Although a few things unexpectedly cropped up, this month was a rousing success both in savings and goal terms. I’m going to go line by line over everything I have spent this month. Don’t worry, this list isn’t very long.
$396 – tithe. This is non-negotiable, the first thing that I do with my earnings, no matter what. I usually try to tithe at least 10%.
$100 – gift. I give this to my mom and stepdad each month to help them pay down debt. She has done so much for me over the years. It’s the least I can do.
Rent and Utilities
$300 – I am incredibly blessed in my living situation. My mom has told me many times that I do not have to pay rent because the rent from my two roommates covers the mortgage payment. I choose to pay rent though in the form of contributing to their debt repayment.
$63.46 – Verizon, cell phone bill. I have briefly looked at possible ways to lower my bill. I do not like how high this is. At the moment, it does not seem likely that I will be able to switch in the near future but I will keep looking.
$9 – pest control split three ways. I hate bugs; this is $9 well spent
$19.99 – Charter internet, split three ways. Unfortunately, Charter is the only Internet provider for my subdivision. We are stuck with the $60 monthly charge for this necessity.
$39.08 – Duke Energy, power bill split three ways. When this is my cost after the bill being split in three, I cringe. Winter and summer power bills do that to me.
$13.49 – water, split three ways. I worked really hard to lower our water bill this month by taking shorter showers, using just the amount of water I need to wash dishes and things like that.
Other Regular Monthly Expenses
$16.47 – gas for Siena, my car. I get gas each time I go out to Costco which is usually every other week. The prices are always cheaper. The first few years of my Costco membership I did not take advantage of this savings. I would have had to use my debit card. The cash back on my credit card was better than the savings per gallon. Then this past June Costco switched to Visa. My switch was a no brainer.
$115.94 – groceries. This is one of the lowest totals I have had for groceries. While I would love to keep it this low, there were a few times this month where I got into a food rut caused by not having excess around plus a lack of imagination on my part. Also, I have only one freezer meal left from my massive prep back in August before the start of the school year.
$12.71 – Netflix subscription. I am watching less TV than I used to but this subscription is used by several people in my family. I’ve thought about asking them to contribute but at $2-3 per month, it seems petty.
Regular Monthly Savings
$15.22 – car taxes. I started setting aside money each month to pay my yearly car taxes so that I would not be taken by surprise like I was the first year I had to pay for my “new” car.
$20.00 – Christmas. Since the process worked well with car taxes, I decided to start doing this for Christmas. Hopefully this year I will still be able to save in November and December 2017 unlike 2016.
$300 – At a bare minimum I devote $100 a month to each of my three savings funds: travel, house in cash and emergency.
$40 – Health Savings Account. I am currently transferring this on top of the $20 withdrawn pretax from each paycheck. At the next possible opportunity I will up my pretax contributions as well. When I first filled out the paperwork I was coming from a period of income uncertainty which played a significant factor.
$9.53 – Starz add-on Amazon Prime subscription. This is the charge that I hate the most this month. I actually generated it at the end of last month when I wanted to show a portion of a movie to my students on the last day before Winter break. It was a movie I had shown to my students back when I taught Spanish. At that time I had a DVD copy but I assumed that I had gotten rid of it along with 95% of my other teaching materials when I left teaching back in 2011. I not only found the DVD during my minimalist purge a couple weeks ago, I also discovered that what I thought was a free trial was not actually because I had already used the free trial months ago.
$82.85 – This was my total for teaching related expenses, higher than I would like. Part of that was caused at the end of the month when I found myself participating in a new rewards system for some of my kids. I liked the idea that another teacher presented but had no idea that he planned to put it into place that very week. The other portion is for the prizes for the rewards system that I’ve had in place for a while. I want to figure out a cheaper way to get their prizes. Plus, three rewards systems (the school has one too) is too many. I need to work on this or I will go nuts trying to keep it straight.
$11.14 – new journal. Since writing is a priority to me, this was a mandatory expense. It just happened to fall in this month.
$45 – Performance Therapy. Once again, this charge is related to my goals for the year and is thus mandatory, for me.
$124.01 – new running shoes. They wear out and have to be replaced.
$460.84 – It felt really good to transfer this money back to my travel savings account. I have categorized it as savings since it is going back into the savings account. Technically though, I am paying myself back for the money I “borrowed” from my account to cover expenses that cropped up (like needing to buy a new laptop) during the time I had no income.
$183.42 – I had hoped to be able to contribute more to my travel fund but what I was able to save brought my monthly savings rate to 40.91%. Definitely a success.
After breaking everything down, what did I learn from this month? DO I consider it a success? Short answer to the latter? Yes!
The biggest takeaway, one that I did not expect, was the realization that I am incredibly blessed. God has given me so much. Intentionality causes one to slow down and savor, to be thankful for everything that I do have. That to me is more valuable than any dollar amount saved.