Let’s just say that this has been an expensive summer. Between vet bills, backyard fence replacement, and spending for future vacations, we have spent significantly more money than is average for us.
That said, for July in specific, we knew it was going to be expensive because of our dog’s surgery, so we spent accordingly on discretionary items. We still spent more than a bare bones budget, but we definitely tightened our belts a little bit beyond a typical month. We knew this summer was an expensive one, so we wanted to be ready. All told, this expensive summer feels very different from 2017, when cash flowing didn’t happen unless we drained our emergency fund.
To be honest, months like this are the biggest reason in my opinion to chase a high savings rate regardless of what your ultimate financial goals may be. By having quite a bit of space between our base expenses and our income every month, we are able to cash flow the big stuff as it arises without having to worry overly much.
Groceries and Food Expenses
I’ve had a goal this year to spend under $1,000 in a month on groceries, eating out, and alcohol. On average though, we’ve been spending around $1,200 – $1,400 a month, which is more than I would ultimately like but still half of what we used to spend.
We ate out less often than normal, only spent one weekend out of town (and brought food with us while we were camping), and we’d gotten the second half of the Lopez Island cow in June. Even so, we could have easily spent more than we did, but we made an intentional effort to eat at home and make due with what we had in the freezer and in the garden.
Even so, I was pretty shocked when July food and drink spending added up to just $900.32. Of that, I think the most shocking was our vacation food spending, which was $113, which is also the lowest we’ve ever spent in that category. My husband spent approximately $150 on work lunches for the month (and I even spent a little myself – which I’ve been doing without guilt ever since working through my though process there). Overall, I’m very happy with how this category landed for July.
The only time we went out of town in July was to go camping the last weekend out on the Olympic Peninsula. Camping, even in a campground, is an exceptionally cheap way to travel, and that weekend was no exception. The cost was even lower because we were able to share the cost with friends, both the campsite and the ferry fees.
I also paid for my ticket to the Seattle Cents Positive in October, which was $275, so the bulk of the vacation spending cost on July. Perhaps this should go in a separate “blog expenses” category, but if and until I actually get serious about bringing in real income with the blog, it doesn’t seem right to exclude them from our overall savings and spending as I’m definitely not coming out ahead when all my travel and conference related expenses are added in.
If you’re a blogger, how do you calculate your spending and savings rates as a household? Do you lump them in like I do, or do you have a completely separate “business expenses” spreadsheet? Clearly, I’m not treating this blog as a business at this point, so I haven’t separated out the costs and (very little total) income.
Toe amputation surgery. Need I say more? Of the $2,500 that we spent on pet care in July, over $2,000 of that was for the surgery and relayed costs. We are slowly weaning her off of the medication she takes for her heart condition, but the most expensive one ($105/month) is here to stay.
Crossing fingers and (remaining) toes that the rest of this year is minimal on the vet bill costs. I had started a separate savings account a few months ago to prepare for the surgery costs before I knew how much we could reduce the total bill by driving to a veterinary hospital south of us.
Now that the bill came in significantly lower than originally quoted by local places, I’m planning to just keep that money set aside and cash flow the surgery. As much as it would be nice to reduce the cost we’re paying out of pocket this month, we can make it work, so we’ll keep those funds for an extra rainy pet care day.
Ps – she turned 9 today! Happy birthday, puppy dog! We are so glad to still have you around.
We pay monthly for our kiddo’s soccer classes at preschool on top of day care costs, so I put that payment in here because there isn’t really anything else like it. Otherwise, my husband went to Kirkland Uncorked with a couple of friends. This kind of felt like “vacation” spending, but since it was a local event, I put it in the miscellaneous category instead.
It would have been really easy to find (legitimate) excuses for why we didn’t have the excess to give in June and then July. However, we still did put money into savings both months. Perhaps not as much as we would have liked to, but we did. So clearly, we still had some space to give. If we wait until a month looks great to give freely, we likely won’t give much at all.
July 2019 Spending (Excludes mortgage, daycare, and insurance)
|February 2019||March 2019||April 2019||May 2019||June 2019||July 2019|
|Including Mortgage Principal||40%||66%||47%||39%||19%||26%|
After two very expensive months, June being our most expensive one since I started tracking closely two years ago, we are at a 34% savings rate, year to date. Considering we were well into the forties through the month of May, this is more than a little bit painful. I was hoping to finally hit a 50% savings rate for a year in 2019, but those odds have shrunk after these summer months.
We are closing in on $6,000 of pet expenses this year already, and we have five months left to go. In comparison, we spent $4,300 in all of 2018. We have two dogs, one cat, and one snake, so that total seems somewhat reasonable. Double that feels quite a bit more painful. I hadn’t started tracking closely when we had the costs related to our dog’s heart condition diagnosis and follow up care, and we had to put down our last ferret in that same month. So while I don’t know exactly what we spent in 2017, it wasn’t cheap.
This year though, compared to 2017, means that we simply have a much lower savings rate that we would like – which is still higher than our overall average for all of 2016 and 2017. Keeping close tabs on our overall costs and mostly just spending on the things we really value has completely changed the way we are able to work through big expenses. Instead of worrying about draining our emergency fund or needing to open up a 0% credit card to float the difference, the difference is only seen in the amount of money we are able to send to savings.
Oh. And if you take away the vet bills, we are at over a 50% savings rate for the month. It’s a good thing we love her, because she sure isn’t cheap.