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It’s time for another budget report, Picky people! See how our expenses looked during February and where we plan to go in March. You can read January’s budget report here.
Phew! February flew by in a blur. It sucks that it’s such a short month; I always want to do more and then suddenly it’s March.
Let’s see what we spent in February!
Slow ‘n’ steady with our mortgage payment. We’ll start eliminating our mortgage after we pay off our student loans in 2018. Until then, we’ll pay the minimums on the mortgage.
I have to avoid looking at our monthly mortgage breakdown. Of our entire mortgage payment, only $200 of it goes toward the loan principal. Ouchhh. No wonder it takes 30 years to pay these things off with the minimums.
INTERNET: $ 106.64
We budgeted $110 for internet, so I guess I should be thrilled to save $3.36 this month.
Oh joy! Thanks Spectrum (aka Speculum)!
If anyone knows of super-fast internet providers that suck less than Spectrum and are cheaper, let me know about them!
We have the fastest internet package available and the speed has been okay. My issue is that I hate, hate, hate Spectrum and am getting to the point where I don’t want to give them my money.
Our phones were about on par with last month’s costs. It looks like Mr. Picky Pincher is permanently out of luck with wifi access at work, so we’ll pay a little more for data usage from now on.
But hey, this is still leaps and bounds cheaper than our bills when we had AT&T and Verizon. We used to pay over $200 a month for the same damn service.
Also, if you want to try out Google FI, you can try signing up through my referral link. It’ll give you a $20 credit to your account, which means you get a pretty nifty discount off your first month. I also get a $20 discount on my phone bill, so everybody wins. 🙂
I’ve been happy with Google FI. I know the phone selection with them is “meh,” but it hasn’t been too bad. The best part is that you can purchased a used Nexus 5X on eBay or Amazon instead of paying full price through Google.
It was a pain to dump our contracts, but in the long run we saved money and sanity. I’m glad to be rid of a phone contract. Ahhhh.
CAR PAYMENT: $345.36
Ayuuup, we still have a car payment. We intend to pay the minimum each month until this sucker is paid off in 2 – 3 years.
Learn more about our car history here.
Our monthly insurance costs are pretty steady. This includes our homeowner’s and car insurance since they’re bundled.
I did hear insurers can offer discounts if you pay your bills once a year instead of monthly. I think I’ll call our insurer this week to see if we qualify for this discount.
If you’re curious, this is how I lowered our car insurance rates.
UTILITIES (TRASH, WATER, ENERGY): $51.43
Another banner month for utility bills! I wish it could stay this way forever. Ahhh.
The glorious thing about living in Texas is that the winters are remarkably mild. That means our energy bills are really reasonable right now.
In fact, this month we paid $0 for energy. Our energy provider offers a rebate of up to $80 on our bill since we own a Nest thermostat. Next month we’ll see a bill again, but I’m not complaining about a discount. We’ll also get a modest discount if we use the Nest during the summer months–an infamous time of year for Texas utility bills.
Our trash bill is paid quarterly, so we didn’t have a trash bill this month.
The only utility bill listed here is our water bill, which I’m trying not to be salty about. Still seems awfully high for a water bill, but that’s what you get when there’s a lack of competition.
We budgeted $350 for groceries this month, so we’re under budget by $34.32! This is an amazing feat, especially when I think back to our $1,000/mo grocery bill two years ago.
There are a lot of reasons our bill is so low:
- We cook at home and established a weekly restaurant allowance (more on that below).
- We cook our own pantry staples.
- We bought bulk meat.
- We make bulk freezer meals.
- We eat more fresh produce, rice, and beans.
There’s a lot that goes into our grocery and meal-planning strategy. I go over the strategies more in depth (along with 28 days of meal plans and recipes) in my eBook on Amazon if you’d like to check it out.
TAKE OUT: $158.20
We budgeted $200 for take out, so we’re under budget here by $41.80. This is insane because we’re notorious for grabbing food to-go.
