August 2014 Month in Review: Money

Our income this month was Kyle’s new postdoc pay plus my normal stipend paycheck. Even with the higher income from July (Kyle’s first month as a postdoc), we kept our budget the same and it will be the same for next month (funded by our pay this month). We won’t really adjust our budget or money management system until October’s budget, the first with our lower income.


A few other loose ends:

  • We corrected our mistake from last month of overpaying our Barclaycard by putting additional spending on that account, largely my flight to FinCon. I’m glad it only took that one month to fix it.
  • We finished redeeming Kyle’s Barclaycard sign-up bonus (about 10 months after we first signed up for it) against my FinCon flight, which was an additional $150 in rewards. That’s $484 of rewards so far! I didn’t write a post about it specifically, but I’ve detailed in the past how flexible and easy the Barclaycard redemption process is.
  • I’m not pleased with how much Kyle’s take-home pay is fluctuating based on the various payroll deductions he has. Thankfully, we’ve still had my income through this transition so we’re not depending on his alone. I can’t wait until it’s consistent month-to-month!



The Everyday Budget


Top-line items



  • Kyle received his second paycheck as a postdoc. His second paycheck was different than the first because he had two months of our health insurance premiums taken out. We decided to add me to his insurance to simply our life.
  • Kyle received $133.91 of income from our church.


RETIREMENT SAVINGS: We have a new arrangement for our retirement contributions starting this month. Kyle is contributing 15% of his pay and I am contributing $172 per month (through December). We are also contributing 15% of our irregular income, which this month was just Kyle’s church paycheck.


Non-discretionary spending


Rent: $870.


Internet: $34.99.


Cell phones: Kyle’s usual $69.71. This month I used a $20 account credit from someone using my referral link to sign up for Republic Wireless so I paid $6.37 for my cell this month. What a deal for unlimited everything! 🙂


Variable spending


aug2014 spending


Groceries: We squeaked in under budget this month for our grocery spending. It probably helped that we were out of town two weekends! I’m also pleased that this includes two trips to the farmer’s market.


Gas: We spent only about $90 on gas this month aside from what we used to travel, which is right in line with our budget.


Restaurants: We are crazy over budget here this month. We spent $275 on Thai food for a defense celebration for me, but used a $100 gift card that was also a defense gift (thanks MH!). Other than that huge charge, we spent $91.01 on eating out, which was pretty reasonable since some of that was due to travel.



dishes from our favorite Thai restaurant – pad thai, yellow curry, and pad see ew



Electricity and Gas: Only a little over budget this month, which is great considering it’s summer.


Water: Under budget.




my new water bottle!

Miscellaneous Transactions


Every month we have some random transactions that are not accounted for in our normal budget.

  • Kyle allowed himself to by tricked by Amazon into signing up for Amazon unlimited and then didn’t cancel the subscription in time, so we paid $10.74. But that’s now canceled.
  • Kyle spent $73.08 on my defense gifts – a water bottle and matching T-shirts for us.
  • We spent $8.86 on inner tubes for an afternoon floating in a local quarry. 🙂



Spending Out of Targeted Savings


We had a crazy lot of transactions this month (only one account unaffected!) and they were high amounts, as well! We spent $899.21 out of these accounts and transferred $1,540.82 in above our normal savings rates.


Travel and Personal Gifts


We spent $70.96 on gas to travel to a wedding this month and $80 on the gift. We spent another $71.85 on gas to visit my parents.


We redeemed another $150 in rewards on Kyle’s Barclaycard and transferred it into this account.


Nest Egg


We finally received our reimbursements from Kyle’s conference in July for $1,035.16. We added $258 to hold for future Roth IRA contributions.




We paid $183 for Kyle’s half of our university parking permit.


We got an oil change, a coolant flush, and a new air filter for Kyle’s car for $140.99.



Kyle enjoying $1 concessions night



We spent $36 on three tickets to see the Durham Bulls with a bunch of our friends.





To get me looking sharp for my defense, I got a haircut for $55 and my suit tailored for $15.


We bought some jeans for Kyle for $21.49.


We also did some dry cleaning for $26.61.




