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Mrs. Daisy

5 Frugal Things

{Much like a budget, a food journal or a gratitude journal, I believe that recording and acknowledging your frugal successes (and maybe some failures) is a necessity when you are embarking on a frugality adventure like myself. I first came across 5 Frugal Things on THE FRUGAL GIRL who came across it on THE NON-CONSUMERADVOCATE.COM and I’ve been hooked since.}

This post contains affiliate links – but don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I’ve personally tried out and love. 

 

 

frugal things

5 Frugal Things

  1. Mr. Daisy has been on an English Muffin kick at breakfast lately. Luckily while I was strolling through Target for some mommy-time, I noticed a Cartwheel coupon for 50% off all Thomas varieties. I picked the last 3 packages up for about $1.20 each. I went back yesterday evening but they did not re-stock 🙁

2. Rather than buying Mr. Daisy snacks for his lunch, I whipped up a batch of white macadamia nut cookies with pantry staples that were on hand.

 

3. Mr. Daisy spent the rainy weekend in the garage working on several cars. He performed some routine maintenance on our vehicles in the form of oil changes and tire rotations. Keeping up to date on the maintenance of our cars is vital to our frugal journey and I am so fortunate to have a mechanic for a hubby. He also put brakes and wheel bearings on his mom’s vehicle…we will get a free dinner as payment for services!

4. I made a big pot of potato soup Saturday afternoon that served as dinner on Saturday, dinner on Sunday, and lunch for me today.

5. In an effort to reduce our waste, we invested in a reusable Keurig cup. Neither of us are big coffee drinkers, so making a pot of coffee would be a waste. However, using k-cups is a much larger form of waste as the cups are non-recyclable. We purchased a plastic one, however I think I’m going to use some Swagbucks and get a gift card for Amazon to order a stainless steel k-cup like this one. 

 

Frugal Fail

If you follow me in Instagram, you already know that I killed our brand new vacuum. It was a Christmas present and I dearly, dearly loved my Shark vacuum. Mr. Daisy attempted to be frugal by tearing it apart and fixing it. Unfortunately, I had done far too much damage. I hopped on the Kohl’s website through Swagbucks and ordered a new vacuum for in-store pickup. I paired a $10 off coupon, 20% off, and 2SB per dollar via Swagbucks and only paid $110 for a $199 vacuum. I also received $20 back in Kohl’s Cash which will be used to buy Mr. Daisy some new socks.

Buying a new one right away may not have been the most frugal-minded action in some people’s opinion. But an efficient, functioning vacuum is essential to our household. We have quite a bit of carpet. Add a toddler, 2 dogs, and people who are constantly in and out into the equation. I vacuum daily. Sometimes more than once. So this was a worth it purchase for me. It will definitely be thrown into our Aw $hit budget category!

What frugal adventures did you have this weekend?

Our transparent family budget with actual numbers

My original ambition for starting this blog was to share my family’s real numbers and real budget as we strive to climb out of 6 figures of debt. This is my monthly budget report post in which I do exactly that. Please be kind and non-judgmental as I make something as personal as finances a public affair.

monthly budget

 

Oh, April. Tax month. Blech. While we didn’t have to pay a ridiculous amount of taxes like others do, we still had to shell out a few hundred bucks to our city.

April was far better than our March budget, although there were a few setbacks that had to be taken care of.

Below you’ll find my easy-to-read snapshot of our monthly budget. It is comprised of 3 categories: Budgeted, Actual, and Results. I fill in the Budgeted at the beginning of the month, enter data in the Actual twice each month (mid-month check-in and end of the month), and the Results column is designed with formulas to easily show us if we were over, under or on budget and by how much.

Our transparent family budget with actual numbers

family budget
The Daisy April Budget

The good

  • Income was higher than expected this month thanks to some overtime from Mr. Daisy and bowling prize money won!
  • Under budget on pet food, fuel, spending cash, Little Daisy, and our Oh $hit category.
    • My mother in law gifted us some pet food
    • I’m really not sure how we were under for fuel, but I’ll take it!
    • Little Daisy didn’t need anything this month
    • As a result of being more intentional with our spending cash, we reduced that category
  • With roughly $700 left this month, so we threw $500 into our emergency savings and the remainder onto a credit card.

