January Budget Review

Oh January, how I don’t miss you! I am looking forward to warmer weather way too much. January was a bit of a weird month, mostly because as I opened up our accounts to review our spending, I realized there weren’t as many transactions as there usually are.

This may have been due to the fact that we used gift cards twice to dine out, and also because we used cash for another restaurant venture. Normally R doesn’t have cash on him, so when he discovered that he did, we split the check instead.

February is a short month, so I am hoping we can keep a lot of expenses down. I am utilizing a new budget template courtesy of Cait at Blonde On A Budget. I’ve always liked how clean and simple it is, and I just felt like changing it up!

January Spending

january budget reviewI decided I need to start putting more toward my student loans, whether I like parting with the money or not. I really do admire those of you out there who throw every extra penny at their debt. I just can’t bring myself to do it! However, this really needs to change if I want to pay them off any time soon. I like saving my money a bit too much, but it’s not going to do me any good just sitting there waiting for an emergency. To clarify – I have a lot saved in my EF, more than I need while renting, but it gives me peace of mind.

I included my automated savings on here for the first time. On my other spreadsheet, savings goals weren’t on there simply because I wasn’t too concerned with it. I managed to save up the bulk of my EF while living with my parents, and I don’t really need to contribute any more funds to it. I still automatically transfer $20 a week to my savings account though.

I had mentioned during one of my first budget reviews that I pay $500 toward rent every other month. This is because I laid out most of the money for our deposit on the apartment back in June. It’s R’s way of paying me back, and I typically use the opportunity to put extra toward my student loans.

My cell phone bill is super high this month for an annoying reason. I had told you all in December that my one-time expense category was really high for a good reason. Well, I went ahead and canceled my Verizon service to switch to Republic Wireless. Unfortunately, Verizon still billed me for the entire amount I usually pay, even though I had switched and called them prior to the end of the cycle. I’m supposed to get a credit (I’m guessing this month), but it still irks me as I lost access to my online account when I ported my number, and they just went through with the auto payment. I’ll definitely be calling them on this.

Otherwise, everything is pretty normal. I’m still getting away with only filling up on gas once a month. My grocery spending might be low – just wait until you see R’s.

R’s Spending

january budget reviewSo as you can see, R had the bulk of our grocery shopping expense this month. He makes more than I do, and we kind of switch on and off with buying. I think we also used a gift card that my mom gave us for Christmas last month, but I could be wrong. In any case, I wasn’t really happy with this number, but it’s not extremely bad.

Why? Well first of all, a lot of places were having decent sales on meat, so we kind of stocked up. One purchase was mostly just that – they had a special going on that if you purchased 5 labeled things, it was $20, which wasn’t bad in my opinion. I don’t think we’ll be doing it again, simply because it was difficult to find things we actually wanted, but that may have been due to the fact that it was really busy in the store, and we went later in the day.

Secondly, one of my “goals” this year is to eat healthier, so we have been experimenting with different recipes and produce. For example, I’ve found that spaghetti squash is awesome, and for $0.89/lb, I’ll take it! I don’t know why, but I’m completely fascinated by the fact that it’s so stringy on the inside. I actually enjoy making it. We really have to watch food waste now that we’re buying more perishables though. What are some of your favorite veggies to cook with?

Otherwise, R also had a pretty normal month. For once, I didn’t see any fast food transactions from him! He also lucks out once in a while as his manager will buy lunch when they work on Saturday. I really want to work on making things ahead so we don’t have any excuses. So far it’s just been a learning curve as I need to adapt to making new things that I’ve never cooked before.

Hopefully all our grocery shopping in January will pay off this month, and it will be much lower, even with the 28 days taken into consideration. We should have meals for another week and a half. Normally I don’t do the whole “buy in bulk when on sale,” mostly because we don’t have the freezer room for it, but with less packaged food in there, we were able to fit things in. I like not having to worry about making another grocery trip soon.

How was your January budget? Do you like to buy in bulk when there’s a good sale? What items do you purchase in bulk? 

 

About Erin M.

Erin is a freelance blogger & virtual assistant who enjoys talking about frugality, debt, and saving for the future. While she's passionate about helping other millennials get their finances in order, she also loves reading, walking, and spending time with family (and her cats).
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36 Responses to January Budget Review

  1. Our January budget was huge because of our home remodel so I’m glad it’s all over and done with. I also hope to keep our expenses fairly low this month since it’s so short =)
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted: Embarrassing Ways to Save MoneyMy Profile

  2. I was kinda bad in January.. we had some left over, but most of it went to my husband’s car (needed new brakes). We had about $50 left over after that.. and instead of stuffing it in savings I kinda splurged and got a small surprise for my hubby for Valentine’s Day. I was like “bad personal finance blogger with a focus on frugality, bad!” Haha! I think the occasional splurge is okay from time to time.. but if there’s a surplus in our budget for February I’ll have to be sure to behave and save it, not spend it!
    Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial recently posted: It’s February: Did Your Resolutions Survive the First Month?My Profile

    • E.M. says:

      I hate car expenses. Just yesterday, R noticed a little part for his windshield wiper hose was missing, so now there’s just a hole there and the fluid can’t reach the windshield. He’s getting really sick of his car expenses, so I know how you feel.