Kyle bought some ergonomic equipment for his desktop from Amazon. We used some credits and a gift card, so the pro-rated amount we pulled from this account was $18.54.




We spent $22.93 on a birth control pill copay this month. That was a surprise with our new insurance as we thought under the ACA we shouldn’t have a copay. We’re still investigating why.


We pulled $14.03 for some equipment from this account, similar to the Electronics charge.


Charitable Giving


We are supporting another missionary with $50 per month from this account.


We bought some food to serve at a soup kitchen for $42.81.


We made a $50 donation to our local NPR affiliate.




no spending this month




We transferred $30.16 into this account from Kyle’s church paycheck.




We added $67.50 to this account from Kyle’s church paycheck. We have a very healthy balance in this account now so we really need to get on buying a DSLR.




Budget Adjustments


No adjustments for September, but we are preparing for a complete money management overhaul for October – stay tuned!



Bottom Line


We had $193.15 in budget leftovers this month, which we transferred to our nest egg. This wasn’t as much as I expected, in no small part due to the defense-related celebratory spending (similar to May with Kyle’s defense).



What have you done to celebrate the last bit of summer? Have you had a monthly of high irregular spending recently? Have you had any planned purchases that you saved up for but didn’t take action on when you met your goal?


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22 Responses to "August 2014 Month in Review: Money"

  1. Sara says:

    September is shaping up to be expensive for us. We finally got my MIL to admit that she wants something for her fall birthday (a Fitbit!) so we’re sending that off before she has a chance to decide it’s too costly of a gift. And since this is a milestone birthday for her I think Liam is going to fly out and surprise her for a long weekend. So yes, it’s going to be a month full of one-off spending.

    Luckily it’s our year to spend Christmas with my family, which means our travel expenses amount to a few tanks of gas instead of flights, a car and generally a night at a hotel. Because of that we’re able to spoil L’s mom guilt-free. 🙂

    Can you elaborate on this tubes-in-quarries thing? That sounds delightful.

    1. Emily says:

      That is a great gift! And it would be a terrific surprise to see Liam that weekend. But yeah, those will wreak some havoc on the finances!

      This is our year to travel cross-country for Christmas, so we’re on the opposite schedule of you. But we spend the same on gifts in either case. Thank goodness for free shipping!

      Hm, maybe I should have included a pic… Not too much more to elaborate on! There is a quarry filled with water in a state park near our house. Swimming is not explicitly banned, though there is no lifeguard. We bought some cheap inner tubes from Target and basically spent 3 hours floating in them chatting with a bunch of friends. Some others in our group swam or dove or horsed around, but we were content to just sit and enjoy the afternoon!

  2. I’m doing alright too – my budget’s in check and savings are looking good. But medical bills…always pesky.
    Elissa @ 20s Finances recently posted..Update on 2014 Financial Goals

    1. Emily says:

      Keep at it! Eventually I hope they will be a smaller part of your financial picture.

  3. Sounds like August was an enjoyable month! I hate it when I forget to cancel a service after a free trial. I always set reminders on my phone, but sometimes they fall through the cracks. I have saved up for things in the past and then held off on buying them. I don’t usually like parting with my money, even if it’s for something I know I want! It took me quite a while to pull the trigger on getting a new laptop, but I am glad I did.
    Erin @ Journey to Saving recently posted..September Budget Preview

    1. Emily says:

      August was very enjoyable after my defense passed, and now that I’m done with my dissertation I have high expectations for September as well!

      Kyle didn’t even intend to sign up for this free trial in the first place (Amazon has tricked me in the past as well, so they are very clever), but then he didn’t quite remember in time to cancel it, so it was sort of a double insult. But actually the service is pretty cool, just not something we want to spent money on right now.

      I haven’t minded making large purchases in the past, but I guess this one feels delay-able because we’ve wanted a camera for years but were able to put off buying it (so clearly we must not want it THAT much). But we really have no excuses at this point not to get the camera because I have the time to learn how to use it!

  4. I would really like to eat that Thai food! Looks delish. And, love the PhD waterbottle! Glad that you were able to celebrate and enjoy yourselves this month–so important to take time to recognize successes. Congrats again, Dr!
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted..Weekly Woot & Grumble: Thieving Dolphins & Some Guy Named Plutus

    1. Emily says:

      The food was amaaaaaazing and everyone was asking where we got it. We love eating at that restaurant or getting take-out when we have some room in the restaurant budget. We always order the same things (the two dishes to the right)!

