April was a crazy busy month. Mostly in a good way, but still extremely busy. I started my public service board commission for our city, sent some good friends off on a move to Hawaii, wrapped up a work project and began a new one, and we went out of town three separate weekends because I apparently don’t know how to sit still and relax, no matter how much I try and focus my yeses.
Weekend trip #1 was a whirlwind ~24 hours down to Oregon so I could attend my college sorority’s annual alumni event. Long story short, our sorority doesn’t have the funds to continue paying for the house we’ve been in for the past 50 years, so after this year, there will be no more physical structure for the sorority at that campus. While I realize that the sorority is well more than four walls, I spent much of my time in college in that house and I have a lot of strong memories tied to it. And so, even though we really didn’t have the time to fit in a trip south that month, we made it happen. I’m very appreciative of my husband because I had talked myself out of it because of the timeline, but he brought it up again a few days before the event and so we made it happen. I had a wonderful, bittersweet time with my sorority sisters, and I’m so glad we made the trip. Allyson over at Auditing Myself is also a Delta Gamma, and conversations with her really reminded me that the sisterhood there is more than just my college’s campus and that specific house.
Since my alma mater is about an hour south of Portland, we decided to stay the night in the city, and I found a great hotel for a reasonable price within walking distance of one of the many neighborhoods downtown. My husband’s godfather, a local friend, and Bethany from HisAndHerFI joined us for an awesome dinner of bimimbap after happy hour at Kells Brewery. If you’re ever in Portland, I would highly recommend both places.
Trip number two was a camping trip out to – surprise – the Olympic Peninsula that had been planned for a while and we had quite a few friends join us. The forecast predicted rain for most of the weekend, but we lucked out and it only rained on us Saturday afternoon. The campground was free, and other than traveling to and from the area, our only expenditures for that weekend were food and beer.
The final trip we took in April was to Leavenworth, also last minute, but since we had Christmas gift money specifically earmarked for a weekend there, the overall cost was quite reasonable. It had been a good seven months or so since we had been to the area, so we really enjoyed being there. While it’s a very visitor centered town that was specifically designed to a Bavarian theme about fifty years ago to keep the town alive, there are a ton of great free things to do outdoors, some great kid centered shops and activities, and of course, great local wine, beer, and food. It’s a favorite spot of ours, and we go back a couple of times a year.
The bulk of our “miscellaneous” category this month was the $78 charge for our son’s soccer classes at preschool. They’re an optional add on, but they’re his absolute favorite part of preschool, so it is a non negotiable cost for us. Our son had a rough time transitioning to two days a week of preschool instead of all mama or grandma time, so I’m forever grateful that soccer gave him something to look forward to on those days. He likes going to preschool in general now, but soccer is still his very favorite part of those two days a week.
Food and Drink
Once again, our food and drink costs are higher than would be expected of a family in the pursuit of financial independence, but they are much lower than they used to be. Amazingly, this was our first month where our grocery bill was under $400, but our restaurant (and brewery) costs more than made up for the lower “at home” food costs.
This was mostly due to the three weekend trips, but we also covered the cost of a nice dinner out with my parents. Even now, they still pay for most of the meals we share together, but we like to pick them up when we can (*ahem* when we can give the server our credit card faster than my father). That one meal alone added a chunk to our restaurant expense for the month, but I don’t regret paying for it for one minute. We have transitioned our regular meals with them to mostly home cooked meals these days though, partially because of this blog and my mom feeling like we shouldn’t spend the money out when I’m so focused on frugality and waste 😉
No Spend Days
We had nine no spend days this month. Not a record, but still close to 1/3 of the whole month. I know some people do much better at this than we do, but a lot of the spending days are just because that’s when we end up paying bills / going grocery shopping. The big reason why I still keep track though is because it requires me to stay mindful in our spending, even when it comes to “required” spending.
April 2018 Spending (Excludes mortgage + daycare)
|January 2018||February 2018||March 2018||April 2018|
|Excluding Mortgage Principal||47%||45%||57%||47%|
I’m really happy with where April ended up, especially considering how much travel we did. While not our least expensive month since beginning tracking, we reversed the trend since January of creeping up the costs each month (though last month was mostly due to vet bills and planned tool purchases). However, the next few months will likely be a bit more spendy. In the near future, we will be spending money on truck tires, annual vet appointments for the dogs and cat, home maintenance, and a follow up hearing exam for me. We will also be out of town on a road trip for a couple of weeks in May, so while we won’t spend a ton of money as far as vacations go, two weeks of travel will still incur some costs.
We’ve just managed to squeak by with an overall savings rate over 50% thanks to the three paycheck month in March, and while this may dip over the next few months, I’m optimistic that we should be able to hit that 50% savings rate goal for 2018.
Do you put money into set sinking funds for things like vacations, vet bills, and home maintenance, or do you just float the money when the expense arises? If you do use sinking funds, any tips? I’m debating this for the future.