Category Archives: bills

Follow-Up On My February 2014 Budget

So, I’ve been gone for a few weeks. I will follow-up on why soon.

But before I do that, I wanted to follow-up about my budget for February 2014. It was a wacky month with a bunch of changes during the month.

Keep in mind one of my budgeting philosophies: “Even though this is what I have budgeted for February at the start of the month, I give myself the flexibility to move money from one budget category to another. What is budgeted at the end February is likely to be different.”

And different it was…

My Actual Income for February 2014 (Earned in January 2014)

I made two adjustments. One because I screwed up. I had an additional $204.58 in my HSA account that I simply missed.

The second adjustment was made because we sold some of our kids’ clothes in February. The wife and I wanted to go ahead and use that money for clothes in February. Since this is money coming in, I count it as income.

Income Source Description Amount
His Income #1 The breadwinner. Accounts for more than 75% of our household income. $2,284.09
His Income #2 My side hustle(s). Currently, just tutoring (didn’t earn any money in January). Hopefully, more side hustles to come! $0.00
Her Income #1 The wife doesn’t have a full-time job. This is from her wedding planning part-time job. $485.00
Her Income #2 She also watches two kids in the morning and afternoon. $275.00
ESPP Income Actually, in a convoluted way, comes from my primary income. I sell my ESPP stocks for more than $9,000 every 6 months. I “pay” myself $1,500 every month. $1,500.00
Other Income Interest, dividends, contributions to our HSA, all other income. $388.82 $656.02
Total Income Money, money, money…!!! $4,932.91 $5,200.11

My (Revised) Budgeted Expenses for February 2014

From the income listed above, this is how I have budgeted for my expenses.

Category Description Budgeted Percentage
Charity Really, just our tithes for now. Seems disproportionate to our take-home income but is 10% of our gross. $800.00 $652.97 16.2% 12.6%
Child Care Day care (mostly; day care is expensive!), baby/toddler supplies (small portion of budget). $865.46 $1,250.00 17.5% 24.0%
Food Groceries, restaurants. $431.67 $455.82 8.8%
Gifts Birthdays, Christmas, etc. (Umm, Valentine’s Day… oops, forgot about this!) $0.00 0.0%
Health & Fitness Medicines, prescriptions, office visits, gym memberships. $352.91 $788.92 7.2% 15.2%
Housing Mortgage, insurance, pest control, maintenance, repairs. $1,231.86 $1,214.03 25.0% 23.3%
Miscellaneous Ah, the miscellaneous bucket. Includes allowance for the kids and “his and hers” spending cash. $46.50 $34.53 0.9% 0.7%
Personal Clothing, hair care, financial planning, life insurance, taxes, organizational dues. $132.46 $91.34 2.7% 1.8%
Recreation General entertainment, birthday parties, kid’s activities, vacation. $46.31 $0.00 0.9% 0.0%
Savings College, emergency fund, retirement… above and beyond automatic deposits into the dedicated (separate) checking account. $0.00 0.0%
Transportation Insurance, gasoline, license, registration, maintenance, repairs, car replacement. $698.23 $412.72 14.2% 7.9%
Utilities Cell phone, electricity, TV, Internet, water, sewer. $327.51 $299.78 6.6% 5.8%
Total Expenses  The whole shebang… $4,932.91 $5,200.11 100.0%

What Happened?

Primarily, our Health Savings Account had all sorts of system issues, and I didn’t have debit card access to the account. So, I ended up charging our February medical/prescription expenses to our day-to-day checking account.

I could reimburse my checking account from the HSA, but I think it’s too much hassle to keep up with a ton of paperwork for a few hundred dollars. Our budget took a beating, but we can handle it financially, so that’s that…

Secondly, we’re enrolling our daughter into Pre-K and registrations fees were due in February. Sadly, I neglected to account for this at the beginning of the month. Again, a few adjustments to the budget fixed this problem.

Some Final Notes

As I mentioned in my previous post, I run a zero-based budget, which means two things:

  1. If I made a mistake and “discover” money during the month, I need to put it into the budget. I account (as a budgeted expense) for every last dollar and cent that is considered income.
  2. Sometimes, what I estimate at the beginning of the month is different than where it ends up at the end of the month. Yes, I still make mistakes. Ultimately though, I remain flexible and give myself the room to make changes.

If you make a mistake or a few, make the necessary adjustments and don’t dwell on it! Happy budgeting!

My February 2014 Budget

A budget is the cornerstone of personal finance. To be able to pay off debt… or to save… or to have money to have fun with… you need a budget! For years I thought that a budget would be a very restrictive thing. But using a budget has given me control over my finances.

I absolutely recommend that you create, use, and stick to a budget!

Some Notes About My Budgeting System

Here are some quick notes about the budget I show below.

