March 2014 Month in Review: Money

Kyle commented to me this month about how our budget really doesn’t have any fat in it.  He was trying to convince me to pay an extra $5 for blog hosting and he was grasping to equate it to some other typical throwaway purchase that we have, like a $5 coffee – but he realized he couldn’t think of any examples on that scale.  Our budget really is tightly constructed in the sense that we want our money to go where it’s going and we don’t really mindlessly waste.  The closest you could come is perhaps what we do with our targeted savings accounts.  Because we save in advance we feel we can spent as we like, if the money is there, so maybe we aren’t as careful as we should be – see our spending spree below.


Anyway, we must be doing something wrong with our budget, because we managed to absorb a relatively big house purchase without busting our overall budget.  I honestly don’t know how we have enough excess in other categories to cover this!  At least we didn’t have two big expenses like last month.



The Everyday Budget


Top-line items


INCOME: Our normal stipend paychecks, plus:


RETIREMENT SAVINGS: Slightly higher than our usual rate because we’re maxing out our Roth IRAs for 2013.


Non-discretionary spending


Rent: $870.


Internet: $34.99.


Cell phones: Kyle’s usual $69.75.  This month I paid $0 for my phone because of account credits from people using my referral link to sign up for Republic Wireless.


Variable spending


mar2014 spending


Groceries: We tried to put a stop on our spending after our last big grocery trip but Kyle “needed” ice cream late in the month.  I thought that put us over, but it turned out that we were under by $0.11!  It’s the second month in a row that we’ve come in under budget (because we increased the budget).


Gas: Two fillups, nothing out of the ordinary.


Restaurants: Kyle bought two convenience meals while working on his dissertation and one meal out with his labmates.  We went out on one dinner date.


Electricity and Gas:  The polar vortex is retreating and the weather is getting temperate so we were only $15 over budget here.


Water: Slightly over budget, but not much.



Miscellaneous Spending


Every month, we have some transactions that don’t fall into our normal budget categories:

  • We spent $85.99 on a new vacuum cleaner.  First major household item we’ve purchased in a while!  We didn’t really shop this much, just wanted to get a cheap (working) one to use until we leave Durham.
  • We transferred $45 to pay off our Bursar bills.  $25 was a late fee, $6 was for an event we went to several months ago, and $14 because you can’t transfer less than $10 at a time (we’ll get it back).
  • We redeemed $22.04 in credit card rewards.
  • I bought some shoe inserts for $5.90.



Spending Out of Targeted Savings


We spent $337.91 out of these accounts and transferred $74.19 in above our normal savings rates.


Travel and Personal Gifts


We spent $91.47 on a wedding gift and some assorted cards.


Nest Egg


We transferred $92.52 out to top up our 2013 Roth IRA contributions.




no spending this month




no spending this month




Kyle and I went on a shopping SPREE! Kyle recently decided to raise the standards of his personal work dress code and found that he only had five eligible shirts, so we were having to do laundry pretty frequently.  We spent $157.39 on four shirts for him and one for me.




no spending this month




We filled a prescription for $19.98.


Charitable Giving


We gave $2 to a homeless person and made a $50 contribution to a homeless shelter.


We spent $17.07 on food for a homeless shelter dinner a group from our church prepared.




Yep, I transferred the $0.11 left over from our grocery budget to our CSA account for quality meat.




We transferred in $25.30 from Kyle’s side hustle paycheck.




We transferred in $48.78 from Kyle’s side hustle paycheck.


Budget Adjustments


No budget changes this month – we made a few tweaks recently and are still going on that.


Bottom Line


We had a slight excess of $29.35, mostly because we put off going out to dinner from March 30 to April 1.  🙂



Do you have a super strict tight budget or would yours absorb a vacuum cleaner purchase?  Do you allow yourself any categories of mindless spending?


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16 Responses to "March 2014 Month in Review: Money"

  1. Our budget would definitely not absorb a vacuum cleaner. An unexpected $100 would have to come out of planned spending… but we’re not really setting money aside for household things like that. We’re pretty set up in that regard.

