October 2020 Budget

October 2020 Budget

One of my favorite type of blog posts to read are other peoples monthly budget reports. I think it is so interesting to see where others are spending their money and see how I compare. It tends to motivate me to take action, whether it be by cutting our expenses more or researching different ways to increase our income.

One thing to note is that our monthly income fluctuates month to month because my husband works on commission. Therefore, you will notice that every month our budget will be slightly different. You will also notice that we do not have a line item for car payments. We used to lease two BMW’s with our minimum car payments equaling almost $1,000. Thankfully, after getting to our senses, we downsized to one car that we purchased for $13,500 cash.

Here is a look at our October 2020 monthly budget…

Savings

Our savings for the month of October was 58.7%. Our personal goal every month is to have at least a 50% or more savings rate, so I am excited we surpassed that goal for October!

Our savings (excluding our 6 month emergency fund) will be used for a down payment on a house. We currently rent a two bedroom two bath apartment, but we plan to purchase our first house when our lease is up in June of 2021.

We want to put down 20% of the house cost so we avoid private mortgage insurance. This will save us roughly a $100 a month.

We use a completely different bank for our emergency fund and savings that is separate from our daily checking account. Right now we have this in an account at Ally. We have contemplated on whether we should put this in an investment account such as Vanguard or Fidelity, but it doesn’t make sense to do that for us personally because we will be pulling the money out in six months to buy our house.

Also, we really like Ally. They have great customer service, their website is user friendly, and it only takes one business day to make transfers from our regular checking account. On the date that I posted this, their current APY (annual percentage yield) is 0.60%. When we originally signed up it was almost 2.00%. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their rates quite significantly. We are still happy with them and plan on using Ally for our emergency fund for years to come.

Rent

Our rent came to 17.8%. As mentioned earlier, we currently renters and plan on buying a house when our lease is up next year. We have been renters for seven years and to be honest, we love it.

We love the convenience of being able to call the maintenance guy whenever something is broken, instead of having to shell out our own cash to hire someone and fix it.

We love our neighbors, the apartment itself is in a great location (close to the main freeway and downtown area), my sister lives in the same building so I get to visit her anytime, but the only down side is that rent goes up every year.

I really do not like not knowing how much our biggest monthly expense is going to be year to year. Therefore, we plan on buying a house by June 2021.

The average home price where we live is over $500,000. Although we can afford a half a million dollar house by the average American standard, our goal is to reach FIRE and retire by 2028.

Internet

Our internet was 0.8% of our total budget. To be honest, I am not completely happy with our internet service. My husband and I have both started working from home since March 2020 due to the pandemic, and our internet occasionally cuts in an out.

Maybe it has to do with the unusually high number of people working from home? Not sure. Since we live in an apartment complex we are obligated to use the internet provider that is contracted with the building. As soon as we move, we are shopping for a different internet provider. Any affordable suggestions?

Cell Phones

Our cell phone budget for October was about 0.6%. The FIRE community highly recommends using Republic Wireless because you can get a plan for as cheap as $15 a month. How incredible!

I have researched them and they seem like a reputable company that provides great service. However, I am almost embarrassed to say that I am a true Apple lover. I own the iPhone, MacBook, iPad – pretty much everything Apple.

My husband loves android and has convinced me to switch to android when we first got married and I did not like it at all. My phone was incredibly slow and not user friendly. Unfortunately, Republic Wireless doesn’t provide service for Apple products, so we are currently with T-mobile. However, as soon as Republic Wireless adds iPhones to their list of compatible phones, we will be the first in line to sign up.

Gas

Our gas came to 1.1% this month. We share one car and we both currently work from home due to the pandemic, so our gas usage has significantly gone down.

I should also tell you that we own a diesel seven seater SUV. This is completely the opposite of what the FIRE community recommends you get. However, this was our personal choice. For one, my husband has terrible lower back pain and driving an SUV has significantly reduced his discomfort while driving.

Before when we had a standard five seater car, my husband wasn’t even able to drive 30 minutes without feeling some sort of pain in his back.

Although we do not have kids, we have a big extended family that we like to take on occasional road trips. I am also an avid snowboarder and love an SUV when driving through the mountains. It feels safer and I like the extra space an SUV provides. It is simply our personal preference to have an SUV versus a hybrid Prius.

On a side note, we used to drive two BMW’s where the minimum payments were $947 a month. *gasps!* I know… I know. What were we thinking? Well, we weren’t. We now have zero car payments and we throw all that extra cash straight into our savings.

