September 2016 Budget Report

gratuitous baby picture

gratuitous baby picture

We’re still getting our feet under us in terms of our spending on DPR, but things are starting to normalize. Our large start-up costs are largely behind us, I think, and now we’ll just have some ongoing expenses to keep her fed, clothed, etc.


One totally new expense for us this month was childcare! I had my first speaking engagement as a parent. I had an amazing day: my hosts put on a wonderful event and made my travel incredibly easy, the talk itself went very well, and the graduate students asked a lot of great questions. However, DPR didn’t have such a good day! As I’m DPR’s primary caregiver during the day, we had to make other arrangements. Kyle wanted to take the day off of work to care for DPR and I wanted to get a babysitter, so we compromised on Kyle working from home while the babysitter looked after DPR. This compromise worked out pretty well as the sitter had some questions and DPR had a couple meltdowns due to being with a stranger. We found the babysitter through a service, so we are also paying a membership fee for that.


We paid a lot for a full-day sitter, but I also earned a speaking fee that day; I increased my speaking fee over last year specifically to compensate for childcare expenses. I’m not convinced that this expense should be coming out of our regular budget because we haven’t accounted for my income in our regular budget, but that’s an issue to figure out over time.


We received a correction on our NC state tax return – a $114.70 refund. That’s what we get for doing our own taxes!


Our financial house is rather messy, and we are in dire need of a deep cleaning. Overdue items: updating our budget and irregular expenses estimates, buying life insurance, and opening a 529 for DPR. I think we need an overhaul of our money management system! I’m thinking that we’ll devote Kyle’s income primarily to our regular expenses and leave our irregular/one-time expenses more to my income… I’ve kicked around some ideas on this front but Kyle and I need to sit down together and refine/decide.


Sources of Income


Our budget is based on Kyle’s net income (after taxes and insurance).


Percentage-Based Budgeting


From Kyle’s net pay, we set aside/transfer:

  • 18% toward retirement
  • 10% for our tithe


Monthly Budget


We did surprisingly well keeping our variable expenses in check this month.


Regular Expenses


Rent $1495 ($1495 budgeted)

Water/Sewer/Garbage $130 ($130 budgeted)

Phones $61.58 ($65 budgeted): Republic Wireless for me and Cricket Wireless for Kyle!

Internet $69.95 ($45 budgeted): Uh oh! Our promotional period ended with Comcast. We need to call and try to get this cost reduced.

Netflix $10.74 ($25 budgeted): We finally cancelled our DVD service so we’re only streaming now.

Student Loan $99.67 ($100 budgeted)


Variable Expenses


Transit $44.80 ($50 budgeted): We paid for parking six times and bought gas twice.

Power $122.11 ($50 budgeted): Two high months over the summer with fans going all the time!

Groceries $495.61 ($600 budgeted): We managed to come in under budget this month! We had at least a whole week of “We should go to the grocery store tomorrow…” so we really ate down our pantry during that time. My parents stayed with us for a week during a visit and we bought their groceries during that time, but then they sent us $100 after the fact to cover those costs. Meal planning is still perplexingly pushing me to overspend.

Kyle ordered the "baby burrito" while out with my parents

Kyle ordered the “baby burrito” while out with my parents

Restaurants $30.81 ($100 budgeted): Kyle went to happy hour once and bought a meal at the farmer’s market once. On the last day of the month, we realized we hadn’t paid for a dinner out all month (my parents took us out once) so we treated ourselves to take-out.


Irregular Expenses


In total, we are allocating $800 per month (on average) to spend across five six seven categories.


In this period, we spent:

Cars $164.75: Our car registration came up for renewal this month, so we paid for that and the accompanying inspection.

Travel $0

Gifts $23.95: We brought a housewarming gift to a party.

Appearance $369.33: This month I had my first post-baby speaking engagement, so I had to get my appearance up to snuff, and I also bought a few items to help me get my post-baby bod back in shape.

  • a pair of sneakers
  • three work blouses (I will return two)
  • a work skirt
  • sports bra
  • tights
  • haircut

Electronics $0

Baby $237.63: This month we signed up for a babysitting service and used it once. The quarterly fee was $45 and we paid $135 for 7 hours of babysitting. Finally, we bought some special laundry additives for DPR’s cloth diapers.

Health $249.20: High baby-related expenses this month! I paid for a few months of my lactation prescription and two copays for measuring how well DPR is nursing. We also filled one non-baby-related prescription (spider bite! infection!) and got a refund from our health insurance company.




Our total available miscellaneous money for this period was our normal $20.60 plus $560.54, which was a credit card rewards redemption. We spent $5.99 on a data backup service.


Bottom Line(s)


Monthly: Spent $2,560.27 of $2,660.00 budgeted – under!

Irregular: Spent $1,044.86 of $800 budgeted – over!

Miscellaneous: Spent $5.99 of $581.14 budgeted – under!


This period, we spent $3,611.12 of $4,041.14 available – well under, thanks to our credit card rewards redemption, even with the high irregular expenses. It was pretty fun to see how much had built up in rewards over the past couple years (ish?).


How was your spending in September? What in your financial house needs to be cleaned up? Has a houseguest ever reimbursed you for food expenses?


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5 Responses to "September 2016 Budget Report"

  1. Fiby says:

    When you’re looking at 529 options, make sure to give CA’s plan a hard look. Everybody likes to recommend NY, UT, and NV’s plans because they have low expense ratio Vanguard funds…but some of CA’s funds, despite it not being, as best as I can tell, a Vanguard fund under the hood, are lower!
    CA has the lowest expense ratio on a US stock fund in a 529 that I’ve seen – 0.09%. The other three mentioned above are all in the 0.17-0.19% range.

    However, CA’s age based portfolios aren’t competitive. It all depends on what you want.

    Another piece of unsolicited advice: Some people, particularly those who intend to pay for all of their kid'(s) education(s) don’t believe in age based portfolios at all. They treat the money in the 529 as if it weren’t in some separate targeted savings/investment account at all, and instead invest the money in 529 as if it were just another bucket like an IRA or 401k in their overall investment portfolio. I agree with this approach (assuming the premise is met).

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for that info and we will take a closer look at CA’s 529. We haven’t settled yet on whether to do an age-based fund. I like the idea but they seem soooo conservative! Can you elaborate on why it’s an important premise that the parent will pay for the entire education?

      1. Fiby says:

        Yeah the age based funds seem awfully conservative to me too.

        If the parent(s) is/are only planning on paying a fixed amount, but the market crashes and the 529 asset value tanks, then the parent(s) may have trouble meeting their desired contribution to their kid’s education.

        I guess what I really meant to say is if the parent isn’t willing to contribute more money than what’s in the 529, then he or she shouldn’t just treat the 529 as part of their overall portfolio .

  2. Katherine says:

    Another thing to think about on the 529 is the home states of the people who will be contributing. I think in a lot of states, you can only deduct contributions from your state income tax if the contributions are to a 529 in your own state. If I remember right you guys have family in California and hope to move to California at some point, so that might make California’s 529 more attractive to you.

    1. Emily says:

      Good point to consider but in our case I think it’s moot. We might have a bit of motivation to use CA’s 529 because of connections with the state but as CA doesn’t offer a tax benefit even if we lived there it wouldn’t be a reason to use it. Also I believe that if a grandparent or something wanted to contribute and get a tax break she could just open her own 529 in her state.

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