! Let’s see how we did.


Regular Expenses


Rent $1375 ($1375 budgeted)

Water/Sewer/Garbage $120 ($120 budgeted)

Phones $61.47 ($65 budgeted): Republic Wireless and Cricket Wireless FTW!

Internet $39.99 ($45 budgeted): We were overcharged in our first month and therefore had a credit for this month. It should be $44.99 going forward.

Netflix $21.90 ($22)

Student Loan $98.32 ($99 budgeted)


Variable Expenses



Kyle’s Restaurant Week dessert.

Transit $53.86 ($50 budgeted): This is a new category for us and includes gas, parking, and public transit. We bought gas twice (not full tanks), paid for parking three times, and bought two public transit cards ($5 each).

Power $0 ($50 budgeted): And this is how we learned that our power is billed once every other month. We’ll have to adjust this going forward since it is a non-monthly expense.

Groceries $658.84 ($600 budgeted): I really, really wanted to get under $600 this month but failed! Our grocery spending shot up as soon as we moved to Seattle. However, we stocked up on meat at the end of the month, so I am hopeful that our November spending will be lower. This category includes not only food but also personal care items like hair products.

Restaurants $103.37 ($150 budgeted): We went out once with friends for Restaurant Week and once with friends visiting from out of town. Kyle didn’t eat out for work at all this month.


Irregular Expenses


In total, we are allocating $950 per month (on average) to spend across five categories.


This month, we spent:

Cars $0

Travel $0

Gifts $0

Appearance $73.89: Clothing for Kyle.

Electronics $0




The amount of money available for miscellaneous expenses changes every month. It’s the unbudgeted money from Kyle’s paycheck plus the discretionary portion of my contractor paycheck. This month, the amount available was $401.30.


Miscellaneous expenses

  • Copay $60.22: This was a leftover expense from our flurry of medical activity before we left Durham. We were kind of mad that we weren’t told about this copay in time to use our FSA.
  • Amazon $54.46: A hard drive mount to recover data from our dead desktop and a book (first checked out from the library and vetted, then determined useful as a permanent reference).
  • Quarters $40: Replenished our laundry quarters supply.


Bottom Line(s)


Monthly: Spent $2,532.75 of $2,576 budgeted – under!

Irregular: Spent $73.89 of $950 budgeted – under!

Miscellaneous: Spent $154.68 of $401.30 budgeted – under!


This month, we spent $2,761.32 of $3,927.30 available. The excess money will stay in our checking account for likely use in a future month or short-term savings.


It’s a great feeling to be under budget in all three overall categories in our first month back on the horse! I’m pleased with our overall low/moderate spending this month except in the groceries category. However, very soon we will spend lots of money on irregular expenses for the holidays.


Have you ever traveled on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? What is fall like where you live?


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15 Responses to "October 2015 Budget Report"

  1. Ashley says:

    Just curious, why couldn’t you use your FSA for your copay? Even if you already payed out of pocket you should be able to submit your receipt for reimbursement. (At least, that’s been my experience, and that’s my understanding of how all FSAs are managed.)

    1. Emily says:

      We used all the FSA money before my husband switched jobs because we would have lost it. We didn’t realize that there would be more copays. Had we known, we definitely would have skipped out on the prescription sunglasses in favor of paying the copay! Actually, since the FSA is now closed, maybe we couldn’t have used it anyway?

  2. Fiby says:

    How come you’re budgeting so much to taxes?

    FICA is 7.65% (or 15.3% for self employed). And then even the top marginal tax rate is 39.6% (which I sincerely doubt Kyle is making =P. I’d guess you guys are in the 25% bracket (though not this year, because he started mid year)).

    And you guys have no state income tax, so even if you took 15.3% (which is not true since I”m assuming most of you and Kyle’s income is coming from Kyle, not your business) and added it to 39.6%, that’s still only 54.9%.
    And that’s still assuming all of your income is taxed at your marginal rate, which is not true.

    1. Emily says:

      Whoops, I didn’t proofread. I think it was a formatting error when I copied the text into WP because it looks like the first couple digits were dropped from each number. Fixed now! Sorry to have hurt your brain!

      1. Fiby says:

        Haha that makes more sense now!

        Oooh you decided on the solo 401k? Have you chosen a custodian for it yet?

        1. Emily says:

          Vanguard, I think. I have enough money there that there’s no fee. But I just received the documentation a few days ago and I haven’t read it yet so I’m not 100% sure.

  3. Mrs PoP says:

    I’ve never done Christmas Day or Eve travel, but Mr PoP flies on Thanksgiving day pretty much every year. He says those flights are great because they are virtually empty, but the return trips a couple days later are hellishly crowded!

    1. Emily says:

      Yeah we are trying to match the Christmas Day flight with some other off-weekend flights to avoid the worst of the crowds and high prices. I’ve heard that flying on Christmas Eve is terrible but I’m hoping that means leaving an arriving on Christmas Eve, not the red eye that we are considering. Thanks for sharing Mr. Pop’s experience!

  4. Emily, I haven’t traveled during Christmas Day or eve because I am always busy preparing for our small program and gift giving. Is it the best time to do so?

  5. […] our current budget, we can almost make it with Kyle’s income alone. Our irregular and/or miscellaneous expenses […]

  6. Fiby says:

    Oh and I totally forgot – I’ll be flying on Christmas Eve this year! (MSY -> BWI – that’s New Orleans to Baltimore-Washington) Should be interesting.

    1. Emily says:

      We are considering going into BWI as well on Christmas Day, but I think my parents will push us to going into DCA or IAD even though BWI is cheaper. :/ Let me know how your experience is!

      1. Fiby says:

        There is a shuttle that runs between BWi and Shady Grove station on the Red Line of the Metro. I’m guessing htere are shuttles to other Metro stations.
        But they may not be running on Christmas. I’m not sure if the Metro is running on Christmas either.

  7. Eric says:

    That’s a great deal you guys have on your phones! I have been shopping around recently and we might give the new Google Fi phone service a go. Are you happy with the phone options at Republic Wireless?

    1. Emily says:

      There aren’t many options but I’m very happy with the phone I had to buy! I’m not picky, though.

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