The bad

  • Our heating bill was normal this month, however our furnace needed some maintenance so I threw that expense into this category.
  • Our vehicles line was more than budgeted due to some minor maintenance and a few car washes.
  • Do you ever sign up for a free trial and forget to cancel it before you’re charged the monthly fee? Yep, that happened to me this month which is why our subscription line is more than budgeted. I took care of that right away.
  • I didn’t separate groceries from personal items like I had hoped this month so that line is technically over budget.
  • Our household miscellaneous line is over budget because we purchased a patio set that I am super, super excited about! We had nowhere to sit outside and enjoy the weather for meals or to just relax. I had been on the lookout for used sets when I found a deal at Wal-Mart that I could not pass up!
  • Entertainment is way over budget due to the girls’ trip my mom and I took this month. It was well worth it.
  • Our other category includes some gifts for bridal showers and our city taxes. Boo.

The ugly

We spent $605.00 eating out at restaurants this month. What the &*%^! A chunk of that is from a wonderful night out for a friend’s birthday, but that still leaves $500 in restaurant costs. Live and learn, I suppose. We will diligently work on this during May.

May budget goals

  1. Pay ourselves $200 on the first of the month.
  2. Pay an extra $750 on credit cards.
  3. Limit eating out to <$100.
  4. Be more mindful of how often the debit card is swiped.
  5. Split grocery line into grocery and personal items.

May wins & challenges

WINS:

  1. No bowling budget = +$116 in our pocket
  2. Increased overtime = at least an extra $500 in income

CHALLENGES:

  1. Out of town wedding ~ $150
  2. Another bridal shower ~$75
  3. Garden expenses ~$100
  4. Dogs’ annual visit and vaccinations ~$150
  5. Brakes on Kia ~$100

 

How did your finances pan out in April?

You can follow Dirt Road Daisy on Pinterest HERE

You can follow Dirt Road Daisy in Instagram HERE

Related posts:

Budget Setbacks {& how I handle them}

Mid-Month Budget Check-In with Actual Numbers

Our Monthly Budget with Real Numbers

 

 

A Frugal Week in Review {+some random thoughts}

This post contains affiliate links – but don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I’ve personally tried out and love. 

Are you ready for some miscellany? Here’s what has been happening on the Daisy Homestead:

Gardening

Homesteading                                                                                Mr. Daisy tilling up the garden

gardening
Naughty Mr. Daisy. Do you see the gesture he’s giving with his left hand? How rude.
gardening
Little Daisy the Sassy Supervisor

Hiking & Nature Walks

I’ve been enjoying the recent beautiful Great Lakes weather by getting out on the trails and doing some hiking during my lunch break:

hiking
Nature Preserve at the local Agricultural College
hiking
A flowering tree. I’m a biologist…but botany was not my concentration…

Reading

I’ve got two books on my bookshelf right now, one fiction and one nonfiction.

For nonfiction, I’m reading  Money Secrets of the Amish: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving . I am only three chapters in, but I am truly enjoying this read. It’s an easy read and the author is the perfect combination of sassy and informational. I have laughed out loud quite a few times!

On the fiction front, I am reading Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth. She also authored the very well known Divergent Trilogy that I enjoyed up until the end of the last book. I’ve never been so upset at the ending of a book – I actually stopped reading and didn’t finish! Mr. Daisy makes fun of me because I still get fired up about this! But, I digress. Carve the Mark lives up to the Divergent Triology in transporting the reader to a completely different world. Her descriptive writing makes you feel like you are in the book, and that’s what I love about reading fiction.

Eating & Grocery Shopping

I’ve fallen off the wagon on recording our grocery purchasing and intake, but I promise, we’re still eating 🙂

We spent $130.37 at our regional large chain (Giant Eagle) and earned $0.30  in fuel perks to bring our total to 50 cents of each gallon of gas. Later in the week, I spent $21.39 at ALDI for produce and some items to make side dishes for the two bowling banquets we have this week. My super simple Veggie Pizza is a hit at these events!

I’m giving us a little grace with our grocery spending. I understand that it is one of the easiest categories in which to cut back spending, however our family has other categories to focus on. Like eating out. We spent $400 in April on eating out. I about fell out of my chair when I was working through our finances. So, if a few more dollars spent each week at the grocery store will reduce/eliminate the eating out, so be it!