We were able to bring down our take out expenses this month by:
- Creating a $25/week budget for restaurant meals. Obviously we went over this budget (mostly because of my birthday–oops), but it gave us flexibility and structure. I think this is more effective than telling ourselves, “DO NOT EAT OUT AT ALL. YOU WILL SUFFER.” There’s something about creating a hard-and-fast rule that makes me want to break it. 🙂 Anyhoo, this is much more effective for keeping us within our budget.
- Cooking freezer meals. I used to make fun of freezer prep meals because they looked disgusting. But now we’ve found meals we adore and that freeze well, which eliminates the need to pick up Chik-Fil-A. And that means more money in our pockets. If you’re not sure how to do freezer cooking, check out our weekly What’s For Dinner? post. It shows everything we ate during the week and is a great resource for tasty frozen meals (that aren’t soup!).
Nothing too crazy here, just a copay and a prescription.
We’re over-budget on gas by $63.82. We didn’t go on any trips, but Mr. Picky Pincher did quite a lot of driving in the truck to pick up a quarter-cow we bought last week.
STUDENT LOANS: $3,599.69
Student loans aren’t really a cost since we’re building our net worth by paying them off. But I still think it’s helpful to include this here as an expense so you can see where our money goes.
We’re only able to pay this much on our student loans because all of our savings goes on the loans. We created a savings cushion before we began paying off student loans, so there’s no need for us to put money into savings each month.
For an in-depth guide on how we were able to pay so much on our student loans, sign up for our free 30-Day Frugal Cleanse. It’ll give you juicy advice to drastically cut expenses to pay off debt.
We all knew this was coming, didn’t we? We budgeted $950 for Other expenses and we’re over budget by $165.65.
We budgeted more this month because we anticipated more expenses.
Here are a few notable February expenses:
- Beer supplies: Mr. Picky Pincher bought $200 of supplies for beer-making. While it’s an upfront expense, we expect to save money in the long run by making our own beer. This is the kit he bought to get started. He made an amber ale first and now is brewing a stout. Yummo!
- Beer: Since it takes a month for beer to brew, we still stocked up on beer this month. Instead of buying beer as we needed/wanted (the difference is debatable around here!) each week, we bought it all at the beginning of the month. It cost $87. That sounds like a lotta money, but buying one large batch of beer cut our monthly beer costs by $50. We expect to see this go down as Mr. Picky Pincher’s home brews take off.
- Presents: We have a lot of March birthday girls in our family, so we did a lotta birthday shopping. I like to shop the month ahead so I don’t feel rushed, so that’s why these expenses were added to our February budget.
- My birfday: Sooo my birthday was a more expensive affair than it should have been. Agh. We spent $50 at a restaurant for lunch and $4 on bundt cakes (no regrets). It was fun and money well-spent, but I was hoping for it to be more frugal.
- Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing Course: This was my birthday present to myself. 🙂 I’m looking for better ways to turn this blog into a full-time gig. I also would LOVE to remove banner ads from the site to improve your experience. And that means learning how to do better affiliate marketing to keep the lights on around here. While my background is in marketing and I heartily chuckled at the idea of learning marketing from a random person on the internet, I learned A LOT from this course. I did sign up to be an affiliate for the course, but I would recommend it even if I weren’t an affiliate. It’s a great way to learn to monetize your site in a genuine, non-spammy way. Sign up through this referral link and see what all the hubbub is about. 🙂
TOTAL EXPENSES: $3,612.79
TOTAL EXPENSES WITH STUDENT LOANS: $7,212.48
SAVINGS RATE: 52%
COST PER MEAL: $2.93
February was another month of fails and wins. I’m very proud to be under budget on food for the first time in … ever? Maybe?
Food is a tough expense for us Picky eaters, so I can’t stress how freakin’ stoked I am to have a normal grocery bill. Woop woop! I would love to continue the trend of being under budget on food in March.
We’d also like to keep our Other expenses under $500 next month. This budget category is the next great frontier. Often our purchases aren’t “fun things” that blow the budget, so we might have to get creative with cutting this category. Hmmm.
Luckily March is a three-paycheck month for me, so that means we’ll put more on our student loans next month. I can’t complain about that. 🙂
We want to know: How was your February? Were you a Frugal Fergus or a Spendy Susie?