We experienced a LOT of unexpected spending this month. Well, I suppose “unexpected” isn’t the right word. More like “out of the ordinary” expenses.
It was our first month living in our new house.
And there were a lot of things we had to buy – a trash can, a silverware tray, cleaning supplies, grocery staples to stock our pantry. As a result, a few of our categories ended up higher than what is normal for us.
But when it’s all said and done, June was a good month.
So good, in fact, that my motto was: “Life is good when you live simply!” Life this month was very good! I was able to discover the simple joy in making homemade cookies – peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chip – and tried a few new big-batch recipes to save money on our take-to-work lunches, too.
DIY Home Improvement
Our new house didn’t come with a washer and dryer but we ended up saving over $600 on buying a good, high-end set. This was a complete WIN for us! We even installed it ourselves (a big task for us since we’re clueless about even the most minor DIY things in life).
We also somehow managed to unclog our bathtub drain ourselves.
Through a lot of googling and trial and error (plus a drain snake we borrowed from a friend – thank you, friend!), we managed to solve our slow-moving bathtub drain problem. And I no longer have soggy feet when I take a shower!
Oh – and this is quite possibly the coolest thing ever… Mr. Marvelous fixed our broken mini blinds!
I didn’t even know it was possible to rethread the string through the contraption and get it working again. But he managed to do it!
It saved us about $30 because we didn’t have to go out and buy a new set. Thank you Mr. Marvelous!
Our Fast Food Diet
No, this isn’t some new fad sweeping the nation – though maybe it should be! For us, a “fast food diet” is simply not spending any money going out to eat.
Last month, our restaurant spending was out of control.
Between being away from home because of medical issues and just plain being lazy, we spent a whopping $183 last month on going out to eat. (Not our highest month, but that’s more than I want to spend on food when it could go towards helping us get out of debt.)
This month? We spent ZERO dollars.
That’s right – we went a full month restaurant-free! I call it a “fast food diet,” though I suppose a better term would be “restaurant fasting.” (I think “fast food diet” has a better ring to it, don’t you?)
So how’d we do that? Simple – and here’s how you can, too:
- Commit to it – tell yourself (and your spouse and children!) absolutely NO going out to eat
- Invest in frozen pizza – there will be a time when you’re too tired/busy to cook a real meal
- Spend time prepping on the weekend – make a big batch of soup or pre-make two or three meals to stick in the fridge, making weeknight dinners a breeze
- Realize you’re not missing anything – sure, those restaurant meals taste nice but it’s so much more relaxing to enjoy a meal at home rather than stress about where to go to eat, how much you’re spending and whether or not you can really afford to go out
I didn’t miss going out to eat. Not at all. Girl Marvelous, on the other hand, struggled with the idea of no Taco Bell. (Lesson learned: you can live without Taco Bell in your life haha)
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Other Items to Note
- Vehicle registration: As part of the automotive expenses this month is a vehicle registration renewal topping $100 (the other costs were a $40 headlight bulb and an oil change)
- Gifts: My beautiful baby niece was born in June! And new babies require presents LOL – so our gift category was spent on her
- Banquet meal: Girl Marvelous went with me to a conference for work and I had to cover the cost of her meal for our annual banquet
- E-911 service: Stay tuned to find out how we got FREE home phone service! All it requires is a $25 annual fee for 911 service
- Overdue library fines: Self-explanatory and embarrassing to admit 🙁
- Pokedex: This allows Mr. Marvelous to save 3,000 individual Pokemon(where each game only holds a max of 966) and he can bring some monsters that he’s had since 2003 up to the current games (anyone else married to a gamer? LOL)
Charity, Tithing, and Generosity
We love to give! And I think you should, too.
Even though I believe sharing our money with others is a great way to bless those around us, it’s also a personal decision. Maybe it’s because money is such a taboo subject or because we don’t want to seem “greedy” by not giving as much as the next guy – whatever the reason, I believe giving your money isn’t something we should draw attention to.
And that’s why I don’t share our giving with you.
Mr. Marvelous and I do give our money – we tithe, we give to charity and those in need in our community, and we are sponsoring a young girl named Tamara, who lives in Malawi, through World Vision.
Initially, our transition into living on a budget and finding frugal solutions to life’s expenses was fueled solely by our desire to get out of debt. And while that is still a big push (we’ve paid off $30k but aren’t done yet!), the other big push to live frugally and simply is to share our blessings with others.
But you’ll never see it on our expense reports (that’s the only secret between us, I swear!) and I’ll never tell you how and why you should give your money, either.
A Note on Debt
Debt sucks, plain and simple. There is no way to sugar coat it.
Some debt isn’t bad – like mortgages, I don’t have a big problem with those – but the debt Mr. Marvelous and I accumulated is mostly in the form of credit cards, car loans, and student loans.
Bad. Bad. Bad.
We have managed to pay of $30k in debt over the past two years by using frugal substitutions and by simply going without some of life’s luxuries. For instance, we canceled our satellite tv package and use Netflix instead, and we switched to re-usable water bottles instead of buying bottled water.
It’s pretty simple and we’ve learned to enjoy the simple things in life. And that brings an immense amount of peace.
How We Track Our Spending and Save Money
Mr. Marvelous and I utilize the free and hugely popular Personal Capital to track our spending and watch our savings build.
It syncs across all our devices and has a sweet app for our smartphone for easy on-the-go tracking. And the best part is it puts everything on auto-pilot and requires very little input from us – which is a huge time (and sanity!) saver for us.
I used to be obsessed with our budget and tracking our expenses. I was a spreadsheet junkie and had a hard time letting go.
You see, I’m old-school when it comes to some of that stuff. (Plus I love spreadsheets.)
But it was taking up way too much of my time and making tracking our spending harder than it needed to be. So a friend introduced us to Personal Capital and I’ve never looked back.
Why We Don’t Use Cash
Being a big Dave Ramsey fan for quite a while, I almost feel like an imposter saying we don’t use cash. (If you didn’t know, Dave Ramsey is a huge cash-only advocate for getting spending under control.)
But it just wasn’t working for us.
We used the envelope system off and on for the past few years. It’s a great system! But Mr. Marvelous never had money to fill up his gas tank and if I asked him to pick up milk on the way home, he didn’t have the cash for that, either.
It was more hassle than it was worth for us.
That’s why we switched to using our debit card exclusively for purchases – we always have it on-hand and it puts tracking our spending on autopilot.
I don’t have to wonder where that random $20 bill went because all our transactions are imported automatically into Personal Capital for us to see. It’s easy-peasy. And if you haven’t looked into it yet, I highly recommend it.
And now… here’s how we spent our money this month: