Here are the changes we're making in 2020:
- Childcare. The cost of childcare will be dropping pretty dramatically. Our nanny has accepted another job starting in January, as our schedule was too erratic & unpredictable. The kids no longer need a nanny, just someone to help them get to & from activities. Moving forward, both kids will have soccer practice at a later time slot, so we should be able to drive with carpools. Their school sports still often have early games, so we'll need to plan for that. I can typically work this out with my schedule, so that just leaves weeks when I'm traveling. Net/net, we're expecting our monthly childcare to drop by $340/month. We did leave a small cushion in for times when we need help & can find an ad hoc person to help out. Savings for the year = $4080
- Gym. We haven't belonged to a gym since we moved from Seattle. I do have access to a gym at work, but it's not convenient on weekends, holidays & the class schedule is incredibly limited. The kids would also like to have access to a gym, so we found a good deal at the local YMCA. We actually will save the cost of two months of membership, given the YMCA operates one of the summer camps the boys attend. Increase for the year = $1260
- Auto. Our electric car lease will end in October. We ended up with a lease because we weren't sure if there would be major strides in the battery life technology, and how we would enjoy driving an electric car. We love the electric car, and plan to buy a used one when our lease expires. Increase for the year = $30,000 - an estimate for now.
For the most part, the remaining budget categories all remain similar. We are doing our best to hold to our current grocery budget, but there are weeks when feeding two teenage boys gets very expensive! :-) We switched to a Costco rewards visa, and will be getting a sizable reward at the end of the year. We will funnel that money back into the grocery budget, in order to help stretch things further.
What didn't work this year, financially? Well, I pre-bought discounted gift cards, which worked really well for the most part - when I was about to make a purchase. For example, right before we bought a piece of furniture, or a flight, or embarked on a large house projects. We were able to shave between 2-6% off of the purchase in almost real time. What is harder is pre-buying gift cards for some future state of savings. I am finding them too difficult to track, and the money could be put to better uses if we don't need the gift card in the immediate term. Moving forward, I'll be pulling back on this spending, because I want to ensure we're getting the max value out of any expense we're pre paying.
What about you? Any budget changes? Anything that's working particularly well (or, not) for you? Have you decided on changes for 2020?