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It’s time for our second-ever Budget Report, Picky People! See how our expenses looked during September and where we plan to go in October.

Since we bought a house this month, some of our expenses are a little topsy-turvy. We expect September through November to be a little nuts as far as extra expenses, but as we get settled in, it should all even out.

Rent: $1,060

I am SO HAPPY that October will be the last time we pay rent.

And in what seems like too-coincidental timing, our apartment neighbors have been extra annoying lately, whether it’s playing racquetball in the narrow parking lot, darting into the street while we’re driving, or taking loud phone calls by our bedroom window at 11 pm.

It’s just extra motivation to get the hell out!

IRA Contribution: $200

Some people think that you shouldn’t save money for retirement if you still have debt.

I, however, am of the philosophy that you really need time on your side when it comes to retirement. So I still contribute $200 every month to take advantage of compound interest. I could apply that $200 to debt, but then I would have zero retirement savings, which can really come back to haunt you!

Internet: $84.92

Our internet bill is really higher than I would like. I’m hoping we’ll have more choices for internet once we move into the house.

Phone service: $63.12

We budget $60 for our phones each month, and this month we went a little over that. We typically spend about $50, but since we have Google Fi, we’re charged by how much data we use.

Since we’re at the house every day for several hours, we end up using data while we aren’t on wifi, which means higher phone bills. This should level out soon.

Car Payment: $345.36

I know, I know! It looks weird for a debt-hating couple to have a car payment. But it actually works out for us better to keep our car payment than trading in for a paid-off car. You can read aaaall about our car escapades here. Our car will be paid off in a few years, so that’s not too shabby!

Utilities: $169.85

This is for trash, water, and energy.

Our utility bill for water in particular is super stupid at our apartment. They changed billing companies a few months ago, and our bill went from $17 a month to $60 a month! We’ve tried to fight it, but the apartments are being super-jerks about it. We’re hoping to see this number decrease after we get the hell out of Dodge.

Insurance: $138.42

This number will change next month once our homeowner’s insurance hits. We’re able to save a lot by bundling our car insurance and home/renter’s insurance together. I also did defensive driving last year, which earned us a discounted car insurance rate over the next few years. Worth it!

Groceries: $409.06

Our groceries were over-budget by $59.06 this month. I think the reason is threefold: a) we bought a lot of meat this month, b) we had to buy groceries for both the apartment and the house, and c) we’ve been buying more processed food for convenience.

While this is still quite low for us, I know we can get this number lower. We haven’t had nearly as much time to prep and cook homemade meals because of the renovation. For example, I haven’t made bread in at least a month, because I don’t have time to knead it every hour and baby the dough.

Hopefully we can improve our grocery costs once we’re a little less nomadic. And plus we’ll have a GIGANTIC kitchen with plenty of space and utilities. 🙂

Take out: $452.96


We’re over-budget by a whopping $202.96 on take out for the month.

Now, this could partly be due to a celebration dinner we had after we closed on our house. It was pricey, but we had a great time with everyone and it was worth it.

It’s also due to us not cooking at home as much and picking up fast food during the renovation.

Knowing what I know now, we’re making much better progress on this number already in October. It doesn’t matter how tired or stressed out we are; we need to make time to plan meals we’re actually going to cook and eat.

Medical: $0

We were under budget for medical costs by $50, so that almost makes up for our grocery faux pas!

Other: $639.08

A few notable “Other” expenses included:

  • Getting new driver’s licenses
  • A Costco trip where we bought plastic cutlery, paper plates, and cups for the house
  • We had to renew our car’s inspection and registration
  • We bought a birthday gift
  • We purchased Girl Scout treats from my niece

We were under budget here by about $20, which is actually pretty good for us. Our “Other” budget used to be about $1,000 a month, so I’d say we’re slowly improving here. We had to buy a little more than usual to accommodate for the house renovation; ie. Needing rubber gloves to pick up something gross on a moment’s notice.

Gas: $191.54

We’re over budget on gas by $41.54 this month.

We usually come just under or on budget here, but this month was different. We visited Mr. Picky Pincher’s parents as well as my parents, who live 2 and 5 hours away respectively, so that can add up! It also doesn’t help that we’ve been shuttling between the apartment and the house for the last few weeks.

Savings: 53.69% of take-home pay

Here’s where things get fun!

In spite of all our expenses and crazy stuff that’s come up, we were still able to sock away 53.69% of our take-home pay. That’s an improvement over our previous savings rate of 50%! This amount will change as we start paying down on student loans and freeze emergency savings contributions, but for right now it feels awesome. We never would have been able to do this without cutting our expenses!

Check out our 30-Day Frugal Cleanse blog to see what steps we took to increase our savings rate.

October Goals

I love going over last month’s numbers because it gives us a roadmap for this month’s expenses.

I really want to decrease our take out expenses in October. We’re still renovating through this month, so it’s going to be a challenge, but I really think we can decrease food costs if we focus on our menu more. I’m going to try to do quick and easy meals instead of our more elaborate stuff.

I’d also like to make it a habit to meet once a week with Mr. Picky Pincher to look at the budget. We used to be really good about this, but have kind of fallen off the bandwagon since life has been so busy. I think it’s important to analyze the budget regularly so we can correct any errant spending.

I would also like to maintain our fantastic savings rate in October! It’s great to see that we can be significantly over budget in some areas and are still able to save. If we can rein in extra spending, we can put even more money into savings.

We want to know: How did you save money in September?

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