  1. I live on last month’s income. This prevents me from living paycheck-to-paycheck. The income I listed below was actually earned in January, but I didn’t budget it until now, in February.
  2. I run a zero-based budget. This means that I budget every dollar and every cent into some category. No money is left over (budget wise, not checking account wise).
  3. I have several payroll deductions from my primary income. Expenses like medical premium, vision premium, and group life insurance are not included in the table below. Also, my 401(k) savings is automatically deducted from my paycheck and not shown below.
  4. We use two joint checking accounts and one Health Savings Account. One checking account is strictly for savings (retirement, emergency fund, and college). This checking account holds money temporarily until it distributed to other savings account. After deductions, roughly half of my paycheck is directed into this checking account.
  5. A small portion of my primary paycheck goes into the Health Savings Account.
  6. The remaining portion of my primary paycheck goes into the second checking account, which is used for our day-to-day spending and bills. All of our other income also goes into the day-to-day checking account.
  7. The budget below breaks out my household’s day-to-day checking account and Health Savings Account, while keeping the, umm, “savings” checking account out of sight, out of mind.
  8. Lastly and most importantly: Even though this is what I have budgeted for February at the start of the month, I give myself the flexibility to move money from one budget category to another. What is budgeted at the end February is likely to be different.

My Actual Income for February 2014 (Earned in January 2014)

Let’s first take a look at my household income. I live on last month’s income, so this is actual money already earned (well, most of it is earned).

Income Source Description Amount
His Income #1 The breadwinner. Accounts for more than 75% of our household income. $2,284.09
His Income #2 My side hustle(s). Currently, just tutoring (didn’t earn any money in January). Hopefully, more side hustles to come! $0.00
Her Income #1 The wife doesn’t have a full-time job. This is from her wedding planning part-time job. $485.00
Her Income #2 She also watches two kids in the morning and afternoon. $275.00
ESPP Income Actually, in a convoluted way, comes from my primary income. I sell my ESPP stocks for more than $9,000 every 6 months. I “pay” myself $1,500 every month. $1,500.00
Other Income Interest, dividends, “free” company contributions to HSA. $388.82
Total Income Money, money, money…!!! $4,932.91

Again, this is what comes into our Health Saving Account and primary checking account.

My Budgeted Expenses for February 2014

From the income listed above, this is how I have budgeted for my expenses.

Category Description Budgeted Percentage
Charity Really, just our tithes for now. Seems disproportionate to our take-home income but is 10% of our gross. $800.00 16.2%
Child Care Day care (mostly; day care is expensive!), baby/toddler supplies (small portion of budget). $865.46 17.5%
Food Groceries, restaurants. $431.67 8.8%
Gifts Birthdays, Christmas, etc. (Umm, Valentine’s Day… oops, forgot about this!) $0.00 0.0%
Health & Fitness Medicines, prescriptions, office visits, gym memberships. $352.91 7.2%
Housing Mortgage, insurance, pest control, maintenance, repairs. $1,231.86 25.0%
Miscellaneous Ah, the miscellaneous bucket. Includes allowance for the kids and “his and hers” spending cash. $46.50 0.9%
Personal Clothing, hair care, financial planning, life insurance, taxes, organizational dues. $132.46 2.7%
Recreation General entertainment, birthday parties, kid’s activities, vacation. $46.31 0.9%
Savings College, emergency fund, retirement… above and beyond automatic deposits into the dedicated (separate) checking account. $0.00 0.0%
Transportation Insurance, gasoline, license, registration, maintenance, repairs, car replacement. $698.23 14.2%
Utilities Cell phone, electricity, TV, Internet, water, sewer. $327.51 6.6%
Total Expenses  The whole shebang… $4,932.91 100.0%

Some Final Notes

I am debt free (other than my mortgage) and have been for several months. I also have 6 months of expenses in an emergency fund. Currently, I am saving for retirement and for my kid’s college.

Are You an Electricity Hog?

Or more specifically, am I an electricity hog?

I read this article yesterday on Bargaineering. I complemented the author on her electricity usage. For her latest bill, she used an incredibly low 4.8 kWh/day. The article got me thinking: “How to I compare with others on electricity usage?”

Some National Averages

According to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) (FAQs link):

In 2012, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,837 kWh, an average of 903 kilowatthours (kWh) per month. Louisiana had the highest annual consumption at 15,046 kWh and Maine the lowest at 6,367 kWh.

The EIA also provides monthly electricity updates. In the latest issue, the average monthly residential bill is $107.28 (for 2012).

State-by-state, New Mexico had the lowest average monthly bill in 2012 at $74.62. The highest was Hawaii at $203.15, due to its high cost per kWh, which is roughly three times as much as the typical cost per kWh. The second highest was Alabama at $135.26.

How Does My Household Compare?

For the past 5 years, I have averaged 38.7 kWh/day. This has been fairly typical for the 5 years, with no specific trends upwards or downwards (on 12-month rolling averages). Of course, my usage goes up and down seasonally.

This 38.7 kWh/day average is 14,132 annually. This is 30% higher than the national average.

Although I will say this is lower than the Louisiana number of 15,046 (6% lower). Umm, let’s just say that this is relevant… somehow. 😉

Over the past 12 months, my highest electricity bill was $147.86, and the lowest was $74.43. The average was $107.89. This is almost the exact same as the national average of $107.28.

So, I guess I’m pretty average… 🙂

I’m Not a Statistician

I don’t want to misinterpret the EIA’s data and how they compare to my household’s. But, it appears to be that I am particularly average when it comes to average monthly bills. And given my location, I am also average on my kWh usage.

I suppose that I don’t feel too bad about being an electricity hog, since I seemingly represent a fairly typical residential consumer.

How about you? Are you a hog?