Now that we’ve finally gotten a hold of our finances I’m feeling pretty good about where we stand and where our savings goals will take us this year. Last month we switched things up a bit and decided to use our debit card for most of our purchases and save the credit card for reimbursements or automatic bill payments. I think this worked out really well for us because we didn’t have to continue to pay off our credit card every so often (or even have to do math) to get a picture of where we stood financially. As I mentioned in my Thirsty Thursday post, we did end up spending much more in our eating out and bars category because I had a friend in town – about $200 total. It’s more than I would have wanted to spend, but also less than we had been spending before we decided to start saving and paying off our loans. However, we did still manage to save around $583 even after paying for recruitment activities and booking an Air BnB for a wedding we’re going to in October. I also tend to forget that every month we put away $240 to pay off our quarterly tuition as well as our electric bill, and we also paid $250 towards our loans at the beginning of the month. If you add that all up we ended up squirreling away $1,073!
We’re nearing my goal of saving 25% of our take home income, and I think a few things helped us out with that this month:
1. We started tracking our finances. It’s the same thing they tell you to do when you’re losing weight and it turns out it works well for saving money too. Tracking our finances gave us a great picture of where our money leaks were, how much we spent on needs vs. wants, and where we could aim to cut back. The majority of our extra spending revolves around eating out or going to bars, and by choosing to skip a few dinners out, make our lunches, and bring coffee from home we saw a much bigger improvement in our spending than I initially expected.
2. We made a commitment to reduce spending. In general we still love to eat our (our major budget buster) and going to happy hours after work. By no means did we cut that out entirely, but we usually checked in with each other when we wanted to spend money. If it wasn’t worth it we skipped those events, or decided to make dinner at home instead of grabbing a quick bite to eat. The mere fact of having a shared money goal has helped us tremendously.
A few of our budget goals were broken this month. We spent way too much money on groceries, gas, and coffee shops. Groceries definitely took a huge hit thanks to the Valentine’s day dinner I made. Gathering together all of the food I needed for that meal certainly wasn’t cheap. This month I’m sure we can cut back on all three of those categories by planning ahead and being more deliberate in eating at home without wasting food. This weekend I am going to do some major inventory of our pantry and start meal planning more thoroughly. Right now we do a pretty good job of using up most of our groceries throughout the week, but still have a lot of non-perishable food left in our cupboards that we can scrape together for a few meals a week. If you’re interested in cutting down food waste I highly recommend checking out C’s progress over at The Single Dollar. She made a commitment for zero food waste in 2015 and is a great inspiration!
March should be a good month for us. We’ll be getting back reimbursements for work related events and also receiving our tax refund. I’d love to save even more and apply a larger amount towards loans and also start bulking up our regular savings. A few goals this month include investing in an exchange traded fund (ETF), paying down more loans, limiting our gas, groceries, and coffee spending, hiking in the great outdoors, and learning to meal plan even more so than I do now.
What did your February look like? Any fun or exciting plans for March?