Expense Tracking

Buy Nothing Challenge Update & Jan 2018 Expenses

[ Day 81 of 2000 ]

Buy Nothing Challenge Update

My first update on how the Buy Nothing Challenge has been going! I have decided not to buy anything for a whole year.

It was hard. There have been times when I really wanted to buy something, but I have avoided temptations for the most part. I had to go to Michigan on work, and forgot to take any hats. It was cold (ok, I am used to the cold, but I usually have a hat when it is cold!) and I came really really close to buying one. If I had noticed a shop while I was busy shivering, I may have given in. But the key part is, I didn’t.

A hat wasn’t the only thing I forgot. I forgot to pack socks. This is not the first time I have forgotten to pack socks. I usually just get new ones when I do. Which is probably why I have more socks than anything else πŸ™‚ Since I had the one pair I was wearing, and I was there only for three nights, I thought I could manage. I don’t sweat much, and it was cold. However after wearing it for two days straight it felt so odd. So I washed it. And dried it by first wrapping it up in a bath towel for a while, and then leaving it alone overnight. If it hadn’t dried fine, I would have whipped out the hair dryer. But I didn’t have to.

Another expense I avoided was buying a plant. We have a huge window that is next to the dining table, and I had got into this habit of buying a small rose plant to put on that every now and then. I never took proper care of it, and it always died quickly. Since it was $5 for a new one, I normally don’t bother too much. I just get another plant the next time I go to Trader Joe’s. Not this time! I now have an empty window sill that reminds me of the days when I could buy stuff.

I normally like going to shops and looking at pretty things. That joy is now gone. I don’t normally buy a lot of things, but just knowing that I could buy if I liked something was powerful. I haven’t stepped into a shop for browsing this past few weeks.

Confession Time!

There are two things that I did spend money on –

I enrolled in an online course to make my pinterest images better. To be honest, I enrolled for this before I started this challenge. If you have noticed that my images look better, all of the credit goes to the Perfect Pin course by BreakingTheOnePercent. If you are a blogger, I definitely recommend it. I have even started using some of the tips to make my work presentations look better πŸ™‚

My second expense was signing up for Tailwind. It makes it so much easier for me to pin my content onto different boards. Turns out, no one else looks at Pinterest at 3:30 in the morning. Tailwind helps me schedule them at all unholy hours and make it look like I am pinning it when people actually see what is going on. I saved $15 by using an affiliate link. That link I have included is an affiliate link too. It will cut $15 off your price if you use that link. Again, if you are a blogger, I definitely recommend it. I finally have a few people coming here via Pinterest.

January 2018 Expenses

I made a budget this year – for the first time in my life. And I have been busy trying to not follow it. I wrote all about it here – Our expenses are over budgeted. May be I will do a better job next year.

That is not the only mistake I made. I got some of the estimates wrong, and I totally forgot about some of the categories. I wonder how many other people make mistakes like these. Luckily for me, I had an “everything else” category. So for now, whenever I add new expenses, I am deducting from that catch-all one. Here is our modified budget for this year.

Revised Budget

I have highlighted (in yellow) all the entries that I had to change from when I first made the budget.

I had forgotten completely about pest control (line 15). We live near some woods, and had some mice when we first moved in. I haven’t seen any for a while now, and may cancel that service. I can always call them again if I see more. But for now, I added in that since we are still under contract, and it costs about $500 per year.

I added a new line for blog expenses(line 23). To be honest, I hope to bring down the expenses to a zero sometime. Blogs are supposed to earn you money, not drain it. However, as of now, I have made all of $13.84 via the ads here although I can’t actually get it until I have accumulated $100. All the money I spent on getting the tailwind subscription and learning about making the perfect pins, I paid out of my pocket. I have also started writing for Blogmutt. It doesn’t really pay that much, but I have now realized that I love writing. May be it will pay enough to bring my blog expenses to zero. Anything here is what I spent on my blogs on top of what I make through any side hustles.

I reduced the “everything else” category(line 24) to fit in all these extra things I thought of after my budget/expenses post. It went from $10,000 to $7,000.