What We’re Watching

Mr. Daisy and I make it a point to spend time together each evening after Little Daisy is asleep. This usually consists of us snuggling on the couch watching TV while he plays with my hair. I really wish WordPress had a heart eyes emoji!

We’ve been watching Heartland on Netflix and yearning to move to Alberta and buy a ranch. We’ve also been watching the NBA Playoffs rooting our Cavaliers on. Defend the Land! 🙂

May will be here Monday, and with it I will be discussing our financial and family plans and goals for the month.

What have you been up to in April?

Credit Card Utilization Percentage + a free spreadsheet!

For those of you that are new here, this blog chronicles my family’s journey out of six figures of debt. This epic amount is a combination of student loans, credit cards, vehicle loans, and a personal loan. If you’re interested in a more in depth explanation, check out this post.

One of our primary financial goals for 2017 is to knock out our credit card debt to reach a utilization of less than 30% in hopes of giving our credit scores a boost. We are currently renting from my in-laws and will need to be out of this home by February 2018. We have zero desire to rent again, so we have less than a year to get ourselves mortgage-ready and in a lender-favorable position.

I assume that some of you will read this and think that we are crazy for wanting a mortgage while being in six figure debt. Personal finance is just that, personal. Unique. Different. Our decisions may be the last decision someone else would choose, but that’s the beauty of living in a diverse world.

What is credit card utilization?

Expressed as a percentage, this is the relationship between balances on your credit cards and the credit limits.

Example: You owe $450 on your Kohls credit card. Your credit limit is $1000. 450/1000=0.45=45% You are utilizing 45% of your available credit.

Why is credit card utilization important?

Your credit card utilization is a significant element used in calculating your credit score. Banks interpret high utilization rates as an inability to efficiently manage your money.

Why 30%?

Banks and lenders need to see evidence that you can manage your money in a wise manner. I am not a fan that one must go into debt in order to prove your acumen in finances. You would think that by prudently managing your money and paying cash for everything would be proof enough. But, I digress.

From my research and conversations with several lenders, a utilization rate of less than 30% is the industry standard that places you in the “good” category. A utilization of 1-10% is even better.

I have received conflicting information on 0% credit card balances. One lender says that in order to increase your credit score you should charge a manageable amount and pay it off each month in order to avoid interest. Another lender informs you that you should carry a small balance from month to month. What to do, what to do? (If any of you have any insight, I’d love to hear it!)

If this graph is any indication, carrying a 1-10% utilization rate on your credit cards results in the highest average credit score.

Credit Score Chart

Source: Credit Karma

Calculating your credit card utilization

I created this extremely simple Excel spreadsheet in order to get a snapshot of our family’s credit card utilization and I wanted to share it with you all.

Here’s a snapshot:

These are not our numbers. How I wish they were. 

How to use the credit card utilization spreadsheet

  • Enter the account information: account name, due date, minimum payment, current balance, and the limit.
  • The current utilization, target utilization balance, and total to pay have built in formulas so it should automatically populate.
    • If it doesn’t, the calculations are as follows:
      • Current Utilization = Current Balance/Limit
      • Target Utilization Balance = Limit*0.3
      • Total to Pay = Current Balance – Target Utilization Balance
  • The Current Utilization and Total Utilization cells are formatted to appear red when the value is greater than 30.49% and green when less than 30.49%.
  • You can assign priority however you see fit. Personally, we assign priority to the highest Total to Pay amount.

I am quite sure that there are more fancy and sophisticated spreadsheets out there to capture this information. But if you’re like me, you like simple and straight forward.

Here is a link to download the Excel file:

Free Credit Card Utilization Spreadsheet & Calculator

If you try it out, let me know what you think! Also, if you find it useful – share with your friends!

5 Frugal Things: The Free Edition!

This post contains affiliate links – but don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I’ve personally tried out and love. 

{Much like a budget, a food journal or a gratitude journal, I believe that recording and acknowledging your frugal successes (and maybe some failures) is a necessity when you are embarking on a frugality adventure like myself. I first came across 5 Frugal Things on THE FRUGAL GIRL who came across it on THE NON-CONSUMERADVOCATE.COM and I’ve been hooked since.}

frugal lifestlye

Today’s 5 Frugal Things is exciting because everything I will be sharing with you was FREE!

