Psst, I make money on some of the links in this post at no cost to you. It keeps the lights on around here.

It’s time for another budget report, Picky people! See how our expenses looked during October and where we plan to go in November.Β You can read September’sΒ budget report here.

Happy day-after-Halloween, everyone! Yesterday was a day of ~spooky~ activities like trick-or-treating or peeing yourself in a haunted house.

And, I mean, what could be scarier than reviewing our monthly numbers for October?

(I am the queen of segues.)

It shouldn’t be scary to review your numbers every month. Not reviewing your money because you’ll fear the results is like not going to the doctor to get a mole checked out because you’re afraid it’s cancerous.

Ignorance does not solve the problem!

This is why Mr. Picky Pincher and I try to check our budget once a week, as well as one review at the end of the month (more on how we budget in this post). This helps our spending stay on track, which means we can pile even more moolah on our student loans.

With that in mind, let’s get to October’s numbers.

P.S. If you haven’t already, please join our Picky Pinchers Facebook group! I designed it to be a safe haven for frugal-minded folk to ask questions and share both life and money wins. I’d love to see you there! πŸ™‚

Mortgage: $1,099.83

Ahh, our beloved mortgage payment. Isn’t it crazy how, with a 30-year note, you’re paying just the interest for the first five years? This is why we plan to decimate our home loan after we eliminate the student loans at the end of 2018.

mortgage payment

Not my house, just something to liven up the text here. πŸ˜‰

Internet: $106.64

I’ve been trying to figure out how to handle our internet bill. We currently rent our router from Spectrum. Since I hate Spectrum to begin with, I despise giving them more money than we need to.Β 

My dad generously gifted us a router to use so we could drop the $10/mo rental fee. Unfortunately the router wasn’t compatible with our service, so we’re back to square one.

I’m thinking about buying this ARRIS modem (Amazon link here). Anyone have experience with these? We’d at least make our money back after nine months, and after that it would be savings.Β 

Phones: $53.49

I loooove how low our phone bill has been! Mr. Picky Pincher has been in his office for a few months now, which means he has better access to wifi and uses less data.

We’re way under our $80 budget for phone service and that feels great. πŸ™‚ I remember when we used to pay $250 a month for the same damn service. I did a review here after one year of being with Google Fi (hint: I still love them).

If you’d like to join Google Fi, you can do so through my affiliate link right here. After 30 days, Google Fi will credit your account with $20.

Nifty eh?

Car payment: $345.36

Yup, we still have a car payment!Β Learn more about our car saga here.

Insurance: $158.91

This includes homeowner’s insurance, life insurance, andΒ car insurance. This bill is lower this month because it’s the end of quarter for our insurance billing. It’ll be back to over $300 next month, but I’m going to enjoy the lower bill this month. πŸ™‚

I’m excited because our insurer said they’re going to call to evaluate our driving habits. I haven’t told them that I work remotely now and that our vehicles have significantly less miles on them. That should mean that they will decrease our insurance rate. I can’t wait for the call!

I never thought I’d want to talk to an insurance rep so badly.

Utilities (trash, water, energy): $281.05

This is a great time of year to live in Texas. The weather is slowly getting cooler, with temperatures hovering in the 40 – 70 degree range. That means we rarely have to run our A/C or heater, the biggest energy suckers in our home.

And that means savings. πŸ™‚


Although we were under budget on our energy bill, our water bill was high. We budgeted $85 but we were billed $110. This was a result of them under-billing us last month, because government billing makes no sense.

The water company sent us a notice saying they plan to increase water rates next year, as well as the year after that. It will amount to a whopping 40% increase in rates over the next two years. I wish we were able to choose our water company because the city sucks at this.Β 

Groceries: $340.69

We budgeted $350 on groceries and we slid in just under budget! Woohoo!

You can catch up on our budget-slashing grocery adventures in our What’s for Dinner? posts. It shows how we eat an eclectic menu that’s reasonably healthy without busting the budget.

If you want to cook like the Picky Pinchers, I’m releasing The Picky Pinchers Cookbook on December 1. Pricing starts at $4.99 for early birds and will increase from there, so don’t miss out! You can learn more here and sign up to be the first to know when it’s out. πŸ™‚

Take out: $171.22

We budgeted $200 for takeout and somehow came in under budget. I did eat about $100 of takeout during FinCon, but I paid for those expenses solely with my independent freelancing income. And that means it had zero impact on our household food budget. Booyah.

Instead of eating out at sit-down restaurants, we’ve started opting for cheaper options like fast food or sandwiches. We don’t have to pay tips and the food is much cheaper. The dollar menu options are also to die for.


Medical: $146.55


We budgeted $100 for medical and went over. I’ve been battling an annoying respiratory sickness since mid-September. Earlier in October I went to an emergency clinic and shelled out $75 for the doc visit. On top of that, I paid another $40 for prescriptions (inhalers are so expensive, y’all!). This small experience has been humbling and was a reminder of how health problems can cost you. I can’t imagine the difficulties individuals face with significant illnesses.

Over the counter meds, throat spray, and cough drops also added up in our Other budget category.

Once Libby the Lymph Node reduces to her normal size, I do think I need to get a flu shot to prevent more illness-related costs. The best part? Our insurance completely covers it. πŸ™‚

Gas: $42.15

Gas costs were strangely low this month. We really didn’t go anywhere, other than a trip to visit Mr. Picky Pincher’s parents. I did drive quite a lot to FinCon, but again, those funds were taken from the freelancing account.

We spent about $100 last month on gas, so I ain’t too mad about this. πŸ™‚

Student Loans: $3,000

Yay!!!! We’re putting a minimum of $3,000 on student loans this month. We might apply more onto the loans, but we’ll need to crunch the numbers and see.Β 

I can’t believe that we’re able to put this much money towards debt each month. I remember the days when we lived paycheck to paycheck and any extra payments were a hardship.

