Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Budget changes for 2019

While much of our budget for the second half of the year is up on the air (based on my decision to come back after my sabbatical, and if so, at part time capacity, etc), we are making a few planned budget changes for 2019.

Budget categories that are increasing:

  • Alcohol, from $20/month to $50/month. Now that we are eating in so much more, and/or going out to eat at restaurants that allow you to bring your own wine, we're allocating a bit more for a nicer bottle or two of wine per month. This makes us feel like we still have an entertainment budget. 
  • Travel, from $7000/year to $8000/year. We *cough* did not spend anywhere close to $7000 on travel for 2018 (more like $15,600), so we're trying to be more reasonable for 2019. 
  • House, from $3950/year to $20,000 year. We spent nowhere near $3,950 in 2018 (over $67,000 due to various house projects - a/c & solar), so are trying to be more realistic in 2019, as we have other house projects to complete. 
  • Summer camps, from $1000/year to $5,000/year. Last year, I assumed I wouldn't be working over the summer, which turned out to be incorrect. We actually spent just under $8,000, so this is a reduction in actual spending from 2018. We're hoping the boys will need fewer camps in 2019. 

Budget categories that are decreasing:

  • Childcare, from $800/month to $416/month. With the boys both playing school sports for a few months of the year, we don't need as much childcare. They simply ride their bikes home after practice is over, no driving required. I need to figure out our longer term nanny plan, as I've mostly been paying for days we don't need her service. Instead, I think a friend will use the nanny for the days we don't need (assuming all are okay with this plan) & then I'll just pay for the days we use, but the nanny will still be making approximately the same amount. Otherwise, we may need to move to more of an ad hoc model. The problem with that is that when I travel (I have three weeks of travel in Q1), M has a much less flexible afternoon schedule than I do, so things kind of fall apart. I also haven't locked a date for my sabbatical, but won't need help during that time period. So, long story short, I expect to spend less on childcare in 2019, and we are hoping to slowly move this to zero in 2020, as the boys will be old enough to be home alone & I should be working hours or a job with enough flexibility that I can cover the rest. 
  • Dining out, from $120/month to $100/month. We're okay with planned/intentional meals out for enjoyment or entertainment, but are trying not to eat out due to a lack of planning, laziness, or general lack of willpower. 
  • Utilities, from $450 to $340/month. We will be approaching our one year with solar, so should be able to have a consistently lower monthly utilities budget. Note that this covers two houses, although our expenses at our vacation house are pretty reasonable. 
  • Boys, from $6000/year to $5500/year. One of our kids is going to stop playing club soccer. While we expect him to pick up other activities, we don't expect them to be quite as expensive. 
  • Vacation house mortgage, from $1500/month to $0/month. Because it's paid off! Woohoo! To be clear, we will actually apply this $1500/month to our primary residence mortgage, but I consider that an optional payment (we can cancel at any time, if we need to), whereas the vacation house mortgage was not optional. 
  • Clothing, $900/year to $750/year. My goal is to keep my own clothing spending to $250, leaving $500 for the kids & M. I think this is realistic, but will depend on how much everyone grows, and at what rate, if Sam plays another sports & needs gear, etc. 

Budget categories that are staying the same:

  • Toiletries, at $20/month
  • Gas, at $75/month
  • Groceries, at $625/month
  • Personal, at $500/year
  • Auto, at $1000/year. We're hoping to sell our third car, which would drastically reduce our carrying costs. But, our alternative car is a 1999, so may not have much life left. We're modeling out all of the options to see what makes the most sense. 
  • Out of pocket charity, at $1000/year. We are planning to increase our automatic paycheck deductions in 2019 by 10% each, which isn't accounted for here. These come out before we get paid, and we treat them like health insurance, taxes, 401k, etc & don't account for it in our after tax budget. Our company is increasing the yearly max, so we'd like to increase our donations at the same pace. 
  • Christmas, at $750/year
  • Health, at $500/year.
  • Gifts, at $750/year. 
All told, we're hoping to shave off of $2500 from our monthly expenses ($1500 coming from the vacation mortgage) & the other $12,000/year coming from a random assortment of other cuts. It will be very tight, but we'd like to free up this $2,500/month to apply to our primary residence. We are working on an incredibly aggressive goal of paying off our primary mortgage by the time our youngest is out of high school (around seven more years). I'll share our 3, 5 & 7 year plans in the upcoming months. It's actually one of my 2019 goals to finalize these plans! :-) 

What about you? What changes are you making to your budget for 2019? 


  1. Just a thought but could you sell 2 of the vehicles(oldest) and get slightly newer one (5 yrs or less) as your second vehicle? Then out of pocket would be minimized and you would still reduce carrying costs there. That or might be worth paying for mechanical inspection on your 99 vehicle to see what kind of shape it's still in mechanically

    1. Our other car is an electric vehicle that is a lease, so we'll be sticking with that through the lease length. The 1999 car is a Lexus SUV, so perfect for hauling kids, bikes & skis around. We'd be selling our nice SUV, which we bought to replace the 1999 SUV. We bought it, but then. . . it's so nice I don't like to drive it. And, we got an electric car & I LOVE driving that. We use the 7 person seating pretty regularly (soccer carpools) & the bike rack on the back is used multiple times/week. So, anyway, we will likely just sell the nicer SUV, and hope that the older SUV lasts a bit longer. We can pay cash for something nice but not new when the time comes.

  2. I love seeing how others adjust their budgets. Life and monetary needs change all the time. Hopefully everything will go as planned or at least very close to plans. The nanny care for tweens gets a little difficult because they are on the go so much that the care needs decrease, but can't be stopped altogether. Listening to my guys talk now about their childhoods, I realize I was most effective as a "caregiver" when they were older teens. All 3 claim that because I was around so much they did not make some of the dumber decisions they would have made had I not been so present.

    1. Your last point about your kids childhood & reflections as they were teens/tweens is exactly why I'm trying to move to a modified work schedule. I didn't stay home for the past 13 years, but feel like my time would be well spent to be home in the afternoons now.

  3. Great budget I am going to try and see how the one I will set up goes.

    1. You can do it! At least for me, mine is never quite right on the initial try. It takes months, years, and then every year we tweak based on seasons of life & changes.

  4. Whew, I'm looking at kindergarten in a couple of years and wondering what we're going to do for after school care: adjust my hours / schedule, or save that adjustment for the early teen years. I'm still working out the kinks in our planned budget, I'll publish it later this month once I iron out the big flaws.

    It'll likely have to get tweaked later in the year, at least once but that's normal.