Even more exciting, the items are free AND useful. Cue singing birds and heart eyes emojis.

Free buckets for container gardening

I was fortunate to snag these buckets from work to use for our container gardening and other random jobs around the yard. They’re a bit yucky as they contained vitamin E oil. The scientist in me is anxious to see if there is any different in the plants that were grown in the “dirty” buckets vs. buckets that were cleaned out. Stay tuned!

Free feminine pads

Thanks to Crystal over at Money Saving Mom and her regular freebie posts, I snagged a free sample of some feminine pads. These are perfect to throw in my first aid kit or 72 hour emergency bag.

Free Emergen-C samples

Again, thanks to Crystal’s posts, I received 2 free packets of Emergen-C and a coupon. Mr. Daisy drank one this morning because he said he felt a cold coming on. He loved the taste!

Coupons for free Bath & Body Works

I received these coupons for free lotions and shower gels at Bath & Body Works. My mom gave me hers also so I will be getting 4 free items! As much as I despise receiving a load of junk mail and promotions, signing up for retail stores’ mailing lists often results in some great coupons. My favorites are Elder-Beerman, JC Penney, Bath & Body Works, and Kohls. I am usually able to get free items through their promotions!

Free Proactiv via Swagbucks

Have you ever heard of Swagbucks? I’m sure you have. And I hope you love it as dearly as I do. I do virtually ALL of my shopping via Swagbucks, minus grocery shopping.

For example, I have really been wanting an electric griddle. I stumbled upon an excellent deal at Kohls,  shopped through Swagbucks, selected in-store pickup, and earned cash back. Win win situation because I received a little kickback and more importantly, I go right to Customer Service to get my item and I walk right back out. I do not stop at racks, I do not impulse shop. I go directly to the door. (Did you pretend you were reading that off of a Monopoly card? Because I did.)

So, I was perusing Swagbucks the other day near the end of my lunch break and came across a Proactiv deal they had running. Receive 3,000 swagbucks for trying Proactiv. If you’re unfamiliar with Swabucks, 100 swagbucks = $1. Therefore, 3,000 swabucks = $30. The trial I selected cost me under $30. Therefore, I’m trying this Proactiv (something I’ve been wanting to try for ages), for free.

If you’re interested in learning more about Swagbucks, feel free to shoot me an email, leave a comment, or click this link.

Have you had any frugal or free adventures recently?

Celebrating Earth Day with Kids

This post contains affiliate links – but don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I’ve personally tried out and love. 

I’m a few days late to the Earth Day game, but I wanted to share how we celebrated this year and how we celebrate Earth each and every day.

I talked HERE about how some of my greatest passions are education and science, so Earth Day is one of my favorite days to lay the educational fun on Little Daisy!

Learning about Earth

Each night last week, we read a chapter from Usborne’s Why Should I Bother About The Planet? book.

We had so much fun reading through this book! Some of the topics we covered were green energy, water pollution, water shortages, wildlife in danger, air pollution and recycling. It was heartening to watch my three year old realize that there are places in the world where access to water is not as simple as turning on the faucet. I caught her sternly telling Mr. Daisy to turn off the sink while he was brushing his teeth 🙂 This book has 48 pages of beautifully illustrated artwork bursting with information.

Some of the interesting tips offered in the book:

  • Don’t buy foil or helium balloons. The foil is not biodegradable and helium is a valuable gas. Instead, buy latex balloons.
  • Don’t pick wildflowers. The entire plant may die, and the flowers can’t make seeds.
  • Buy dolphin-friendly tuna. That means the tuna is caught with nets meant to exclude dolphin by-catch.
  • Wash dishes and vegetables in a bowl for less water consumption.
  • Use rechargeable, alkaline manganese batteries. Other types of batteries can leak toxic heavy metals into the soil and landfills.

My favorite feature of this book is the even distribution of information to recommendations. There are several pages of tips, tricks, and ideas for children and families to utilize in order to reduce their energy consumption. Every little bit counts, right? Unfortunately, Usborne Books & More no longer lists this book on their official website. However, you can purchase it on Amazon or eBay!