BusyDad goes to a gym near his work. And it is paid for directly before the money hits the bank. I added “gym-2” to include this amount (line 25). I also changed the Car Insurance row (line 27) to now include home insurance as well, and it is now $3000 (instead of $2000) since I had forgotten about home insurance altogether.

We never tracked the cash back we get from different credit cards, etc. So I included a row (line 29) to track that. It will be interesting to see how much this adds up to.

Is our target enough?

Our goal is to spend $40,000 a year in retirement.

Line 4 has the totals ($3709.80 for January 2018), and shows our entire expenditure. Part of this will go away in retirement. We will not have a mortgage, and will move to a less expensive place (no $9000 property tax) in a few more years. We will also not spend on a cleaning service (line 7) or childcare (line 6).

The ones marked in light red (pink?) are the ones where we spent more than what we should have. Some of that is because the payments occur once in a few months. The insurance and medical went above what I first budgeted, because I had not really looked at the payslip, and had made approximate guesses. They are here to stay.

Tracking on Mint

I also added line 3 to add up the expenses that mint sees (lines 5-24). In the previous years, this would come upto $40,000 for the whole year. I have budgeted $51,645 and hope not to hit that number. Everything from lines 25-28 comes out directly from our pays before the amount hits our bank accounts.

Our expenses this month has been pretty normal. Except for my blog expenses, everything has been typical.

The one number I would like to bring down is what we spend on food. I think that $815 for three people is a bit excessive.

What do you think about our expenses? Where do you think we are doing a good job, and where can we improve?

Here are our expense reports from other months:

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About BusyMom

Mom, Software Engineer, Dreamer - Can't wait to be less busy! . Please leave me any feedback you can think of. I am still learning and anything you can tell me about making this blog better is very much appreciated. .
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12 thoughts on “Buy Nothing Challenge Update & Jan 2018 Expenses

  1. Oh no about forgetting your hat and socks!! I would have been miserable – I hate being cold! Kudos to you for sticking it through! But, I would have made a run probably to the nearest clothing store and over-bought my need for socks for the week!

    Groceries is a tough one. Does your family like leftovers? I like mass-prepping meals at the beginning of the week, such as eating a lasagna every day for my lunch. It doesn’t go over well with my fam as they don’t share my love for hotdishes and leftovers, so, I then make another meal or two during the week.

    We also started making fruit and veggie smoothies more (my kid has no idea he’s drinking his greens). I think that helps get the good stuff in and not let it go to waste. Overall, I think you are doing well!!

    1. If only I had taken a warm enough coat, it wouldn’t have mattered so much. I was miserable whenever I was outdoors πŸ™‚

      Cooking food is not the big issue – We mostly eat home cooked food. It is the snacks that is so expensive. GBoy eats gluten, corn, dairy,… everything free food. May be I should start making more of those. And we try to eat organic. Not helping the budget.

      We don’t make too many smoothies. I will try that as well. We have no issues eating fruits and vegetables, but another way can’t hurt.

      Thanks for your tips!

  2. Good morning, I am new to your blog but wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed reading your new post today. It is very interesting.

    Wishing you the best!

  3. Looking good! Have you tried signing up for one of those CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes? It’s maybe $20 a week for an entire week’s of organic veggies/fruits. It’s usually only half the year though, because they harvest the food near where you are and NY/Boston is pretty cold.

    1. It is not the fruits and veggies. It is things like cookies and doughnuts that break my budget. We have a nice farm near by, and that is where I buy the stuff.

      We tried a CSA. But too many vegetables that we don’t normally eat πŸ™‚ I couldn’t get BusyDad and GBoy to agree to eat them.

  4. Socks are definitely worth the purchase if running low! And if a gym membership actually leads to working out it is well worth it too…so nice work all and all….as far as blog expenses, I am not counting those into my list…keep up the good work!

  5. Have you tried grocery delivery? Some people say that helps cut down on the impulse purchases. Don’t try to cut too much at once but maybe $100 as the goal for next month. Try to make sure you eat what’s in the pantry/freezer and see if you can make some snacks at home. My daughter loves homemade pudding popsicles!

    1. I don’t think it is the impulse purchases. I buy almost the same things every week. May be I should start checking what exactly is that I am buying.
      Making snacks at home doesn’t happen very often. Too lazy busy for that!

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