It’s that time of the month! Monthly budget time! April was a doozy, but May should be a lot better. Let’s take a look at what went down.
Looking Back: April Monthly Budget
April ended up being a rough month to try to stick to my monthly budget, because I had a number of things come up that I wasn’t expecting. Also, I had a couple of lump sum payments that I made.
The April Budget Bad
- Pets: Both of our pets ended up going to the vet during April. Both pets also required more flea and heartworm medication. And let me tell you – that stuff is expensive! It’s about $15 per month per pet. Between the two of them, we spent over $700 at the vet and on their flea stuff! I have been setting aside $30 each month for my half of the pet expenses but that is clearly not enough.
- Rock Climbing: My 3-month rock climbing membership ended in April and I decided to renew. I could have signed up for 12 months for $650 (saving $130) or for 6 months for $375 (saving $75). I opted for the 12 months to save the most, and because I have a health subsidy through work that is going to expire at the end of the month. I’ll get 50% of the cost of the membership reimbursed in an upcoming paycheck. It was a huge upfront cost, but it boils down to $55 per month before the subsidy. With my subsidy, rock climbing is only $27 per month.
- Weird One-offs: This month I had a lot of one-off expenses. I purchased a Groupon for a haircut, style and keratin treatment, we purchased tickets to see Book of Mormon in August, and my 6-month car insurance bill came due.
The April Budget Good
- Groceries: We constantly struggle with grocery expenses, but this month we actually stayed mostly within budget! I upped the budget to $400 (for my portion) to account for the fact that we were hosting a shindig for Richard’s birthday and we came in at $405 for the month each!
- Restaurants: I enveloped my Chapel Hill eating into my regular restaurant budget. I finished the month spending $220 out of $200. I went over a little, but feel like this was a pretty big accomplishment for me.
My April Monthly Budget
Now that I know how April went, I can look ahead to May and hopefully improve. The exciting part about May is that it is a 3 paycheck month for me! I generally budget assuming that I get two paychecks, but this month I get three!
Rent: $1075 (my portion of rent – not split exactly 50/50 but almost 50/50)
Utilities & Non-Discretionary
- Gas (my portion): $25
- Electric (my portion): $40
- Internet (my portion): $28
- Cell Phone: $73
- Dentist: $350 (wisdom teeth removal and fillings)
- Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: $162 (3 paycheck month)
Car & Transport
I never got around to taking my bike to the shop last month, because it was another added expense. I will do that this month and hopefully start biking to work a few times a week to help reduce Metro costs.
- Car Insurance (rolls over monthly): $66 (plus $0 from rollover)
- Fuel (my portion – rolls over monthly): $20 (plus $35 from rollover)
- Metro: $80
- Bike Tune-up: $150
I’m reducing my grocery budget since we don’t have a shindig coming up, but only moving it down to $350, to see if that is more realistic.
- Groceries (my portion): $350
- Restaurants (my portion): $200
- Work Lunch: $40
Each month, I pay a total of $775 to minimum loan payments. Not that I’m counting or anything, but this expense is second only to rent in my monthly budget.
- Student Loans Minimum: $565
- Car Loan: $215
Shopping & Miscellaneous
Pets, clothes and home supplies all come up at infrequent intervals, so I set aside an amount each month to contribute and if I don’t spend it, it rolls over to the next month. Everything else is everything that doesn’t fit into a neat budget. I’ve increased my everything else budget to account for some one-off expenses.
- Pets (my portion – rolls over monthly): $60 (plus $0 from rollover)
- Clothes (rolls over monthly): $100 (plus $108 from rollover)
- Home Supplies (my portion – rolls over monthly): $20 (plus $11 from rollover)
- Everything else: $350
Total Expenses: $3,969 (minus savings and extra student loans)
And don’t forget…
Savings & Extra Student Loan Payments: I generally contribute 25% of take home pay. However, this month I’m contributing the amount I generally contribute plus nearly all of my third paycheck. All of the money that goes to savings and extra student loans is split up in a 30:70 ratio with 30% going to savings and 70% going to student loans.
Retirement Contributions: I contribute 6% to my employer-sponsored 401(k) each pay period.
Notes About My Monthly Budget
“My Portion”: You’ll notice that there are a few “my portion” indicators next to my monthly budget line items. This means that it’s an expense that Richard and I split. For 99% of the things we split, we split right down the middle.
Rolls Over Monthly: This year, I’ve been trying to become more purposeful in how I budget and allocate my money. In some categories, my expenses are sporadic. Two examples of this are pets and clothing. We are proud parents to two senior pets – as a result, we’ve decided to set aside some money every month to cover those inevitable vet costs. For clothing, I prefer to do big shopping trips a few times a year rather than shopping in smaller spurts more frequently. By rolling over my budget each month, I make sure I’m accounting for the inevitable expense.
I have my fingers crossed that May will not be nearly as expensive as April was. I’m pretty confident it won’t be, but I know of a couple of expenses that are coming up:
- Dentist: I went to the dentist last month and left my appointment needing to get a number of fillings and 2 wisdom teeth removed. I’ve been using some leftover HSA money to cover the costs, so I haven’t been including it in my monthly budget. However, I’m about to run out of that, so my out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses will need to move into my monthly budget.
- Visiting Friends: We have some friends visiting next week. We’ll go out and do stuff with them for a few days, so that might add up. It should be manageable within the existing budget though.
How did you do sticking to your budget in April? What does May look like?