Saving the bees

Another way we celebrated Earth Day was by planting some bee friendly flowers! We are bee lovers in this family, lovers of any pollinator actually. (Even though I’m highly allergic!) I routinely catch and release bees that fly in our home rather than swatting them with a rolled up newspaper! And although I’ll fiercely and unashamed-ly run from a yellow jacket, I understand they serve a purpose in our ecosystem and resist the urge to take a swing at them with a hard object.

Usborne’s Gardening for Beginners book is one that we have been using with Little Daisy for the past two summers. We’ve also gifted this to many, many friends! This book is full of delightful illustrations, information, and detailed and fun activities to do with your children. Or by yourself if you’re a kid at heart like me.

 

It has a durable cover, thick glossy pages, and my favorite feature…a ringed binding! I wish ALL books were like this. It would just be so convenient. Amirite?

Here is the page we worked off of for our bee-friendly project this year. We requested some seeds from Feed a Bee  when they were running a special. Little Daisy and I are very excited to see what sprouts in her little flower garden. Photos to come!

Here are some of the other projects outlined in this awesome book:

Hands-down, my favorite feature of these Usborne books is that they are Internet-linked. What this means is that each book has a set of unique quick-links online that will link you up to more information and activities for FREE!

How we practice green living

Of course, we try to practice a green-leaning life on the Daisy Homestead every day. Some ways we do this are:

  • composting our scraps of food, paper, and grass clippings
  • recycling our recyclables
  • catching the water the we run while warming bath water
  • watering plants with water that pasta or other food was boiled in
  • turning off the sink when brushing our teeth or washing our face
  • only washing clothes when there is a full load, same for the dishwasher
  • being mindful of the lights that are on in our home
  • reuse as much as possible…packaging, paper, envelopes, etc.
  • make an effort to purchase items made from recycled or sustainable sources
  • growing our own vegetables
  • we never litter. And if we see someone litter, we pick it up and maybe kindly tell them it’s not such a nice thing to do. It’s mean and lazy.

How did you celebrate Earth Day? What does your family do to benefit the environment?

5 Frugal Things {how I’ve saved money this week}

{Much like a budget, a food journal or a gratitude journal, I believe that recording and acknowledging your frugal successes (and maybe some failures) is a necessity when you are embarking on a frugality adventure like myself. I first came across 5 Frugal Things on THE FRUGAL GIRL who came across it on THE NON-CONSUMERADVOCATE.COM and I’ve been hooked since.}

I apologize for the blog silence over the last few days. I haven’t been the greatest at pre-writing and scheduling my blogs posts. I’ve made it a priority for the next few weeks, so hopefully I will be chugging out useful posts more often.

frugal lifestlye

How I saved money this week

  1. Our grocery bill this week was a whopping $2. The pantry, freezer, and refrigerator are chock full after this Easter weekend. (We have 3 Easter dinners to hit, and each family sends us home with leftovers!) I may have to make a last minute grocery run for a few things towards the middle of the week.
  2. I talked about this HEREbut Little Daisy’s Easter basket fillings were practically free thanks to  a giveaway from Hannah over at Eat Drink & Save MoneyI got all of this for about $2 out of pocket: frugal shoppingApparently the Easter bunny in our house hands out M.D.’s 😉
  3. I made a huge batch of cowboy caviar to take as a covered dish to two of the Easter dinners. I had all of the ingredients on hand, so no money out of pocket. Recipe for this is coming soon 🙂
  4. We sourced 12 free buckets from my workplace to be used in our container gardening efforts this summer.
  5. We drank coffee at home all weekend, are steadily bringing in side hustle money and have not accrued any more debt.

Budget Fail

On Friday evening, we went out for my best friend’s 30th birthday. We budgeted about $50 for the evening to include food and drinks. Well…the margaritas tasted a lot better than I had imagined they would and our bill somehow ended up being $87. I take full responsibility, but it was so worth it. We had a blast.

What are your frugal successes and frugal fails for the last week?

Getting Out Of Debt: Here’s How to Start

When my husband and I stopped ignoring the fact that we were in six figures of debt and decided to do something about it, we jumped right in the express lane with no plan whatsoever. Our strategy worked for a few months as we haphazardly put extra money here and there on different debts with no real rhyme or reason. The balances slowly started to decrease, but then we hit a wall.

We got disorganized, tired, and lost our motivation. Why? Why did this concept that seemed so simple end up running aground?