      Aw, that’s cute though! Splurges can be worth it, especially when they are for someone else, and a surprise.

  3. jefferson says:

    It looks like you were right on target for your budget for nearly every category.. That is amazing..

    Our January was a bit of a rollback, after crazy December. We kept things lean and mean, and are now back on track for the rest of the year.
    jefferson recently posted: How to Make Money With a BlogMy Profile

    • E.M. says:

      That’s a good way to start the year off! Our December was a little crazy too. I’m looking forward to our spending ‘normalizing’ after six months of living together now. It took a little getting used to.

  4. We were ok in January. Believe it or not, going on vacation helped. But we budget a bit more for going out to eat and our entertainment. I’m always impressed to see someone spend less than $100 a month!
    Michelle @fitisthenewpoor recently posted: Frugal Old Fashioned Date IdeasMy Profile

    • E.M. says:

      I’m really not a foodie, so going out to eat is only appealing when I’m specifically craving something or really too tired to cook. That, and I get full rather easily, so I only order one thing and water =).

  5. Ashley says:

    You switched to RW?! Did I miss this in another post?! I can’t wait to hear how you like it!!! I’m still enjoying it- I think we need another router though, because ours is terrible, and I’m sure that doesn’t help the call quality…

    My january spending was pretty good. The reality of having no income (unless I create it) has now set in so I’m getting REALLY good at not spending money unless I 100% need an item.. haha
    Ashley recently posted: Cats, Hockey, and BBQMy Profile

    • E.M. says:

      You didn’t miss it, I just wanted to take some time to test it out before I made a post on it. Being in a basement apartment, all the internet stuff is in the actual house, so my call quality isn’t great either. Thankfully I don’t make many calls!

      I guess that’s a good way to kick start frugality!

  6. Yay for staying under budget this month! Food can be such a budget buster. It’s something J and I are constantly working on.
    Girl Meets Debt recently posted: 5 Best Tips for New BloggersMy Profile

    • E.M. says:

      It really is our number one issue, especially since R eats a ton while I only eat a little. I was used to having leftovers when I still lived with my parents, but now R eats most of everything I make!

  7. January was great for me and my spending finally settled down after the holidays.

    It’s difficult for me to buy in bulk because I don’t really have the space for it but if I could, I would!

    • E.M. says:

      It is difficult when you’re just living in a small apartment! We only have one tiny storage closet, and it gets really cold in there as it’s not insulated (we’re in the basement), so I don’t want to keep anything in there except paper goods.

  8. JRod @ CNA says:

    Hey EM, looks like you did pretty good to me. Both of you seemed to stay under budget. By the way, I love the cold…you can’t ski on rain! Anyway, thanks for the great read, I’ll see ya around.
    JRod @ CNA recently posted: Stock Markets Are Down, What We Should Learn From ItMy Profile

    • E.M. says:

      I would agree with you if skiing were cheaper =). I’ve gone a few times with friends and it was really fun, but I’d have to live closer to a mountain for that to be a reality.

  9. anna says:

    That’s lame about Verizon still billing you when you cancelled – hope that gets corrected soon! I agree about spaghetti squash, it feels lighter than using pasta, plus I don’t feel as bloated (B does get hungrier sooner, though). We’re big on roasting or grilling veggies, from zucchini to eggplant to brussel sprouts. They taste really great when slightly charred. :)
    anna recently posted: Wedding Stuff and the Half-Marathon Awaits!My Profile

    • E.M. says:

      Really? I read that spaghetti squash is supposed to be more filling, and R actually said he felt it was. Pasta tends to make me bloat as well :/. I need to try grilling them! My mom always just boiled them, which is pretty boring and bland, so that’s also probably why I wasn’t ever a huge fan of them.

  10. I’m always so interested to see how the service is on the low-price cell phone plans. I wish there were more options in Canada! Sucks about the auto payment, but hopefully it gets all straightened out quickly with verizon.

    Awesome job on staying under budget!
    Alicia @ Financial Diffraction recently posted: Financial Update – January 2014My Profile

    • E.M. says:

      Thanks! I’ve sadly been putting off calling them just because it’s always such a pain. I plan on doing a review on Republic Wireless soon. Honestly, the only reason I finally tried it was because a co-worker did, and claimed he had decent service. Otherwise, I wasn’t sure if it was worth it.