      Thank you! I really want to celebrate BIG for our dual doctorates with an overseas vacation, but I think we’re going to wait at least until Kyle has his next job lined up and maybe go between jobs.

      1. Tarynkay says:

        Would you mind sharing the name of the Thai restaurant? We have not yet found one that we love here in Durham.

        1. Emily says:

          Twisted Noodles. I hope you haven’t already tried and dismissed it!

  5. Alicia says:

    When I saw the picture of that food (and before I saw it was for a party) my first thought was that those are gigantic portions. But for $300 :it better be 🙂 also I want that water bottle you have 🙂
    Alicia recently posted..Falling Off the Meal Plan Wagon

    1. Emily says:

      Yeah they were pretty gigantic! We had around 25 people over (they brought appetizers and desserts so there was a LOT of food) and still ate Thai food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for several days. Kyle is extremely into over-providing food at parties.

      You can buy it from Cafe Press. It’s actually a REALLY nice water bottle, not just like a novelty. I’m enjoying it a lot and I have it with me all the time. I bought this smartphone cover for Kyle for his defense, so they are of a kind.

      1. I was just going to ask where you bought the water bottle. I want to get one for my sister for Christmas. She just finished her phd and started teaching this fall. We are super proud of her.

        I got suckered into paying for an additional 6months of unlimited deliveries from fresh direct once. I knew I had signed up, but then completely forgot to cancel before the trial was over (dumb, but lesson learned, I’m no longer signed up for the auto-renew anymore).
        KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Money & Relationships: Finding the Right, “Money Partner”

        1. Emily says:

          Congratulations to your sister! I hope her students get a kick out of the water bottle if she brings it to class.

          That sounds expensive and six months is quite a long time! I am very reluctant to sign up for free trials in the first place because of this reason.

  6. The moment I look at the picture of thai food is I was like envious and craving for it. Thai food is one of the exquisite food in the world though it’s a bit expensive. You were lucky to have got gift card. Emily, what is “MH”?
    Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..5 Reasons Why You’re Not Making Money Online

    1. Emily says:

      Thai food is my favorite and I wish I could make it at home. MH is the initials of the person who gave us the gift card. No tricks there, sorry!

  7. Elizabeth says:

    We like Twisted Noodles too!
    Health insurance is always a confusing topic, but I’ve never paid a dollar for my birth control since ACA went into effect. Hopefully you’ll be able to get your co-pay back!

    1. Emily says:

      Yaaaaaay Twisted Noodles! If you ever see us there you should say HI!

      I called the insurer and the CSR was no help. All she could tell me was the co-pays, not why the copays exist. Kyle is going to try going through HR to just ask if the plan is ACA-compliant or if it was grandfathered. We are going to get this money back out of an FSA funded by Kyle’s employer, but of course that just means less money available for something else that might come up later. I did not this this would be an issue when we changed plans as I didn’t have a co-pay post-ACA for this same med with my previous insurer. Boo!

  8. Priscilla Chamessian says:

    I check your blog regularly and plan to post a substantial comment at some point, but I just have to ask— where are you getting internet for $35?? Our TWC bill for internet and home phone just went to over $85 and I am doneee with them.

    Thanks for all of your wisdom 🙂

    1. Emily says:

      Wooooooah – that is a crazy bill. We also have TWC, but internet only – no bundles. I believe this is a promotional rate as well because we moved a year ago and we’ve been switching whose name the bill is in each time we move to become new customers again. It’s a bit zip code dependent, too. I’m not sure how much it will increase when our year is up (this month or next, I think). The best suggestion I can make is that you should try to negotiate it, though we have never had negotiating success with TWC.

  9. Tarynkay says:

    We pay $30 for just internet through Frontier. There is no contract, but the rate is guaranteed for 2 years. We had TWC before and have been happy with Frontier for the service and lack of weird unexpected fees.

    1. Emily says:

      Great rate! I hope Priscilla sees your suggestion.

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