    I’ve gone through the same issue as Kyle recently. Having a bit nicer clothing for work sucks after spending so many years in lab-appropriate attire. I’ve been working on it, but I basically have a wardrobe that is a five day mix-and-match rotation and then laundry on the weekend. It works, but just a few more pieces would make it ever so much easier. That being said, laundry on the weekend isn’t a big deal because it’s just in our bathroom.
    Alicia @ Financial Diffraction recently posted..Financial Update – March 2014.

    1. Emily says:

      I was thinking about taking it out of our general savings account, but since we were able to cover it in cash flow it would have been superfluous. We’d gone with a half-working vacuum for a bit but when it finally stopped working entirely we knew we would have to replace it. 🙂 Can’t have friends over without cleaning the carpet!

      Kyle’s new work standards are the same as his church standards so he was working with 5 shirts for 6 or 7 days of the week. 🙂 I think the laundry problem for us is mostly one of disorganization. My lab clothes are still the same as the clothes I wear the rest of the week, since I’m in lab nearly every day! I’m starting to feel a little old for my wardrobe so I’m a little bit looking forward to having a non-lab job.

  2. Daisy says:

    After reading your spending report, I am thinking we need to increase our charitable giving and donations. We don’t have any automated donations, we just give here and there when we think we should or find something that tugs at our heart strings.

    I was also thinking about my work wardrobe lately. I have been trying to sell a whole bunch of stuff on a Facebook group that I am part of and Craigslist to hopefully get rid of it all. Then I can perhaps buy some new stuff to look more professional. I don’t want to spend money on a wardrobe right now! You guys got a great deal on your work shirts though. That’s a reasonable price for that many!

    1. Emily says:

      I’m glad that our giving inspires you! I like our combination of regular monthly giving and discretionary giving. But I want to be clear that we are only give in worshipful response to what Jesus has given us.

      We weren’t being very price-conscious about the clothing but we happened to go shopping on a weekend with a lot of sales. 🙂

  3. I always keep an eye on our expenses and trying to stick on a budget. But this week, I’ve made an unusual purchase for my online business and hopefully it would have a good outcome.
    Marie @ My Personal Finance Journey recently posted..Obamacare Is Causing a Rise In Cash-Only Doctors

    1. Emily says:

      That’s awesome when you make a purchase that is actually an investment!

  4. Leigh says:

    I have a line item for ‘Furnishings’ and that’s where a vacuum would fall under! For now, I’m setting aside $100/month, but I’m not sure I’ll really use it all. I mostly started that because I ran out of the gifted money I was using to pay for furnishings and then I spent $2,500 on closets and painting in one go, which just meant I saved less that particular month.
    Leigh recently posted..March 2014 net worth update (+1.7%)

    1. Emily says:

      I can see us having a furnishings line item or targeted savings account in the future, but definitely not until we leave Durham and maybe not until we own a home. Yeah, we usually start out targeted savings accounts after we get into a bind with a certain purchasing category!

  5. Mrs. PoP says:

    We would just pay for a vacuum under our generic “shopping” category. That covers pretty much all of our wants and household stuff and has a really generous budget allowance every month. =)
    Mrs. PoP recently posted..PoP Balance Sheet – March 2014

    1. Emily says:

      It makes sense – just about every month there’s something random that needs to be purchased!

  6. What’s a budget?

    $85 is not a big deal these days. To be honest I’m still trying to figure out what level of purchase I should worry about. There’s some number, but we haven’t nailed it down yet.
    Nicoleandmaggie recently posted..April Mortgage update: And more musings on where to put extra money

    1. Emily says:

      It kind of depends on the month how much is really going to throw us for a loop. Luckily this month we had some wiggle room from the other categories.

  7. It is really great to plan how the money goes after we pull it from the pocket. This post carries with it an inspiration to spend on what’s needed so there is still something left for equally important needs.

  8. We’ve had to absorb a bunch of expenses lately (last minute flight home for my uncle’s funeral, some medical expenses etc.). It was pretty frustrating not to be able to save this month, but we didn’t have to dip into our savings which was a good thing. Always love to see charitable giving and tithing in the budget 🙂
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Food Storage: Why I’m Paying More

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