Our Monthly Budget: February 2015

Our Monthly Budget: February

Phew… January is over! Things were getting a little bit hairy in some of our budget categories toward the end, so it’s nice to feel like we have money to spend again! Also, this frigid NYC weather is getting old (and kind of depressing), so I’m kind of hoping February flies by, too. Although, every week that goes by also brings us closer to being parents to TWO kids, which makes me want to freeze time completely. But back to January! We wanted to recap how we did this month so anyone else who’s trying to keep a budget this year knows we’re right there with ya. So here’s how our January budget shaped up…

January 2015 Budget Recap

Rent:  $$$$*

Utilities:  $395

  • Electricity:  $80 (actual: $35)
  • Gas/Heating:  $80 (actual: $26)
  • Cell Phones:  $90
  • Internet:  $45

Food:  $500

  • Groceries:  $325 (actual: $400)
  • Eating Out:  $175 (actual: $132)

Non-Discrectionary: $346

  • Transportation: $200 (actual: $112)
  • Life Insurance: $66
  • Aflac: $80
  • Health Insurance Premium: TBD
Personal & Clothing:  $120 (rolls over monthly)

  • Johnny:  $60 (actual: $0)
  • Joanna:  $60 (actual: $56)

Everything Else:  $305 (actual: $304)

  • Pet Supplies
  • Baby Supplies
  • Dry Cleaning
  • Home/Personal Care
  • Entertainment
  • Medical
  • Miscellaneous

Gifts: $145 (rolls over monthly) (actual: $18)

Vacations: $200 (rolls over monthly) (actual: $0)

Total Expenses (minus rent):  $2,011 (actual: $1,364)

Church/Charitable Donations:  10% of gross income
Savings: at least 25% of net income, but planning on enough side income to have saved 50% at the end of the year

End-of-Month Thoughts

  • January was a success overall — but our grocery spending! NYC grocery spending is tough stuff. Thanks to Johnny’s $1 pizza slice/lunches, we went under on our eating out, but our Food category total for the month was still over by $32. I’m still figuring out where I can get the best deals on what, so I’m going to switch things up a bit this month to see if I can keep from going over. Wish me luck!
  • In other news, our Electric, Gas, and Transportation were all much lower than we guesstimated, so we still stayed under our total budget. Because we didn’t spend much in our rollover categories, our budget looks even more under budget than it actually was. I’m sure we’ll spend more in those later in the year.
  • Getting our NYC insurance squared away has been a bit of a nightmare, so we still don’t know what our premium will be. We’ll have more info on it later this month!

Keeping all that in mind, here’s our February budget…

February 2015 Budget

Rent:  $$$$*

Utilities:  $215

  • Electricity:  $40
  • Gas/Heating:  $40
  • Cell Phones:  $90
  • Internet:  $45

Food:  $500

  • Groceries:  $325
  • Eating Out:  $175

Non-Discrectionary: $296

  • Transportation: $150
  • Life Insurance: $66
  • Aflac: $80
  • Health Insurance Premium: TBD
Personal & Clothing:  $120 (rolls over monthly)

  • Johnny:  $60 (currently at $120)
  • Joanna:  $60 (currently at $66)

Everything Else:  $305

  • Pet Supplies
  • Baby Supplies
  • Dry Cleaning
  • Home/Personal Care
  • Entertainment
  • Medical
  • Miscellaneous

Gifts: $145 (rolls over monthly… currently at $272)

Vacations: $200 (rolls over monthly… currently at $400)

Total Expenses (minus rent):  $1,781

Church/Charitable Donations:  10% of gross income
Savings: at least 25% of net income, but planning on enough side income to have saved 50% at the end of the year

*Living in NYC, our rent is a bit of an anomaly (major understatement) compared to our peers in the rest of the US of A. To give you an idea, it’s more than twice what we were paying in Utah. Yeahhh. But that just means the rest of our budget is that much more essential this year.

And that’s our February budget, with just a few tweaks from last month. February’s a short month, so if you’re on the fence about starting a budget, you only have to keep it 28 days.  Was your January budget a success, or would you rather not talk about it? Either way, here’s to a fresh start in February!

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  • Reply Racheal February 2, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Congrats on your January budget!

    We had some unexpected expenses come up in January (a plumbing bill, etc), but we still managed to put a good chunk of change into savings. We are also converting from a family of 3 to 4 here in a few months!

