Lousy!

Despite having hit a major goal for us this month, we have had a lousy month overall for our financials.

I’m really glad that we were able to send $700 over our monthly minimums to our student loans, but overall, we spent WAY too much and I feel like we just got hammered with expenses this month!

This is the first time since January 2014 that we will end up with a negative net income for the month. That’s 17 months that we’ve had a positive net income. And now we’re breaking our streak. There is absolutely NO WAY (unless someone wants to write us a check for $500) that we will come out ahead this month.

In order to feel positive about our financials, I look at two things. One is our debt decrease, and the other is our monthly net income. No explanation required on the first one (I mean, debt going down is obviously a good thing). I do know, though, that in the PF blogger world, very few people seem to discuss monthly net income as a way of tracking success.

It’s important to me because, for so long, we had no idea what our monthly net income was. In fact, if we had known, we might have realized that it was negative net income and that it was unsustainable. Thank goodness we did get it figured out, and we’ve made some drastic lifestyle changes in order to focus on increasing our net income.

Some folks concentrate on their overall net income growth – that’s fine – I do like to see ours go up. But it moves up relatively slowly. The quickest way to see that we’re moving in the right direction with our money is for me to see that we’re taking in more than we spend.

I should note that we do not count debt payments as “spending” – using Mint.com, I classify them as “transfers,” which is exactly what they are, to me.

Normally, I would have done a monthly check-in blog post this month, but it has been wild (both financially and life-ally, which, of course, go hand in hand). This is the closest I’m going to get.

Here are the out-of-the-ordinary expenditures we’ve had this month:

  • Item for H’s business: We sold something that H needs for his business and replaced it with another one. The new one cost more, of course, than what we got for the old one, and we paid about $1000 for it, in total. (He was very happy to have made the purchase in a savvy way, though – he did lots of research and found what he needed for about $3,000 less than it would have been normally.) Cost: $1000
  • Round-Trip Train tickets in France: We pre-purchased these, as we will need them when we get off the plane in France to get to the city where we are staying. Cost: $423
  • Registration for Conference in France: We bought H’s registration and a day pass for me. (There will probably be more expenses if I wish to attend any other sessions as a layperson.) Cost: $225
  • Dental for L: We had a problem with my dental insurance which was finally worked out after a month, and we had to pay for the remainder of what insurance wouldn’t pay for L’s last visit as well as her 6 month check-up yesterday. (This money comes out of our sinking fund for healthcare, but it is obviously still spending.) Cost: $238
  • Sam’s Club Renewal: We put this off as long as we could, and then we were standing there in line when they told us it had expired. Ha! Had to pay it right then. Cost: $45
  • Picture Framed: My grandma passed away last month and my father brought me home a picture from her house that I had always loved. It had never been framed or matted – but it’s a large image of my grandmother’s four aunts when they were teenagers. I love it! I went to Michael’s and had a 70% off custom framing coupon, and it still cost me an arm and a leg. Hopefully it will be ready for us to pick up soon. Cost: $198
  • Slush Spending: Holy moly, did we spend a lot on random stuff this month. We took my parents to the new outlets in Small City, and I found two short-sleeved shirts that are work-appropriate, and H found pants on sale to replace the ones he’s been wearing (the ones with holes), and two pairs of shorts. I bought perfume on Zulily. I bought shoes on Zulily (Cost: $324

That’s $2,453 in crazy spending! 

Some of that spending falls in our budget: slush spending and Sam’s club renewal (that came out of our grocery spending). Some of it was from our Sinking Fund: all travel & business related items, and the dental care.

In fact, we’re still (barely) within our budget for the month (I altered our slush spending budget to be higher and lowered our other budgets to account for it, thereby leaving the overall budget of $5000 untouched). I don’t know if we’ll be able to stretch that out for a few more days until the end of the month or not, but… I’m okay with this at the moment.

Plus, funds for all of the expenses for H’s Business & Travel were already saved – we were able to pay off everything we put on the credit card.

All in all, I’m not sorry for spending the money we did, I just wish it had been evened out over the course of a few months – because it makes June look SO bad. July may look much the same, as we will be spending as we travel in France. However, we will be able to cut back on our grocery bill and hopefully our utilities budget while we’re away from home.

Well, there you have it – the reasons we will have a negative net income this month, breaking our 17-month streak. Ugh.

I’ll give you all the dirty details about the rest of our budget in my month-end wrap-up post, coming up in about a week.

Happy weekend!

In Which I Gripe About the Elusive “Normal Month”

So, where is this “normal month” that I keep thinking is around the corner?

“Well, last month was not normal because we moved.”

“Well, this month is not normal because we have all of these unexpected car issues to resolve.”

“Next month won’t be normal because we’ll be traveling to visit relatives for Thanksgiving and we’ll have extra food costs because of the holiday. Plus, starting to buy Christmas presents!”

“December won’t be normal because… yeah, Christmas.”

Seriously? A quarter of the year will go by and I will still think of it as “abnormal.” WHY do I do that? And that completely leaves out the fact that I always think of the summer months as abnormal because we tend to travel, and in the past H and I would both be at home with L all day (because… no work!).

I am starting to realize that there IS no normal month. There is no month that I can say, “Wow, nothing weird or unexpected came up. Cool!”

That means that our budget has to be the kind of budget than can absorb these blows. Prepare for the unexpected and all of that.

In December of 2013, we decided we would start a Sinking Fund, and that did totally help – we now save for expenses that we can predict WILL happen (just not always WHEN they will happen). Our sinking fund covers car repairs, gifts, L’s extra costs (school supplies, field trip costs, etc.), H’s business expenses, health care costs, car insurance, and we’ll soon be adding a clothing sinking fund as well.

Unfortunately, things still come up that are outside the categories, or – worse – the costs exceed the amount we have in the fund. We do have an emergency fund (there’s $500 in it right now – we’re working on beefing it up!), and I’m not above pulling from other categories, as long as they get paid back as soon as possible.

Honestly, this kind of problem doesn’t come up that much… mostly because I took the average of the previous year’s expenses in those categories and divided by 12 to come up with the amount to set aside each month.

However, when it does come up, it’s a whammy! And it’s usually car repairs.

Which is what it is this month.

It’s just so frustrating to feel like we just can’t get ahead with some of our goals. It’s great to be saving the way we’ve been able to these past months, but my main goal right now is to LIVE WITHIN OUR BUDGET.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

</rant>

Thanks for letting me blow off some steam, PF friends. 🙂 Anyone else have a way they deal with these “Abnormal Months”? I think it’s a mental thing – any advice?

Discouragements

The reason I’ve been missing in action: March has not been kind to us!

We’ve had expected expenses come up (but they’ve been more expensive than we were expecting) and a few unexpected expenses, as well. Some of the expenses I have been able to cover with our Savings / Sinking Debt fund (as they were planned and accounted for), but some of the expenses will have to sit on our credit card until we get paid so that I am sure I can cover the expenses from our checking account.

We’ll need to decide whether it’s worth it to transfer more money from our shares account (the sinking fund account, that is) to avoid credit card fees (and I just hate having a balance on any of our credit cards!) or if we should not touch the money in that account because it’s all earmarked for other things….

Any advice for us?

I will be glad to see the backside of this month!

– M.