Life in Seattle is really starting to improve for us! There were many days in March that had no rain and/or were quite sunny. Near the end of the month, it got above 60 degrees F on a couple days! The start of daylight savings time has also been amazing – sometimes Kyle comes home when it’s still light out! We are also slowly strengthening our social ties.
Near the beginning of the month, we went on a retreat weekend as the culmination of a weekly marriage group we’ve been attending for the past several months. The group was designed as preventative maintenance for newlyweds exiting the honeymoon period, and even though Kyle and I have been married for over five years they let us sneak in. We had a great time connecting with each other and it was lovely to be in a new location for a weekend. We even made some tangible positive changes in our daily/weekly routine when we returned that we’ve kept up for the last few weeks, which is a great start. The cost of this weekend was only the lodging and food as the leaders were volunteers.
Near the end of the month, Kyle’s parents made an impromptu trip to Seattle to visit us. They came over a long weekend, so I hung out with them quite a bit while Kyle was at work, and we also did several activities all together over the weekend. Luckily, Kyle’s mom is a big NCAA basketball fan, so we were able to relax and watch some of the NCAA tournament games on TV together and we also went out to a watch party at a bar when our alma mater’s team played. Unlike the last Seattle staycation I took, this one was quite easy on our wallet as Kyle’s parents paid for virtually all the meals out and the one museum we visited. We did a lot of free activities around Seattle, like walking around the Seattle Center and the Ballard Locks and driving through Discovery Park and Fremont to look at the public art.
The big financial news for us this month was that we finally sold the car we’ve had in Durham for the last six months. This whole process has been a huge hassle because I didn’t have the car title and we ended up keeping it far longer than we should have, which cost us a bunch of money (more on that next week!). Anyway, with the proceeds of the car sale we achieved the emergency fund goal we set for ourselves a few months ago. Now we have to set another goal for our excess cash flow going forward. We should have two more boluses of money coming in April as I finish paying myself from my business in 2015 and we allow ourselves access to our self-tax refund. For now, it will just stay in our checking account creating a larger buffer for our irregular expenses until we decide to redirect it to our house down payment savings account, retirement accounts, or possibly mid-term investments.
This month we also finally started working on our tax return! (Why is this exiting to me?!) So far we are preparing our return ourselves without the aid of software or any professionals. We prepared nearly the whole return this way – we’re taking the standard deduction and not taking any aggressive business deductions so it wasn’t too difficult – but when we got to the investment section we started getting lost. We sold some taxable investments last year so for the first time we received 1099-Bs in addition to 1099-DIVs. We might have to turn to tax software just for this piece!
Sources of Income
Our budget is based on Kyle’s income alone. The discretionary portion of my contractor income went into our savings account. I didn’t pay myself from my business in March; I’ll pay myself once more for the remainder of my 2015 net income after we finalize our taxes.
From Kyle’s net pay, we set aside/transfer:
- 18% toward retirement
- 10% for our tithe
I’m quite disappointed in our variable expense spending this month all around, though yet again I didn’t think our habits had changed.
Rent $1375 ($1375 budgeted)
Water/Sewer/Garbage $120 ($120 budgeted)
Phones $61.57 ($65 budgeted): Republic Wireless for me and Cricket Wireless for Kyle!
Internet $44.99 ($45 budgeted)
Netflix $21.90 ($22 budgeted)
Student Loan $98.32 ($99 budgeted)
Transit $55.25 ($50 budgeted): We filled up our car with gas twice and paid for parking six times. Five of those six times were <$3 but we paid to park at Pike Place once ($9).
Power $119.42 ($50 budgeted): “On” month for our power bill – hopefully the highest one we’ll see until next winter!
Groceries $660.49 ($500 budgeted): Ugh, fail. I don’t know why I have such an ambitious goal. I can’t even identify why our spending was so much higher this month – we didn’t host any parties or anything.
Restaurants $73.73 ($100 budgeted): We ate out a bunch of times this month, but Kyle’s parents paid for all but one of those meals. We also had dinner out together once at a bar to watch our alma mater’s basketball team play in the NCAA tournament.
In total, we are allocating $950 per month (on average) to spend across five categories.
This month, we spent:
Cars -$105.06: We cancelled our insurance on our second car (in Durham) when we finally sold it, and this was the refund we received (~ 2 months).
Travel $353.29: Two nights of lodging and two meals out during our marriage retreat weekend.
Our available miscellaneous money this month was the normal $55.88 plus we were refunded a $25 copay we paid last month. We spent $56.79, broken down as:
- $5.88 on stamps
- $40 on quarters for laundry
- $10.91 on software
Monthly: Spent $2,630.67 of $2,426 budgeted – over!
Irregular: Spent $248.23 of $950 budgeted – under!
Miscellaneous: Spent $56.79 of $80.88 budgeted – under!
This month, we spent $2,935.69 of $3,456.88 available.
We’re now in a troubling pattern of over-spending our regular monthly budget and under-spending our irregular expenses budget, which is an indication that they both need to be adjusted. I could also find a way to re-incorporate some of my variable income into our budget now that we’ve saved a satisfactory emergency fund size.
How is spring shaping up in your city? Have you filed your tax return yet and what method did you use to prepare it?