Benjamin Franklin said it best,

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

We hadn’t taken any time to lay a solid foundation, set realistic and achievable goals, or truthfully analyze our situation. Naively, we thought that things would just somehow work out.

The rest of this post can be seen over at The Frugal Farmer where I am a guest poster today!

Miscellany {5 things style}

Yesterday I mistakenly stated that I would have a guest post up on The Frugal Farmer. I’m not sure what I was thinking, because it will be up Monday, April 10. I’ll blame it on mommy brain 🙂 

5 Frugal Things

  • I scanned my CVS Xtra Care card at the in-store kiosk for some coupons. I received a $1.50 off a laundry detergent purchase and there happened to be an off-brand (I’m not picky!) for $1.47 making it FREE.
  • We experienced some torrential rain late last week that resulted in a roof leak. Although we rent, renting from family means that we take care of whatever repairs we can. Mr. Daisy climbed up in the attic and realized the leak was coming from the chimney. We had some goop (I have no idea what it’s actually called) so he patched up the leak in a matter of minutes. There will be no long term damage since we handled it immediately and it cost us $0.
  • We have been diligently composting our coffee grounds, produce scraps, and paper. Even Little Daisy is in on the fun!
  • I sold a few items that have been up on eBay for a better part of one month. An extra $75 in our account got transferred directly to savings. (In my post from yesterday, I talk about how we are focusing on savings rather than debt repayment over the next few months)
  • I packed and ate lunch at work all week (which is HUGE for me), drank home-brewed and work-brewed coffee and tea, did not have to purchase any Easter eggs (thanks to Little Daisy’s grandmas) or a basket.

5 Things That Are Making Me Happy

  • The Duluth Trading No-Yank Tank(I’m not affiliated, but hit me up Duluth!) This tank top is the bomb. The price is extremely reasonable when compared to the quality and performance of the product. I have curves, and my tank tops are constantly riding or I’m pulling them down so that I don’t resemble a plumber. These tank tops do exactly what  they say they’ll do. Whether I’m working in the garden, throwing bales of hay, helping a cow give birth, or simply cleaning my house…these bad boys stay put. They’re soft, breathable, have the perfect amount of coverage, and hold up well. I have 4 of them, that’s how much I adore these tank tops. Mr. Daisy raves about their button down shirts, t-shirts, and outerwear also.

work clothes

  • Although I don’t appreciate that random winter storm that hit us last night, I can appreciate the beauty:
snow storm
                                I love the way fresh snow looks on tree branches.
  • Prior to this snow storm, spring had sprung here in the Great Lakes region. With spring comes babies! Baby pigs, baby cows, and baby chickens. Little Daisy is getting her first dip into the spring farm lifestyle and she’s soaking it all in. Here’s some proof of spring:
Gardening
                                                   Little Daisy helping haul compost.

 

crocus flowers
                                                                Crocus flowers
  • Another thing I’m loving that could have been included in my 5 Frugal Things is a contest I won on one of my favorite blogs! Hannah over at Eat, Drink, and Save Money offered a $50 gift card to a really cool website called IncrediBundles and I won! I picked out items for Little Daisy’s Easter basket that only cost me $2 out of pocket. Here’s what I got her:
  • Lastly, I’m loving that my mom and I just planned a girl’s day getaway for her and I later this month! It will be nice to hit up some museums a few hours away and just bond with her.

What are you loving this week? Do any of them cross over into the frugal world?

 

You can follow Dirt Road Daisy on Pinterest HERE

You can follow Dirt Road Daisy on Instagram HERE

March Budget Report {with actual numbers}

My original ambition for starting this blog was to share my family’s real numbers and real budget as we strive to climb out of 6 figures of debt. This is my monthly budget report post in which I do exactly that. Please be kind and non-judgmental as I make something as personal as finances a public affair. 

monthly budget

I can’t believe that we are already in April! It’s crazy to me how some days seem to drag on forever, but then bam! We’re at then end of another month. Which means taking another hard look at our family’s spending and saving for the month.

The theme for this month was Budget Setbacks {which I wrote about HERE}. There was a broken cell phone, vehicle repairs, and that blasted “Other” category. We were $1267.16 over budget for March. Ouch. We were set to have $1700.00 in surplus had we stayed on budget. At our monthly budget meeting this month, Mr. Daisy and I made some changes to our budget categories and a huge commitment to altering some spending habits.

