This feels a bit different to be writing this update two thirds of the way through July, because that month unfortunately isn’t looking all that different in terms of expenses. I think at this point, I just need to expect that the summer months will end up being the expensive ones for us, because this is the third year in a row where that has been the case.
Last summer was pricey, but not quite as bad at this one. The summer before that though, we ended up in the red and needing to use our emergency fund to cover those big expenses. After writing that post, I decided I really couldn’t stomach draining our cash reserves like that, so I signed us up for a 0% interest credit card instead.
We did pay off that credit card within the 0% promotional period, so it didn’t cost us any money, but it sure didn’t feel good. After that experience, I told myself that we would never be in that situation again, at least within reason. And we haven’t.
This summer is really expensive again, but we aren’t going into the red. As much as it hurts to see such a low savings rate this month, I have to keep reminding myself that it is still a positive savings rate. Which means we cash flowed all of those big expenses thus far (and I expect to do the same in July).
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
Groceries and food expenses
If it wasn’t for the $300 quarter cow purchase this month, we would have gotten very close to getting under that $1,000 target for food and drink. As it was, we ended up spending $1,393.05, which is about average to where we’ve landed without a bulk meat purchase.
We did a good job of minimizing our restaurant spending, mostly because we spent all but one night at home in June. Otherwise, we did get out on a date night and went to meals with friends a few times. And then the husband’s worth lunches came to $150 of that total. Since the realization that I wanted to budget one lunch out a week for me, I did spend a little under $50 on lunches for me as well.
Most of our spending in the vacation category went toward future travel rather than current trips. We did splurge on a single night in Leavenworth at a nice hotel, but it was well worth the trip, and the only vacationing we did in June.
Otherwise, we finally got our passports for the three of us, which came to just over $400, and I paid the annual fee for my Chase Marriott credit card. Since that card comes with a free night, the $95 fee will likely be worth it. We don’t have any plans for redeeming that night yet, but I’m certain we’ll find good use for it.
I also bought my plane ticket to DC for FinCon in September and paid out of pocket as the redemption wasn’t great with points. Plus, I would rather save our credit card rewards for when we travel altogether and need a lot more to cover the trips.
Finally, we booked the Airbnb for my grandmother’s birthday trip back to Leavenworth. We’ve taken her the last two birthdays and she wants to go back there again this year. We have such a good time there together, and it is such a better way to celebrate a birthday than to be buying her some other thing she doesn’t need.
If you haven’t stayed in an AirBnB before, I would highly recommend it. We love the flexibility it gives us while traveling as a family – full kitchen, laundry, and extra bathrooms, and it’s usually considerably cheaper than a hotel, especially when you travel as a group. If you’re new to AirBnB, here’s a link for$40 off your first stay.
June saw the annual check up and vaccines for both dogs, as well as the regular medication costs for our older dog. Our “base” pet care costs right now are about $250 a month between food and medications, so this line item is never going to be insignificant. Stay tuned though, because this number is insignificant compared to July (the pup had surgery).
Home ownership expenses
Much overdue by at least a year or two, we’ve finally tackled our backyard fence replacement. We have a lovely sized yard, but that means that there is just more linear feet of fence that need to be replaced when the time comes.
Since the backyard is completely surrounded by tall evergreen trees and doesn’t ever get direct sunlight, things wear more quickly than they would otherwise. For that reason, the new fence is made of pressure treated materials and stainless steel hardware.
Between the cost of the more expensive materials and the total length of the replacement, this work hasn’t been cheap. Thankfully, my husband has the skills and tools to do the replacement himself, but even so, the total cost to do so is well north of a thousand dollars. Granted, it would have been significantly more if we had needed to hire someone else to do the labor.
We paid to go up to the top of the Space Needle at the beginning of the month. Since it was a local thing, I didn’t put it into vacation spending, but maybe it really belongs there. We definitely had a “vacation” type of day with out of town friends even if all we did was take the bus into Seattle.
That day was also when the New York Times article I was featured in was published in print. I picked up four copies because I wasn’t sure how many hard copies I would want to have, but I was a little shocked that one cost a full six dollars. Clearly, I don’t buy newspapers or magazines pretty much ever.
Otherwise, miscellaneous spending included soccer for the kiddo (it’s an add on that he gets to do at preschool) and a phone holder arm band for my husband. He also bought himself a couple new pairs of Carhartt pants for work after wearing through a few.
June 2019 Spending (Excludes mortgage, daycare + insurance)
|January 2019||February 2019||March 2019||April 2019||May 2019||June 2019|
|Including Mortgage Principal||34%||40%||66%||47%||39%||19%|
Bottom line, it was painful to write out our expenses for June and share it here. After almost two years of sharing our monthly savings rate here on the blog, June was by far the lowest we’ve had by a good margin.
19% – or just 13% excluding our standard mortgage principal payment – feels like a paltry small amount compared to the 35 – 55% we’ve been hitting (and up to 61 – 67% in three paycheck months). As someone who is publicly sharing and striving for an average fifty percent savings rate for the year, June really felt like a failure on its face.
I then went back and re read my post from the end of summer 2017 near the start of my blogging journey (and before I started tracking our expenses so closely). We had similarly large expenses over a number of months during that time as well, but we weren’t able to weather that spike nearly as well.
We didn’t have a 19% savings rate that summer. In fact, we didn’t have a positive savings rate at all. Back to back spendy months landed us in a place to need to use our emergency fund (or eventually open that 0% credit card).
Prior to that, we had used 0% financing for home improvement situations from our furnace and hot water install to our washer and dryer. We’ve always been able to find ways around paying interest, but paying back those 0% loans meant that we weren’t putting money away toward our future instead.
We have come a long way from needing to find ways to cover an additional few thousand dollars in expenses that crop up in a single month. Because our base expenses are low enough now, we can cash flow those payments and simply put less into savings during those months.
And clearly, we didn’t have to spend money on some of the things that popped up in June (namely my FinCon plane ticket and future vacation spending). But we are also not on an all out sprint to financial independence. We could have shaved off a few hundred dollars off of June’s spending, but to what end?
Overall, our money went to reasonable places, and that’s really what matters most. And we are still at a 41% savings rate year to date halfway through the year. Will we hit 50%? Maybe not. But hopefully we can at least match last year’s at 46%. No matter what, I can say that we have been intentional with our money and have made the best choices we could with the options we had.