    I think you deserve some type of award for feeding a family of 3 on $325 a month. I cut our grocery budget down from $800 to $600 per month and felt like I was sacrificing! Granted, we do have heavty appetites and have people over for dinner often, but now I am motivated to trim that even more. I have grand plans to be non-mortgage debt free by July (when baby #2 gets here).


    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2015 at 12:41 am

      Those are grand plans! Very cool. And congrats on baby #2! We have a lot we want to get done before our little nugget arrives, too!

  • Reply Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank February 2, 2015 at 7:30 am

    First monthly budget recap! Yay! I will compute mine later and I feel nervous about how my January went. Congrats for the success! Keep it up Joanna and Johnny!

  • Reply Tarynkay February 2, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Thanks to laboriously keeping track of every expenditure for the first time, we did really well this month on the budget. This also really helped because I could finally explain to my husband with actual numbers about why I would rather make fancy hamburgers at home instead of going out for $12 hamburgers.

    I did have to buy new makeup after my three year old painted the toilet with mine- I just didn’t want to put it on my face after that, you know? So that was unexpected, but not so huge.

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2015 at 12:44 am

      Awesome! Isn’t it crazy how much money it saves to cook at home? I just wish it weren’t so time consuming!

      Mmm, toilet makeup… that’s a necessary splurge if there if ever was one!

  • Reply Mrs. Frugalwoods February 2, 2015 at 10:26 am

    I always find it tough to figure out where the cheapest groceries are every time we move. We’ve finally found an excellent discount grocery store here in Boston, and it’s amazing how much less expensive it is over the standard stores in town. When I lived in Brooklyn, I remember Key Foods being pretty cheap, but that was a few years ago. Good luck to you in your search :)!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2015 at 12:45 am

      Thanks! I am mostly sticking to delivery since I’m 30 weeks pregnant and have a two-year-old in tow. Luckily, there are a ton of options so I’m hoping to figure it all out this month!

  • Reply Halsy February 2, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Congratulations on your budget success! I’m so glad January is over. Our budget was a disaster! Mainly due to me falling down stairs and breaking tailbone. Then needing a kidney procedure done. Sadly I need another done this month. Not sure how much surgeries will cost but the emergency room trip set us back about $400. I don’t even know how we went over in the grocery/eating out category (only $21 over)because we had 6 wonderful women from my moms group bring us meals in January. I guess it’s because my husband did all the grocery shopping in January and he never does the grocery shopping. Hoping we are able to stay on top of the grocery budget better this month. We did go way under in the transportation category though so that’s a plus!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2015 at 12:48 am

      Oh no! That’s horrible. I’m sorry the year is off to a rough start… I hope you get all our medical stuff worked out! That’s what’s most important… when that’s all squared away, you can worry about getting back on track for the rest of the year. Good luck with everything this month!

  • Reply Miranda @ Miranda Writes Blog February 2, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    January included a vacation for us, so let’s just say that the budget was ‘off’ by a bit. Travel always throws us off our budget game. I’m still picking my jaw up off the floor with those utility prices! SO low! That’s amazing. I’m assuming you guys have the heater cranked due to all the snow. I’m so impressed.

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2015 at 12:51 am

      Vacation in January! So jealous!

      And interesting tidbit about utilities in the winter out here… because our building was built in the 1930s, our heat is all done through radiators, which is completely free! Most of NYC gets their heat that way. Our utilities will likely skyrocket in the summer, though, when we’re running multiple A/C window units. We’ll enjoy it for now, I guess!

  • Reply Zoë February 2, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    We kind of blew our budget a bit because of unexpected (ongoing) health issues for me (I feel your pain, Halsy). We do have an HSA, but had not fully funded it as we needed the money to pay other bills while I was out of work for a year. We did up our contributions for this year, so we should get that HSA money back up soon. But HSA funds don’t cover OTC meds, and I was stocking up on ibuprofren and tylenol. But it is important to get me fighting fit, so it’s worth it.

    I have also had to change up my diet on doctor’s orders, so that meant multiple trips to the grocery store to pick up bland food items, on top of the weekly grocery run. But on the plus side, because I had to give up my beloved white chocolate mochas, I saved some of my blow money last month. Then there was our eldest girl’s 7th birthday party….It’s so hard to have a birthday right after Christmas, right after we wipe out the gift sinking fund. We’ll do better next year.

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2015 at 12:55 am

      Yes, very worth it to getting yourself healthy again. Having health issues going on makes everything harder. I hope you’re able to get it figured out soon. And you’re the real deal when it comes to budgeting that you see the bright side of giving up your mochas. Good luck with everything in the coming weeks/months!

