I’ll just go out and say it. We spent a lot of money in July. Too much money. More money than what I thought we could possibly spend (other than the month that we bought our Subaru Forester).

July 2019 brought us some fun things. We each got new phones. We also bought a new mattress. And we made changes to our retirement. As a debt free millennial for the past five years, it is incredible to see what we can do in our finances. That’s one of the best reasons why I love living debt free. I don’t have to look at payment amounts. All I ask myself is, “How much?” and determine when it makes financial sense to make said purchase. Here are the highlights from our July 2019 Beers & Budgeting meeting.

We spent $9,346.63

Gulp. This is easily one of our biggest months of spending yet. There are three major expenses that make up the bulk of this amount. First, our rent continues to be the highest recurring monthly expense. It comes in at a whopping $2,755 per month. It will only continue to climb as long as we stay in San Diego and stay in our current residence. We hope our landlord will find it in their hearts to keep the rent at bay at our next lease term.

We bought new phones

Secondly, we spent $1,076.42 on a new iPhone Xs for me. I had an iPhone 6 for more than three years. I found that I couldn’t use my phone for extended periods of time without carrying around a portable charger.

Kyle also bought a new Samsung Galaxy S10 but we ended up going with a lease option. Before you knock us and say, “That’s not debt free,” we are saving $20/month on the total cost of the phone and then purchasing the phone outright at the end of 18 months. There is no interest associated with this plan. The one thing that has made this plan painful is that they did not get our plan correct the first time. I’ll spare you the details but dealing with Sprint has me reconsidering my 15+ year customer loyalty.

We bought a new mattress

Lastly, we bought a new mattress. We upgraded from a queen to a king which meant we needed to buy a new bed frame, sheets, and mattress pad. I ended up selling my old mattress on OfferUp for $80 and blessed a girl and her two-year-old son. I’m so thankful for that!

Contributions to my IRAs are cancelled

I recently finished reading The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins which helped me determine the best course of action for our retirement. We aren’t necessarily focused on FIRE (though I’d love to achieve this one day) but we are focused on being strategic as possible with our retirement.

So, we went back to Kyle’s Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and upped the ante. We are now contributing $450 of pre-tax dollars per paycheck towards his TSP. That ends up being $11,700 per year that we are contributing to his retirement. At the time of this post, 401(k) contribution limits are $19,000 for 2019. That means we really need to focus on increasing our contributions by another $7,300 per year.

Running totals + the “Everything and the Kitchen Sink” fund

The running totals tab that I built into my budget spreadsheet has significantly helped us! I can easily see how much money we have set aside for each category. I don’t do this for every category, but I like rolling over unused money into the next month.

Any unused money gets saved in my “Everything and the Kitchen Sink” savings account with Ally. I keep it in a separate savings account so I don’t accidentally spend that money in my checking account. It also helps me earn interest, but Ally recently decreased the interest rate to 1.9% which I’m a little bummed about. I want 2%!

Here are the categories that I keep in the “Everything and the Kitchen Sink” savings account:

  • Alcohol
  • Taxes
  • Car maintenance (repairs, insurance, tags)
  • Insurance (jewelry and renters)
  • Clothing
  • Apartment decor
  • Gifts
  • Fun money
  • Shopping
  • Memberships (San Diego Zoo, Amazon Prime, Chase)
  • Miscellaneous

There were four trips taken in July

July was a big month for travel, too. At the beginning of the month, we ventured to Nebraska to visit Kyle’s family. This ended up being more wallet-friendly since we stayed with family and kept our restaurant spending to a minimum.

I ended up going to Colorado with my mom in the middle of the month. It was so beautiful! We stayed at a family cabin for free which meant I didn’t have to spend any money on accommodations. Kyle also visited his grandmother in Kansas at the same time.

Then we ended the month with another trip back to Nebraska. This time, we celebrated friends and had a Zeta Psi reunion with Kyle’s fraternity brothers and their significant others. It was so fun!

In addition, we booked a trip to Dallas for the end of December and ironing out some details for a Chicago trip we are taking later this year. I’ll say it again: traveling is one thing I am okay spending money on! The memories and experiences are priceless. 

What the big money goals are for the rest of the year

There are a lot of things we try to save and this can trip up a lot of people. Without a clear goal amount and date to hit that goal, you will constantly be in limbo. So, we try to make reasonable goals and then adjust as needs arise.

Goal #1: Save for a down payment. Our initial goal was $60,000 but we ended up hitting that earlier this year so we increased the amount to $70,000. The plan is to continue to contribute to this goal until we are ready to buy a home. I am hoping we can do this within the next two years.

Goal #2: Save for a second car. It’s not frugal, but Kyle is obsessed with Jeep Wranglers. We test drove one in Colorado and we both fell in love with it! But Wranglers are not cheap. The kind that we want is roughly $30,000. Keyword: *want.*

Goal #3: Continue to fund the vacation savings account. There is the potential for a big international trip coming up soon. If Kyle gets approved for work travel, we could be taking a trip overseas! Follow me on YouTube to keep updated on the details.

The pros

  • I was significantly under budget on my grocery spending! I spent $398.57 out of my $475 monthly budget.
  • Miraculously, we stayed under budget for restaurants, despite spending $150 at one restaurant this month. I am shocked!
  • The leftover money from the May budget completely cashflowed the cost of the new mattress and new phone.

The cons

  • Even though we had the cash, this ended up being a big spending month which feels a little overwhelming.
  • $111 was spent on alcohol which feels like a lot! However, the running total still shows $71 leftover.

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Learn How to Pay Off Debt By Putting A Budget In Place

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