January 2015 Money Puddle and Spending Report

January was another blockbuster month for spending. I think we’ve set a new record for high spending month after month! I hope it is the last one for some time, though.


I’ve already addressed one of the big spending areas – new clothes! I bought a bunch of pieces for a new business casual wardrobe for my fellowship, and Kyle also bought two new pairs of jeans and spent what he called an Emily-level of money on them rather than getting them from Target (those kept wearing it super fast).


We also repaired and re-registered my car. I will probably write a whole post on becoming a two-car family (again), so for now I’ll just say that we spent about $1,000 on an initial repair and then another $200 when another warning light came on a few days later. The second warning light actually caused us to swap cars – I took Kyle’s car to DC and Kyle kept mine in Durham to finish the repairs and we swapped back on our first weekend visit. If you remember from when we first benched my car, we had been quoted $1,200 in repairs, so it doesn’t appear that we did a bunch of damage in the intervening three years (but time will tell).


Kyle does not have a roommate. I was going to say that he decided against getting one, but it was really that he was just against the idea from the beginning and procrastinated on looking for one until it was just too late. So we are still paying double occupancy housing costs in Durham and none in DC.


This month we also received a sizeable cash Christmas gift from one set of our parents, which we put directly into our House Downpayment Fund.



Money Puddle


Our money puddle represents our gross income from December, less taxes, our tithe, and savings into our Roth IRAs. This is the source of all of our spending money for the month (before dipping into savings).


January 2015 Money Puddle: $2,088.13


  • Kyle’s postdoc paycheck
  • Emily’s contract work paycheck




Housing and Utilities

  • rent $910
  • electricity $79.05
  • internet $34.99
  • cell phones $137.40: I’m still with Republic Wireless and very happy with it. Kyle switched services this month to something cheaper, so I’m thinking we’ll get a bit of a refund eventually for the service we stopped. I’m trying to convince him to write a post on his incredibly extensive research into phone plans (he’s continually getting into arguments with CSRs because he finds out about unadvertised plans they don’t know about) but it’s an uphill battle.
  • water $38.19



Our transportation costs are going to be quite a bit higher going forward because we are traveling on most weekends to see one another and I am commuting daily by Metro. This month we also had the start-up costs of getting my car back on the road.

  • gas $112.45
  • Megabus ticket $57.25
  • Metro $100
  • car repairs $1,173.69
  • car registration and tax $88.60



I don’t even know what happened here. This is atrocious. I don’t ever think we’ve spent so much on groceries in a month ever.

  • groceries $531.23 + $178.38 + $18: The $500+ was spent out of our money puddle officially. The $180 was on a Costco gift card we received for Christmas. The $18 was in cash. I need to like forensically figure out wth happened! Was it just stocking up on some things for me in DC? This cannot happen again.
  • eating out $112.77: Also unusually high for us, but possibly going to be the new normal.


Shopping and Personal Care

  • Amazon Prime $7.92: Kyle forgot to cancel Amazon Prime but then was somehow able to convert it to a free student version or something after a few days. Now he just has to remember to cancel it in 6 months.
  • electronics $26.86: Kyle got a raspberry pi for Christmas so he bought a few accessories.
  • new wardrobe $911.01: Most of this is for my new wardrobe, but a little was on Kyle. I’m lumping in some cosmetics purchases here because I’m starting to wear makeup daily for my job. L
  • haircut $55
  • Christmas gifts $146.98




Reimbursed from Charitable Giving





Money Puddle: $2,088.13

Total Spending: $4,730.01

Difference: $2,641.88


We have three ways of assessing how successful we were in terms of living within our means this month.


1: Did we spend within our money puddle+$176?


Simple question – did we have money left in our checking account at the end of the month or did we need to transfer money in? (This is after accounting for the smoothed retirement contributions from my last two paychecks, which come out of savings.)


No! We spent more than 200% of our money puddle!


2: Was our deficit, if any, less than the amount we saved to our Roth IRAs?


Heck no. We only saved a few hundred into the Roths.


3: Did our net worth increase?


I’m going to bow out of answering this one because I was paid in a lump sum in mid-January and I don’t have the time or motivation to do the necessary calculations. So yes it went up because of that bolus of income, but I still think we may have had a bigger deficit than the increases in our investment balances.



I hope to never have a month like this again!


Have you had a month that you hope you won’t have to repeat? How much have you overspent when you’re in transition?


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8 Responses to "January 2015 Money Puddle and Spending Report"

  1. Transitions are really, really hard. You always need to spend $$ to stock up or get things you need now that you didn’t before (like your makeup for a new situation) and plus your routine is unsettled and that makes me, anyway, more likely to spend on things I find comforting or just on things that are easy (you don’t know where the cheap dry cleaners are, so… or whatever it happens to be, if not dry cleaning.) Your financial lives are in WAY better shape than most recent grad students’ — it’ll sort itself out eventually.
    C@thesingledollar recently posted..What to do with the $$ I’m saving on gas

    1. Emily says:

      Yes, I agree that we were in a good position to go through these transitions, first in me having Kyle’s income to fall back on, second with our cash savings, and third with our overall net worth being quite positive. I probably won’t even try to find the most cost-effective services close by since it’s such a short period of time – I’m mostly just using whatever my parents use (which is probably based on convenience). We are definitely eating out more than is typical because being together on weekends feels celebratory in itself!

  2. That was a really big month!

    Do you feel like things have settled down and you’re “transitioned” now? Big life changes can be costly, throw in car repairs, ouch!
    Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom recently posted..It Feels Good to be back on Tracking

    1. Emily says:

      We did anticipate the car repairs and had saved specifically for them (over-saved, actually) when we had our full complement of targeted savings accounts, so that wasn’t out of the blue thankfully!

      Yes, I do feel settled! And I hope the transition back to Durham in April will go much better! Consolidating “households” should be easier than establishing them.

  3. Another success you have there Emily. You’ve set a really good start. My January is not that awesome because I paid credit card bills and paid taxes. But, in all, I can still consider it a good start. Hope our Feb would be more awesome.
    Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..Are you waiting for a silver platter?

    1. Emily says:

      It was a rough start to the year for us as well but that doesn’t have to set the tone for the year!

  4. Leigh says:

    You guys spent more than me in January! I didn’t think that would ever happen 😉
    Leigh recently posted..January 2015 net worth update (-0.5%)

    1. Emily says:

      Haha well I do hope our lifestyle and income increases at some point so that this kind of spending is not crazy for us.

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