Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Financial Wrap Up

I feel like I'm finally getting a better handle on our money, and how to adjust it monthly to cover variances. Tracking our spending has been *incredibly* eye opening, and we've now completed our third month of budget tracking.

First up, a summary.
  • Our regular income for November was $14,088
  • Stock awards that I was granted years ago finally vested, and totaled  $6,862.65 (this is a "bonus" from my employer, based on performance)
  • M received an $80,000 (after-tax) bonus
Total income for the month was $100,950. Obviously, this was an odd month & our standard income is usually the $14K number.

Total spend for the month was $16,021.12. This is approximately $3,647.12 over our intended spend for the month. That said, $1956 of that overspending was intentional, and we used some of the stock award money to fulfill our 2011 goal of balancing out our kids college funds. (Our older son's fund was substantially higher than our younger son's GET account, due to a huge rise in tuition costs.) The accounts are now even, and both funded at 40% completion (tuition credits only). That leaves $1,691.12 that we overspent & didn't intend to. . . Oops.

The rest of the stock vest will be used to cover closing costs next week, as we're refinancing our vacation mortgage from a 30 year to a 15 year, at a better rate.

The planned spending for the $80,000 bonus is as follows:
  • $35K to M's 401K loan payoff. (We took this loan out a year or so ago to buy down our own primary mortgage to get us under a jumbo loan and greatly reduce our payments.)
  • $5K for a spring break trip to Hawaii. I'm still working to see if I can fly four of us to Hawaii for a reasonable amount.
  • $5K to the boys college accounts.
  • $35K to our savings account, earmarked for a replacement for M's car when the time comes.
Back to our regular budget. . .

We spent less than planned on the following categories:
  • Gas. Budget was $600 (I bumped it up from $500, as we drove to our vacation house 2x this month) & we spent $493.71
  • Utilities for vacation house. This is likely because we weren't there in October using power/heat/water, so November's bills were lower.
  • Gifts (excludes Christmas). I was able to use gift cards and a store credit to purchase the two birthday gifts that I needed.
  • Travel. I budgeted $50 for parking when I had my girls trip with my mother & sister, but parking turned out to be free.
  • Primary mortgage. I think I must have just made a typo in the number of what we typically pay, because I know we paid our full payments, but it's $50 less than I was expected. I'm guessing this is my own math error. ;-)
We spent as planned in the following categories:
  • Boys lessons. No bills were due this month, as most of their activities/lessons are paid quarterly. I was able to predict this (through the magic of budgeting & tracking!)
  • Personal. I budgeted and spent the amount expected on the tip for my free massage & M got his hair cut as planned.
  • Charity. Our donations were scheduled via our standard payroll deductions. I did pick up a few angel tree items, but those were purchased with a gift card, so not out of our income.
  • Insurance. Our car insurance remained the same.
We spent more than planned in the following categories:
  • Groceries. AGAIN. Grrrr. I'm definitely a work in progress on this one. The good news? I spent less than last month! :-) $687.95, and my budget was $600.
  • Dining out. I knew this month would be expensive for dining out, but didn't predict appropriately. In addition, M & I ate out for lunch a few times as mini-dates, even though the bulk of our eating out budget was used up by other things. This included: lunch, dinner, drinks, & breakfast on my girls trip. I'll be getting back $95 from my sister for her portion, so recalculated base on how much I spent . . . budget was $300 & we spent $490.25
  • Primary residence utilities. I was double billed by our garbage company, so I should be under next month. Budget was $700 & we spent $736.70
  • Boys clothes. I took advantage of a few Black Friday deals, to stock our vacation house with clothes and pajamas in the next size up. They will need shoes next month, but should be good to go for clothing. Budget was $0, and we spent $251.23
  • My clothes. I had to buy a few items this month (trouser socks, a pair of flats) in the ongoing saga of finding appropriate footwear. I have a broken bone in my foot & can't wear the vast majority of shoes that I own. Budget was $50 & I spent $131.14.
  • Child care. I was almost correct with my predictions on this one, but ended up taking the boys to our gym one Saturday to get in a work out when M was out of town. My gift to myself. :-) Budget was $1710, and we spent $1718.
  • Health. N had the unexpected dental work, which set us back $195.58. Budget was $0.
  • Cars. M's car needed a few things (standard repairs), but I foolishly forgot that November is the month I have to renew my registration. Budget was $200, and we spent $258.20
  • Boys (misc). M has a bad habit of picking up toys/gifts for the kids when he's out of town. Budget was $0, and we spent $51.96
  • Liquor. I'm actually kind of embarrassed to put this out there, but what's a little shame among friends? ;-) Budget was $40, and we spent $211.57. I had to replace two items in our standard stock, which was the bulk of this. We did not actually consume this much alcohol, & I feel compelled to point out that we typically have 1-2 glasses of wine or drinks on weekends, and that's it. We did bring wine to a few holiday events as well.
  • Boys college funds. As noted, I had zero budgeted for this, but decided to complete our 2011 goal & add $1956 to my younger son's account.
  • Cleaning. We pay weekly, and November had more Wednesdays than a typical month. Budget was $346, and we spent $400.
  • Christmas. I picked up our Christmas cards yesterday, & came in under budget. All that's left are a few stocking items for M, the treat I will plan for N's preschool class, & postage for the cards. Yeah! Overall, I'm under budget for this. However, the way I created the budget, I divided the total into October, November, & December. I will not need the December funds, so while October is over, I'm under for the holiday as a whole. Clear as mud, right? ;-) I spent $872.28, but will be getting $323 back from others, making my total spend $549.28. My budget for the month was $350.
  • Vacation mortgage. I made a small extra principal payment, and our insurance has gone up, so our escrow/total payment is higher each month. Budget was $1950, total spent was $1973.54. We are actually mid-way through refinancing this to a 15 year mortgage, so I 'll be completely re-doing the numbers again for December.

Wow, if you made it all the way through that, you deserve a prize! How did you fare in November? Any big wins, or areas that you'll focus on in December?


  1. are you signed up for any airline or hotel reward programmes? sounds like an excellent way to cut cost on that hawaii vacation and it's easy to do. From miles/points for credit card purchases to miles for online shopping, sometimes at 3-5-7-10 miles per dollar spent. There are some good blogs (, give great tips on amassing miles as well so you should check it out.

  2. Thanks for the tips - I will definitely check out those sites. I need all the help I can get!

    So far, we have a frequent flier program via the airline that's based in Seattle (Alaska) & also a credit card that earns reward point for Starwood. My parents celebrated their 40th anniversary, so we used the Starwood points to send them to Hawaii for 10 days, so we're pretty much starting from scratch with our points.

  3. I totally need to balance the budget tonight!

    you guys are doing good. I'm impressed that you fund your children's college accounts. That will help them so much.