Our Monthly Update: August

I’m excited to post my first monthly update, mainly because I am hoping it gets easier the more I do it. And because I had a good income month, and I want to be able to look back on it as motivation as we move into the holidays and heavier spending months. There were some positives and some negatives, and I have learned things equally from both.

Like so many other families out there, my teens and I spent more in August than any other month in 2019 so far. Because one of my teens is just starting college this far, we knew we would be spending a hefty amount on dorm room needs, including big ticket items like a microwave and mini fridge. We also bought a laptop, storage bins, and bedding and shower gear.

The initial look at my budget told me that without making any changes to my income and expenses I would be able to save about $300 a month. I am happy to report that I did see that as realized savings this month. In fact, in total I was able to add $900 to my savings for this month. The additional $600 breaks down like this:

Earned an additiona $600 this month!

Earned an additiona $600 this month!

Salary Increase: $402 – Obviously this is a huge increase. I was able to add weekend hours to my normal schedule, particularly Saturday mornings. This added about 6 more hours per week in August, which gave me a nice boost

Roadie income: $46 – I was able to take on 3 assignments this month, at an average of $15 a gig. I was looking to earn about $60 a day on the weekends, but because my night job gave me weekend assignments, I was not able to do as many Roadies. Either way, I made money so that is a good thing.

Cash Back rewards: $84 – I cashed in accumulated rewards from my teen’s prom/graduation in May through August. We were able to earn cash back on mostly all of her prom attire and graduation party supplies. While I did charge these items on my credit card to get the rewards, all of the purchases were paid off in full with money we had saved up for her special occasions.

Ebay: $68 – I was able to sell an external hard drive I found in the closet on Ebay. As my daughter was decluttering for her move to the dorm, we uneartherd several old tech items that I intend to try and sell. This hard drive was the easiest to upload and post since I was able to find like items on the site. I could have probably gotten a little more for the hard drive if I had done a little research into other selling sites, but I wanted to see how much time and effort it would take on ebay.

It was easy enough that I may try to make this a monthly income category.

More on that later . . .

September’s Plan

So the plan for next month will be:

  • Increase monthly income by $500

  • Pay down personal loan by 25% – balance: $2755.00

  • Itemize any savings throughout the month, as listed on the receipts I receive and pay that money toward debt

  • Read one personal finance book or add one podcast to my regular routine. Even though my daily commute is less than 15mins to and from work, I plan to eliminate the music and use that time to continue to learn even more about personal finance.

I am continuing my “no envelope” system of not specifying an amount for groceries, clothing, or entertainment. I used to budget for those categories, like a lot of people, as a way to keep those expenditures in control. But I learned that for my household, not assigning a specific amount, and instead just buying what we need, allows me to put more paycheck money into savings or debt repayment.

I went shopping today and spent a total of $127 on groceries. If I have planned right, I should have enough food to last through the third week of September. If this works out right, I will be able to put that extra $73 (from my old $200 food budget) toward debt.

My plan for next month

My plan for next month

Lastly, I will be working on switching regular monthly payments to autopays. I have read so often that automating payments helps to establish consistency so I want to give this a try. This will allow me to increase debt payments every other month by small increments, without really feeling the effects of the increases. It will help set me up for a switch over to a zero sum budget, which I absolutely think will work great for my teens and me.