Below you’ll find my easy-to-read snapshot of our monthly budget. It is comprised of 3 categories: Budgeted, Actual, and Results. I fill in the Budgeted at the beginning of the month, enter data in the Actual twice each month (mid-month check-in and end of the month), and the Results column is designed with formulas to easily show us if we were over, under or on budget and by how much.

monthly budget
March 2017 Budget Report

Budget Fails

There is a lot of red in the Results column. Here’s the breakdown on the major snafus:

  • Cell Phone: $175 over budget. My phone completely died on me, woh woh. This $175 covers the cost and shipping of a replacement.
  • Vehicles: $484 over budget. I touched on this in the Budget Setback post, but Mr. Daisy’s truck was in dire need of some maintenance. I hate to think what this would have cost had we been required to take his truck into a shop and pay retail for parts and labor. I’ll have to jot this point down in my gratitude journal because it surely could have been worse.
  • Household Misc: $64 over budget. Mr. Daisy sprayed the yard for fleas and ticks, we purchased a new shower head, and replaced the rest of the light bulbs in the house with LEDs.
  • Groceries: $69 over budget. This isn’t too awful considering that I included our personal items (soap, detergent, shampoo, etc) in the grocery category this month. To get a better feel for what we’re actually spending on food, I am going to break personal items out into its own budget category for April.
  • Entertainment: $80 over budget. Mr. Daisy went paint balling with some of his friends, we bowled in a tournament, and got ice cream a few times with Little Daisy to celebrate that spring has finally sprung here in the Great Lakes region! Money well spent in my opinion 😉
  • Spending cash$60 over budget. There’s no real reason for this one other than I got a little ATM happy this month. Next month I am going to attempt to track what I spend that cash on because for the life of me I have no idea where it went.
  • Other: $450.00 over budget. Yuck. There were several culprits in this category. Lunches out, dinners out, clothes, wedding shower gifts, other wedding items, and stuff. Stuff that was not vital and completely unnecessary. I didn’t budget it into the Oh $hit category because it wasn’t Oh $hit stuff that came up.

Budget Successes

There is some light at the end of this $1200 over budget month:

  • We were under budget on pet food. My mother in law had some dog food that her dogs didn’t like and it happened to be exactly what we feed ours. Lucky coincidence.
  • Somehow, we were under budget by ~$50 on fuel. We got creative with some fuel perks at our regional grocery store and maybe we just didn’t drive as much. Not sure.

Moving Forward

Like I said, April is going to hold some changes for us in regards to our budget and spending habits. Here are the 5 major action steps for April:

  • We are going to pay ourselves first. Rather than waiting to see what we’ve spent and what’s left at the end of the month, we are going to transfer a set amount of money to savings prior to the spending commencing.
  • We are placing a larger impact on savings vs. debt repayment for the next few months. While we do have some savings put back for an emergency, we both decided that we need more of a reserve. Normally, I would have thrown that $580 remaining after expenses onto a debt. We are going to hold off on extra debt payments until we get an additional $2000 in savings. We set a goal of having this completely by July (which should be simple with Mr. Daisy’s overtime picking up)
  • We are splitting and adding some budget categories.
    • The grocery category is going to include only food. We are going to add a Personal Item category to capture shampoo, conditioner, deodorant etc. I will put detergents, cleaning supplies and the like in the Household Misc. category.
  • I am going to track my spending money. I’m a bit ashamed that I have no idea where my spending money went, which means that it went to unimportant endeavors.
  • We are going to baby step our way into implementing a cash budget for variable expenses. Starting with Entertainment in April, we are going to start using only cash much like Dave Ramsey touts.

Although this month did not go anywhere near what we had planned, I am thankful that we didn’t go negative. (We do have a reserve amount that kept in our checking account because $hit can and will happen)

Monday, I will share more details about our plan for April. Tomorrow, I am so excited to say that I will have a guest post (my first one!) up over at The Frugal Farmer. Laurie has some exciting stuff going on over at her blog for Financial Literacy month so be sure to stop by and check it out!

How did your finances pan out in March?

 

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Related posts:

Budget Setbacks {& how I handle them}

Mid-Month Budget Check-In with Actual Numbers

Our Monthly Budget with Real Numbers

 

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