My husband and I have been “saving for a house.” I put this in quotes because while that was our biggest post-wedding goal, we’ve noticed that our savings really hasn’t gone up in the past couple of months. I’ll admit that as the one who is normally the budgeting nerd, I have done a pretty poor job of tracking our expenses lately. I’ll go ahead and blame it on job stress (more about that at a later date), which is partially true. I found that most days, I was so wiped out by the time I got home from work that I didn’t want to look at anything. I wanted to buy clothes, or pretty things for our house, or go out to eat.
Then I looked at our savings account.
While we had been doing a great job of saving up, that progress had more or less come to a standstill, which was very confusing to us. “But we don’t spend that much”, we said to ourselves, “so who has stolen all of our money?!”
Then I took a look at our joint account and my credit card account, just for the past month (6/14/14-7/14/14). I started writing down all of the non-bill, non-grocery expenditures…and I. Was. Floored.
No one stole our money (shocker). WE SPENT ALL OF IT. I am absolutely kicking myself, because I just think about how much closer we would be to our goal if we would have just stuck to our budget. Here’s a breakdown of what we did (note: this does not include anything that my husband put on his credit card. That’s where his “spending money” goes each month, with a portion of our income going towards paying it off.)
I would like to point out that my husband is a fantastic home brewer, and we always have 2 beers on tap at home. The alcohol expenditures above were wine and rum–not really necessary for those trying to save for a home. That could have easily been cut in half, if not more.
Ahem. I think we found our problem. This doesn’t even count dining out expenses that were put on my husband’s credit card. What’s sad is that this is much more than our grocery budget for the entire month. Do you know how much awesome food we could cook for $417.23? We’d eat like royalty, I tell you.
I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with dining out, but within reason. A lot of these were going out with friends or co-workers, and a few were some very necessary trips to get frozen yogurt (IT WAS SO HOT HERE. Really, it gets hot in Buffalo for at least a week each year). There are definitely a few things that we could have done to cut this expense down drastically:
- Buy ice cream or frozen yogurt at the grocery store ($11 for one trip to the frozen yogurt place? Really??)
- Stick w/ one drink per meal, or don’t order alcohol at all (it has the highest markup of any item at a restaurant!)
- Do a better job of planning meals ahead of time and having some meals already made and frozen for the nights when we’re too tired to cook
- Invite friends over for dinner, brunch, etc.–or just say ‘no’ to going out if it’ll put us over budget (which is really hard to do, I know)
Because we rent, this isn’t an area that we normally spend a lot of money on. We both just started working from home, though, and most of the home improvement expenses for the past month went towards setting up an office for my husband. Ideally what we should have done is to have taken a chunk out of his normal spending money for the month to put towards at least some of this, rather than using money that we could have put into our savings.
Right away, four big expenses stand out: Brewers Festival tickets, haircut, massage, and Emeals annual subscription. There are still a handful of other expenses, though, that helped to push this category up to almost $400. What could we have done differently?
- The Brewers Festival includes a concert, and it’s something that we’re going to with my husband’s parents, so we probably would have gone to that regardless. However, we could have saved some of each of our spending money over 2-3 months to cover the cost, instead of having it all come out of one month.
- Emeals is actually worth the cost IF WE USE IT. Cooking at home = worth it (you receive a week’s worth of recipes ahead of time, and a lot of those meals share ingredients, so it saves money on groceries).
- I’m in between with the haircut–the $52 included the tip and I love the salon I go to (also, I am terrible about going regularly and usually only get my hair cut 2-3 times a year). I could have waited to get a massage, though, until it fit within my spending money budget.
- I don’t even remember what half of the other expenses (Target, Marshalls) were. Some of them were gifts, which, with better planning, is a more controllable cost.
So there you have it, friends. This is why we haven’t bought a house yet. We’ve stolen money from ourselves to do things that make us happy in the short-term, rather than focusing on the long-term goal of buying a house. WE WILL NOT BE DEFEATED (by ourselves), though. Back to the budget we go (and that credit card is coming out of my wallet)!