I’ll be damned–this lifestyle change works. πŸ™‚

Other: $1,821.31

Oh, the Other category. The slayer of dreams. The smasher of goals. We’re $350 over budget here, which completely makes sense when I look at our October expenses.

We really did have a lot of ‘wants’ expenses this month. This isn’t ideal, and I know we could always do better. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wants, but I do think we could better balance and time these purchases so they have a lesser effect on our budget.

Here are some notable October expenses:

  • Meditation pillow: Mr. Picky Pincher has been making his new office a sanctuary space. He bought this gorgeous buckwheat meditation pillow for his office so he could meditate during lunch (Amazon link here). I think there is so much value to daily meditation, and he’s mentioned that he feels a lot more centered and less stressed. He can also use the pillow if he wants to take a quick nap on the floor, too. πŸ™‚
  • Microwave and mini fridge: The strangest thing happens at Mr. Picky Pincher’s workplace. If you place something in the shared break room fridge, it may or may not sprout legs and mysteriously disappear. We got Mr. Picky Pincher a microwave and mini fridge for his private office so, y’know, if his creamer grows legs, it won’t be able to walk out of his office. πŸ˜‰ It’s more of a need than a want, but he’s been very happy with it. He’s also able to store more food from home in the fridge, which means less temptation to buy food on the go.
  • Costume costs: I made my cat lady costume for $20 from a variety of thrift store items. Mr. Picky Pincher is doing a kooky but high-quality paper mask that he made himself. I confess that this was pricier than we thought it would be, at about a $60 total cost for his ‘stume.Β Oops! The upside is that all costumes can be reused next year. I plan to wear the cat lady costume until it ceases to be ironic and that’s just my full-time identity.Β 
  • Fancy flip flops: My $10 Payless flip flops finally kicked the bucket and I was in need of new sandals. I nearly bought another cheapo pair until I thought about my mission to prioritize quality over being cheap. I bit the bullet and went to REI to try on sandals. I fell in love with a pair of Olukai sandals, but they didn’t have my size. I poked around online and ordered a pair for $65 (Amazon link here if you’re curious). I admit this hurt. A lot. I haven’t spent this much on shoes since I bought my wedding attire. I did my homework, though, and these are flip flops that last people over five years. I don’t want to keep buying shoddy products that require frequent replacement and extra trips to the landfill. I loooove my new sandals and I plan to get many years out of them.
  • Gifts: We had a few birthdays this month, as well as a baby shower.
  • Phone cable and charger: I didn’t think I would have much access to power outlets during FinCon (I was right), so I got this external battery (Amazon link here). I was able to keep my phone fully charged and didn’t have to desperately camp out by an outlet. I could enjoy my trip without worrying about not being connected. I also got an extra cable so I could charge my phone via our car’s USB plug. I’m keeping the cord in the car so we’ll always have a way to charge our phones.
  • Bowling: I bought a Groupon a few months back for bowling. It was about to expire, so we went to the bowling alley. Mr. Picky Pincher completely smoked me, but we had a great time. πŸ™‚ We bought the Groupon, as well as onion rings and nachos.
  • Pest control: We pay for quarterly pest control. While I know some people like to do pest control themselves, this is something we choose to outsource. It’s all about finding what you’re willing to forfeit your money for in exchange for your time. We let the pros spray for bugs because they’re fast, efficient, and deal with the chemicals.
  • Tires:Β  Ugh. I was so distracted prepping for FinCon that I forgot to mention this. It’s a long story, but we had to buy a new set of tires. Mr. Picky Pincher haggled with the tire guy and managed to bring the price down from $650 to $500.
  • Running clothes: I am so proud of Mr. Picky Pincher. He’s been running either in the mornings or evenings to clear his head and stay in shape. After maintaining the habit for a few weeks, he realized he only has one pair of running clothes. That makes running and being un-stinky a real challenge. We went to REI and scored him a few shirts and shorts. As luck would have it, REI ran a sale on these items. They were much cheaper in-store than they were online, which was a nice score. He got just the items he wanted and he was good to go. I’m all about encouraging healthy habits, and movement is one of the best things we can do in our digital age. πŸ™‚
  • Home Depot: Mr. Picky Pincher stayed busy while I was out last week. He made a trellis for our berry bushes and cleaned up the yard. This did necessitate a few trips to Home Depot for items that my brain doesn’t understand.
  • Planner: Y’all know how much I love owning a paper planner. This month I ordered a new 2018 planner for $15. This is the one I ordered on Amazon.Β 


Total expenses: $4,567.20

Total expenses with student loans: $7,567.20

Keep in mind that the student loans are going towards debt and aren’t technically β€œspending.” I just think it’s helpful to include them in a separate figure.

Savings rate: 41.22%

Cost per meal: $2.84


November goals

Wowza, did y’all see that cost per meal? I love it! We did really well with our food goals this month, which is amazing. We just have to keep trucking along. πŸ™‚

I’m not a fan of the amount of ‘want’-y purchases we made this month, so I want to rein those in as much as possible. The good news is that most of these purchases were for high-quality items that we plan to use for the long term, which makes me feel better. I’m all about spending money on good stuff that will last a long time.

As far as November goes, I want to get even better with our cost per meal while watching our Other costs (but what else is new?). Next month is Mr. Picky Pincher’s birthday and we’re also hosting Thanksgiving in our home for the first time. It’ll be a fun month, but we’ll keep working to keep down the costs as the holidays inevitable inch closer and closer. πŸ™‚

We want to know: How was your November? Were you a Frugal Francine / Fergus or a Spendy Susie / Stan?Β 

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