Progress Report!

We’ve reached the end of our first full month of combined budgeting with my new and improved budgeting spreadsheet!  Time to check in and see how we did.

Some reminders:  our focus has been on reducing spending.  You’ll recall my shock and awe upon learning that in 2016 we appear to have spent $110,000.  That spending broke down roughly like this:

Total Monthly average
2016 post-tax spending $110,000 $9,167
2016 fixed spending $55,606 $4,634
2016 variable spending $54,394 $4,533

Alarmingly, the first three months of 2017 (before we started our present attempts at frugality) were EVEN WORSE than the 2016 averages!  Though our fixed spending was slightly lower, our variable spending was significantly higher.

Good thing we woke up and started thinking about the greener pastures that might await us if we could master the art of spending less.  Because (drumroll please…) our first month of combined finances and budgeting was a big improvement!  Our fixed spending was down 9% over the 2016 average, and our variable spending was down a whopping 29% over the 2016 average!!!!  If we spent at this level for a year, we’d be at $89,053 in spending for the year.  Now, I recognize that many people would scoff at this number but remember, this is a journey.  I’d say we’re making big progress!  Here are the nitty gritty details, in case you’re wondering:

Jan/Feb Feb/March Mar/April April/May
Total post-tax spending $10,558 $10,284 $9,944 $7,421
Annualized $126,693 $123,404 $119,326 $89,053
YTD annualized $126,693 $125,049 $123,141 $114,619
% change over previous month -3% -3% -25%
% change over 2016 average 15% 12% 8% -19%
Fixed spending $4,493 $4,393 $4,580 $4,199
% change over previous month -2% 4% -8%
% change over 2016 average -3% -5% -1% -9%
Variable spending $6,065 $5,891 $5,364 $3,222
% change over previous month -3% -9% -40%
% change over 2016 average 34% 30% 18% -29%

So what did we do well and where did we still spend big this month?  So glad you asked.  Here’s how our most recent month’s variable spending compares to the average of the first three months of the year by category:

Avg. pre-Greener Pastures April/May % change Savings
Food $1,453 $727 -50% $727
home goods $404 $9 -98% $395
Home furnishings & home improvement $1,600 $1,279 -20% $321
clothing $327 $156 -52% $172
Personal care $234 $71 -70% $163
Kids $405 $170 -58% $235
Public transport $156 $0 -100% $156
Cabs $53 $27 -48% $25
Car stuff $77 $61 -20% $16
Travel $550 $0 -100% $550
Entertainment $115 $216 88% -$101
Gifts $69 $327 374% -$258
Donations $199 $50 -75% $149
Medical $267 $54 -80% $213
TOTAL savings: $2,764

WOW!   Look at that food savings!  And home goods!  And look at how all the other categories add up to a BIG ASS NUMBER!

That is to say, for anyone doubting the power of thinking small (which I’ve talked about before, and I need to talk about again based on some recent conversations), doubt no more!  The shift you’re seeing in the above numbers is as much due to small, everyday decisions as it is to big ones.  We’ve been walking to and from work instead of taking public transportation, which, at $1.80 per ride for two people saves $7.20 per day.  I hemmed my own pants, cut my son’s hair, cut my own hair, and my husband shined and repaired my work shoes instead of taking them to the cobbler.  We had a fun Sunday morning hopping from house to house when a nearby town had a town-wide garage sale weekend, and bought a pile of new, awesome books (in great condition) for our son at 25 cents apiece, rather than buying them new.  We chose to DIY several painting projects in our house instead of paying a painter to do them.  We got lucky on the weather, and didn’t have to use much heat or air conditioning for the month.  And in general, we just considered before each expenditure whether there was a way to get the thing we wanted for cheaper or free.

Now… Where did we still spend big?  Home furnishings and home improvement — we had one expensive house repair, bought some things to spruce up our back deck, and have been in the process of upgrading our bed from a queen to a king . Part of the bed expense bled into this month from last month because the original mattress we bought was not comfortable, and we wound up getting a more expensive one.  We had some (basically) unavoidable expenses — a good friend’s wedding, for which we bought a nice gift.  Some work events for which we had to get childcare.

But, all in all, I would say we’ve made a good start towards… a yet-to-be-determined GOAL (more on that, soon).  Cheerio!

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