I’ll Show You Mine: 2018 Q3 expenses

If you want to take a peak into my monthly spending, this is the post for you! 2018  Q3 expenses were more than I had anticipated. Hopefully you can learn from this glimpse into my finances.

I previously posted on our Q1 and Q2 expenses, and I also shared how our current expenses compared to my spending during post-doc.

So here are the numbers for my family of 5’s actual expenses for Q3 of 2018.

Expense July Aug Sept Avg per month
Water 33.01 28.04 28.04 29.70
Electricity 114.48 182.81 153.24 150.18
Cell phones (2 lines) 70 70 70 70.00
Internet 71.98 71.98 71.98 71.98
Hulu 0 0 0 0.00
Food/Restaurant 508.47 419.39 359.07 428.98
Gasoline 60.26 87.37 77.37 75.00
Car ins/Registration 0 0 0 0.00
Car Repair 0 0 0 0.00
Home Improvements 89.87 2114.43 0 734.77
Medical 0 0 2203.17 734.39
Gifts/Entertainment 56.15 0 20 25.38
Kids Activities 0 180 269 149.67
Other 80.18 298.25 34 137.48

Income and Mortgage

Our only source of income is my salary as a clinical psychologist. My husband is a stay-at-home dad. We decided to not disclose my income, our mortgage, or the exact number we contribute to our retirement plans (because I am working, my husband can contribute to a Roth IRA).

But I will say that my mortgage is 18% of my gross income and 23% of my net income (after deductions for taxes and social security, retirement, HSA contributions, and insurance). Health insurance premium for the family plan through my employer is $136.78 per pay period ($3,556.28 per year).

This is better than the recommended amount that housing be ≤ 25% of income.

Water

Averaged $29.70. This is an underestimation as the water company appeared to have not read our meter in September. We re-sodded our front lawn and have started watering it daily. I already received the bill for Oct, so I know for a face that the average will be much higher next quarter.

Electricity (we do not have natural gas)

This is our one bright spot! We averaged $150.18 during summer months. This is the lowest it’s been in the past 6 years!

We recently posted about  electricity saving tips. While doing our research for that post, we came across a tip that was new to us: washing clothes in cold water. I attribute this recent change to a good proportion of our savings.

Cell phone

We continue to use a pre-paid cell service. It costs $40 per line ($35 each with a family plan). We’ve used them for years now and I haven’t had any problems. I love that there is no contract or hidden fees.

A friend was asking me about my service. I use MetroPCS. They now support Apple phones. You can either buy one through them (they sell an iPhone 7 for $469) or use your existing phone through their “Bring Your Own Device program.”

I have a Samsung smartphone. I mentioned before about the 9-year-old boy who lectured me about how his Apple phone was better than my non-Apple phone.

Let me tell you about my cell phone. It fell out of my pocket on a moving tram and busted apart. The battery had a good case of road rash, but it still worked (and the screen didn’t even crack). Not long after, my phone fell in a toilet. You’d think with the damaged battery it would have exploded or something. But no, years later it still works. And I don’t even have a cell phone case!

I’m sure Apple phones are nice. My smart phone cost less than $100. It has taken a beating without a crack (even without a case), doesn’t slow down with updates, and it does almost anything an Apple phone can do.

By the way, my husband has the Windows phone he got when we switched from our major carrier to the pre-paid plan over 5 years ago (they don’t even make those phones any more and his is still working fine).

Internet

Cost is $71.98 per month. Does anyone know of a lower-cost plan that does not have a contract?

Hulu

We canceled this in May. You know how I hate recurrent monthly payments! I don’t miss it.

Food

We averaged $428.98 per month for a family of five! That’s well within our goal of $100 per person per month for food.

This category includes our groceries, diapers (which I stocked up on during tax-free week) and wipes, dog food, laundry and dish detergents, hygiene products, and other household goods. It also includes eating out, which we did a lot in recent months (see our restaurant saving tips).

Gasoline

Averaged $75. That’s not too bad for the highest summer gas prices since 2014, but of course I would have liked for it to have been lower. My husband is a stay-at-home dad, so we only have one commuter. See our tips for saving money on gas.

Car Insurance

We pay every six months, which saves over $200 per year compared to paying monthly. Next bill will be due in December.

Car Registration

We pay at the end of year.

Car Repairs

$0. Not bad for driving 14- and 12-year-old (paid-off) vehicles.

Home improvements

After learning that my co-worker has a patient stalking her, I made some improvements to our home security. Read more about that story here.

Our HOA was sending us (and our neighbors) letters about our grass. We replaced it ourselves for $240 (which was substantially less than the $2,000 our neighbors paid to hire someone to replace theirs), but was still more money that we were not planning to spend. And a lot of work!

I also purchased a new couch to replace our 20 year old hand-me-down couch, and created living wall features (hanging pots with succulents) on my previously bare walls. (For this story, read Guess What Happened When I Met the Joneses.)

There were also trips to the home improvement store for miscellaneous items (e.g., pool salt, air filters, water filters).

Medical

In the USA, $2,203.17 is the price of three stiches for a child’s chin. I have a high deductible health insurance plan (HDHP), so I was responsible for this entire amount. I paid using my health savings account (HSA).

Open enrollment season is almost here, and I plan to keep my HDHP and HSA. You can read more about which benefits to sign up for at work.

Gifts/Entertainment

In our previous post, this category included kids’ activities. Because they are doing more this year, I have decided to make kids activities a separate category. We did spend some money in gifts. But we experimented with finding free entertainment this year.

Kids’ Activities

Swim lessons ($100), swim team ($80 per month), gymnastics ($54), and Scouts ($135).

Other

I spent way more than I had budgeted for back-to-school shopping. There were also lots of other small school costs that add up (e.g., spirit shirt, math workbook, music instrument, PTA membership).

My work also interviewed a number of potential staff members, and I paid for my portion of lunch each of those days (those lunches cost more than I would have spent had I gone out to eat with my co-workers, which is why I did not include this under my food budget).

How did we do this quarter?

Expense Q1 total Q2 total Q3 total Avg per Q
Water 99.41 93.69 89.09 94.06
Electricity 338.07 307.62 450.53 365.41
Cell Phones (2 lines) 210.00 210.00 210.00 210.00
Internet 215.94 215.94 215.94 215.94
Hulu 40.62 13.54 0.00 18.05
Food/Restaurant 1143.26 1285.02 1286.93 1238.40
Gasoline 107.57 164.01 225.00 165.53
Car ins/Registration 706.80 640.00 0.00 448.93
Car Repair 0.00 101.93 0.00 33.98
Home Improvement 580.60 374.13 2204.30 1053.01
Medical 21.80 0.00 2203.17 741.66
Gifts/Entertainment 415.86* 179.30* 76.15* 223.77*
Kids’ Activities 0.00* 0.00* 449.00* 149.67*
Other 25.96 74.08 412.43 170.82

*Kids’ activities were included under Gifts/Entertainment for Q1 & Q2.

Worse

We spent more money on electricity (as expected with the A/C running over the summer), gasoline, medical (trip to the ER for stiches), home improvement, kids’ activities, and other (back to school).

Better

We spent less on streaming TV and transportation costs.

(As I mentioned, the city did not read our water meter in September, so our water costs were grossly underestimated).

About the same

Grocery costs were similar to Q2 (and slightly higher than Q1). Most other costs are fixed (e.g., internet, phone).

 

After seeing this glimpse into my life, how do my expenses compare to yours?

 

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