  • Reply Nicole February 2, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    I am in awe of your grocery budget, even if you did go over. I went wayyyyy over our food budget last month. I need to reign it back in, especially since we are renovating our laundry room this month and have several other home-related expenses coming up!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2015 at 12:58 am

      Man, I swear food is the hardest category. I’ve been working at this for years now, and I still struggle with it. My number one tip is meal planning… it keeps me from impulse-buying groceries or takeout. Fingers crossed we can both stay on track this month. Good luck!

  • Reply kristi@runkwrun.blogspot.com February 2, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Congrats on your January budget? I just started following you and have big plans this year to get my budget under control. January started out really great. I went into my last paycheck with money to spare and then I had to change all four tires on my car and some unexpected auto withdrawals came through. So, that sucks.

    I saw how low you have for utilities. How do you get that so low? I’m in a small apartment and I’m still busting over $100. Maybe I missed a post about it or maybe you could write a post on your tips. I need all the help I can get. Thanks!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2015 at 1:02 am

      Our utilities are much lower than they were in Utah. And I think it’s mostly due to our heat being totally free, thanks to the radiators in our super old NYC apt. I think our utilities will skyrocket in the summer once we’re paying for our A/C units!

  • Reply Christy February 2, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Yay- Jan’s over! We went SO over in food, but I don’t know how we could possibly lower it with a teenaged boy. Thankfully, my husband got a bonus this month to make up the difference. Haven’t quite had the stomach to go through the thing line by line, but I have anew spreadsheet set up to do that for Feb. Short month…I can do this!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2015 at 1:04 am

      Oh man! Teenage boys have bottomless appetites, so I don’t blame ya! Here’s to starting new this month!

  • Reply Rob February 2, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    January results were good for us, better than expected actually (despite paying off previous year end holiday debts and contributing our annual contributions to our chosen charities). We were able to spend less than our retired fixed income streams brought in and so our cash savings increased modestly. But more importantly our total investments (registered, non-registered) net worth increased by over 2%, which was most welcome. So no complaints and steady as is goes, budget and investment strategy wise.

    Congratulations to you guys on a successful January. I know (from experience) that times can be challenging in making ends meet at times and so I am impressed on how you two are doing.

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2015 at 1:06 am

      That does sound like it was a very good month! That’s a great increase in net worth!

  • Reply Melanie February 3, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    My January budget was ugly by the end! Reason being…I learned how to ski & I LOVED it! So then of course I took another ski day trip to feed the addiction. AND my car maintenance predictions for what I saved turned out to be more than I anticipated…such is life!
    On the bright side, I got YNAB and am no longer writing down each expense on paper and instead doing it through the app. Excited to see how it affects everything.
    Also, being in Mass, these snow storms force me to stay inside and not spend a cent. Very good! 🙂

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2015 at 1:07 am

      Ha! Well, it sounds like it was worth every second. Luckily, skiing isn’t a year-round sport so maybe you can make up for it in the warmer months. Hope YNAB goes well! Good luck!

  • Reply Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life February 3, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Awesome job on the budget! Living in NYC on a budget is the ultimate challenge and you guys are taking it in stride.

    My January budget…Let’s say, someone didn’t really plan for a big expense. Whoops!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2015 at 1:08 am

      We’ve all been there! Here’s to starting fresh in this new month. Good luck!

  • Reply Kristina February 4, 2015 at 8:31 am

    Don’t forget that the cost for a 30-day unlimited Metro card will go up to $116.50 on March 22. 🙂

    • Reply Joanna February 8, 2015 at 9:19 pm

      Oh great. As if it weren’t expensive enough already… it’s gone up a ton since we lived out here in 2010!

  • Reply Joseph Hogue February 4, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Congrats! It’s important to have an emergency fund for unforeseen expenses too. We don’t usually eat out, because we find it’s much more healthier when we cook ourselves. 🙂 There are a few times we go over our budget, but not by much. Hopefully, we can continue keeping to our set budget per month so we can save more.

    • Reply Joanna February 8, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      Yes, we have a six-month emergency fund we’ve already funded, so we don’t include that as part of our monthly budget. And agreed on cooking ourselves… plus, it saves a lot of money, so it’s a win-win!

  • Reply Katie February 7, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    Hi Joanna! I just discovered your blog today and I’m loving what im reading so far. Keep up the great work!

    • Reply Joanna February 8, 2015 at 10:03 pm

      Thanks, Katie!

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