Groceries

Our groceries came to about 3.6% of our total budget for October. This is honestly a bit higher than we are used to. Since restaurants and bars and closed in our area due to the pandemic, our grocery budget has gone up a bit because we are eating more of our meals at home.

We typically spend about $125 per person on groceries a month. I am pretty good at keeping our grocery budget fairly low. I did the math and we spend about $2 per meal per person. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but it tends to stay right around the $2 per meal mark.

I don’t meal plan, I don’t meal prep, and I don’t coupon clip. I used to do all that, but I do not enjoy it and it is a complete time suck for me. I have 10 simple rules I follow that helps keep our grocery cost consistently low. If you’d like to find out more, click the link below.

Related blog post: 10 Simple Ways to Keep Your Monthly Grocery Budget At $125 Per Person

Restaurants

Our restaurant line item came to about 4.1%. Before we started our financial journey, we used to easily spend over a $1,000 a month on going out to eat. Yikes!

We would go out without really even thinking. I am happy to report that we do not spend like this anymore, but we did create a small monthly budget for restaurants because we truly enjoy the experience.

I would say we eat out maybe once or twice a week now and we call it our weekly date nights. We also enjoy visiting the newest brewery, going wine tasting, and splitting nachos and beer at the local pub.

Since we both work from home, it feels nice to treat ourselves by going out to a nice dinner and get out of the apartment.

Car Insurance

You will notice that our monthly budget does not include a line item for Car Insurance. Well, that is because starting the month of October, we will be pre-paying for the full 6 months up front.

Therefore, we no longer have a monthly car insurance payment, hooray! I am happy we are able to remove this from our monthly budget item.

Before prepaying, our full coverage car insurance typically came to about 1% to 1.5% every month for those who were curious. We get a pretty good rate since we only have one car and we both have good driving records.

Life Insurance

Life insurance came to 0.7% for October. Life Insurance is crucial guys. If there are other people that depend on your income, especially if you are married or have kids, you needed to get life insurance yesterday. 

If you are fairly young and healthy, your term life insurance policy shouldn’t cost more than $100 a month.

My husband and I each have a 1 million dollar 20-year term life policy and my husbands cost $42 and mine is $26. It gives me peace of mind knowing that is something were to happen to my husband, I will be financially okay, since I depend on his income.

I found our policy on Zander. Their website is great because it lists over 20 different rates all on one page depending on your overall health and age.

Miscellaneous

Our Miscellaneous line item came to 2.4% this month. This budget item includes random expenses that are not recurring such as windshield wipers, contact lenses, and post stamps. Any little random expenses will fall into this category.

Fun Money

Last but not least, the Fun Money. This came to about 9.2% this month. I know what you are thinking, “9.2 percent!? That seems high.” Well, let me explain.

My husband is a natural spender and I am a natural saver. As a way to combat this, we have both agreed upon a monthly discretionary amount that we each get to spend.

I used to be a bit neurotic and get on him about every energy drink he bought at the gas station and every vitamin he bought at Super Supplements. Oh, bless his heart.

I personally use my fun money to grab drinks with my girl friends or to purchase the occasional clothing item, but my guilty pleasure is definitely anything skincare related.

I enjoy taking care of my skin by using high quality retinol, moisturizers, vitamin C, serums, exfoliators, and sunscreen. I also treat myself to occasional spa treatments such as hydrafacials, chemical peels, and IPL treatments.

Unfortunately, skincare products and treatments are not cheap. I try to only buy them when they’re on sale or use online discount codes. However, I do my own nails, cut my own hair, do my own lash extensions, and rarely go clothes shopping, so this is how I justify splurging.

On a side note, if you are currently in debt I recommend having a very minimal amount for Fun Money. When my husband and I were over $60,000 in debt, we did not have a budget line item for Fun Money or Restaurants.

We scrimped and put away every extra penny towards paying off our debt. After lots of patience and hard work, we successfully paid off over $60,000 within 18 months.

We agreed that once we are debt free, we will have a reasonable monthly spending amount that we could use to treat ourselves with whatever we like! 🙂

ACTION STEPS

What is the point of accumulating knowledge that will benefit you if you do not apply them? Well let me tell you… absolutely nothing! I challenge you to complete the following action items:

  • If you don’t already have a budget, start now. Write down your monthly income and expenses and keep track of how much you spend. I personally use the EveryDollar app to track our monthly spending. It’s easy to use and it’s free to download.
  • Look at your monthly budget and see where you can cut. Are you spending too much on groceries? Eating out? Car insurance? Monthly subscriptions?
  • Get term life insurance. Shop around and see what is available on the market. We personally used Zander to find our term life insurance policy.

Feel free to leave me a comment or an email.

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