  11. SarahN says:

    The way I save from buying lunch is ALWAYS making a double serve of dinner. Recipes often tell you how many it should serve, and I make sure I communicate that to the BF that he can eat all or some of what’s left. He respects that (which I appreciate). I’m not a fan of sandwiches, mainly cause I try to limit gluten.

    My spending in Jan was high – a new heart rate monitor (well it’s a gift I’ll be reimbursed for), but just lots of little ‘things’ needed/wanted to be bought. Nothing fun, more around the house sorts of stuff. I really do need to think hard about the next month and hopefully reign in the spending a little, but at least I’m meeting most of my targets for savings.
    SarahN recently posted: February Challenge: Water GuzzleMy Profile

    • E.M. says:

      I haven’t been eating sandwiches lately either. This is ideally how I would *like* to generate leftovers, but R just has a big appetite! He can eat an entire package of chicken by himself.

      As long as you’re on track with saving, spending here and there probably won’t hurt too much, especially if it’s on things you needed. A heart rate monitor sounds like a good investment.

  12. I’m still so impressed with your grocery budget! Mine is like double that for just me! I’m both bad with sales AND bulk, and meal planning. I’m such a eat as you go eater because I’m picky about what I want from day to day and then don’t want things to go to waste. Awesome job this month!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted: January Recap/February Goals!My Profile

    • E.M. says:

      Thanks! I tend to be the same way. I’ll take something out to defrost for dinner, and then I won’t want it anymore by the time dinner rolls around. How can you really know what you’ll be craving in 9 hours?

  13. We’re not much for buying in bulk. We have a pretty tiny kitchen and little storage space elsewhere in the house. The one that kills me the most is the freezer space – I can’t wait until we can get a chest freezer!
    Emily @ evolvingPF recently posted: What Would You Do If Money Were No Object?My Profile

    • E.M. says:

      Yes, same here! My mom had a little freezer, but it was still really useful. Our freezer didn’t come with a divider rack either, so everything is kind of piled on top of each other. It’s hard to organize things in there.

  14. David says:

    Possibly the most accurate budget prediction I have ever seen online.
    Keep up the good work!
    Remember, once you are debt free it is an amazing feeling.
    David recently posted: 2014 Investor AlmanacMy Profile

  15. That’s a clean format for your budget. I love how you utilize a few big categories…mine seems preposterously clunky in comparison.

    I’m a big fan of spaghetti squash, too, but the way I make it, with brown sugar and butter, it can hardly be called a vegetable any more. ;)
    Done by Forty recently posted: February Budget PornMy Profile

    • E.M. says:

      Well, I think breaking it down can be useful, especially when you have a lot more expenses and bills. I don’t have to pay for utilities right now, which simplifies things.

      Haha! I don’t know, I have a weird time putting brown sugar on vegetables, even carrots and sweet potatoes. It just tastes weird to me!

  16. I’m impressed with how close to your actual spend your budget is (did that sentence make sense?). Only off by $12 in total! Our student loans are pretty high so I don’t foresee putting anything additional towards ours for now, but maybe once we have a large emergency fund, savings for new cars, etc.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted: My New Addiction to Using Cold, Hard CashMy Profile

    • E.M. says:

      I try! It helps that our only “abnormal” expense is really groceries. Otherwise I haven’t been buying anything unless absolutely needed. I can definitely see how saving for a new car is more important for you guys right now! It’s something I keep telling R to do as well.

  17. Great job on staying within your budget!

    January was okay for me, it’s just my penchant for snacks before and after work! We are trying to make sure if we know we are getting home late there are leftovers from the day before.
    Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life recently posted: Oh Those Expenses….January 2014My Profile

    • E.M. says:

      I am such a snacker, it’s bad! I get home around 4:40, and R usually doesn’t get home until 6:30. It can be tough waiting for him, but I’d feel wrong making dinner and eating without him. Last night, before we knew it, it was 7:30 and we hadn’t started cooking!

  18. You did great this month, E.M., and I think you’re doing well on groceries too. Even at $272, that’s a lot lower than many 2-person families. I also think it’s really smart that you’re socking a bit into your e-fund each week even though you don’t need to. That extra cash might be able to be used for something fun some day, and it gives you that added bit of security. Great work. :-)
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted: What Do You REALLY Want?My Profile

    • E.M. says:

      I would ultimately love to put some savings toward travel, I just feel guilty doing so when I have my student loans. I’m hoping for a small weekend getaway in the next few months that’s less than $200.

      $272 might not be horrendous, but compared to your budget for six people it looks like there’s room for improvement =).

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