October was an odd month for me, with my wife and I taking a vacation to the Pacific Northwest, which is about a 3 and a 1/2 hour flight for us.
Considering the distance with flights, hotel, car, food and activities, we only spent $1,400 for a five day vacation. A lot of the activities that we did we were free outdoor activities like hiking or cheap local attractions like a fall festival. It really helped us keep our expenses down!
My wife and I also took separate trips for work during the third week of the month, so there were additional days our routines were thrown off/expenses were covered. This also influenced our food spending since we weren’t able to take big grocery shopping trips like we normally do.
Even though we felt we went on a very affordable vacation, we did a lot in October that we are going to need to learn from!
Goals for October included:
- Tracking our food expenses – Check! More details are below.
- $500 / day on vacation – Check for our day-to-day expenses, but there were some un-planned for taxes on the rental car which pushed our expenses up a bit.
- Put up crafts on my wife’s Etsy page – Check! She put up some fantastic bracelets she made and she’s learning more about Etsy marketing as we go.
- Shift $600 to savings: Nope. Unfortunately we didn’t do this, as we just kept extra money in our checking account for the month. That’s one of the things we really need to get better at is actually transferring money from checking to savings as opposed to keeping the extra so accessible.
Normally we don’t put much on our credit cards, but we used it for booking our travel in October which is why it was higher. We also used it on our vacation because it was the cheapest way to pay in another country.
What are our other takeaways?
- Gas: We actually budgeted very well for our gas. We only spent $120.
- Savings: We were lucky enough to not have to dip into our actual savings for vacation, but we do have that “savings” money actually earmarked to pay for the rest of our vacation expenses.
- Food: Uh oh. I can’t believe it. $400 for food for a two person, one dog household seems reasonable (if not a little much) for me. But we spent $808 on food and groceries for the month.My goodness.Safe to say our budget & estimates were off.One of my October goals was to log each food purchase to have a more accurate assessment for just how much we spent. We had never done that before.
We typically don’t spend extra money on things like clothes or technology, but food is something we struggle with…apparently.
So after looking at our pantry, we’ll probably need two bigger grocery trips plus some extras here and there for November. We won’t be hosting Thanksgiving at our place so any food purchases there will be smaller.
Halving our food budget is what we’re going to work towards in November and most of that will come by eating out less (we went out a lot in October) and making a list when going to the store. That will help us properly plan out or meals and not buy anything that is unneeded.
Looking towards November, we will have $635 due for our credit card to cover the last bit of our vacation expenses. We’re also helping contribute money for family pictures that will be $175 in the beginning of the month.
We are also aiming to contribute$2,000 to savings for the month. This is higher than normal, but my wife earned about $1,000 more than normal in October because of our trip. We are certainly lucky to be in our situation, but my wife worked hard to earn that so props to her!
Other than that, there is not much out of the ordinary.
While I would love to be contributing more toward our student loans at the moment, we’re having to be patient as we build up our emergency fund. We’re about $8,600 short right now (we need around $13k) but as we get closer to our goal we’ll start diverting more toward our loans.
So what does our overall budget for the month look like?
Our electric bill could vary. We just recently were able to stop using our AC and might not need to use our heater for a while. This is our first winter in our house, so it’s just an estimate.
Other than electric, our biggest opportunities to save money day-to-day will be food and entertainment.
I also may need to go out and purchase some new shoes or injury treatment items as my foot has been giving me issues recently. Since I’m working up to a half marathon in January, making sure my foot is in good shape is a necessity for me.
You may notice that there are probably areas where I could improve my budget. Maybe I don’t need to spend so much on the Verizon bill or on cable/internet. Well, I still have a lot to learn and areas I can improve on. And as I find different ways to hack my budget, I will of course be sharing them with you!