This summer has been terrible for our finances. We haven’t had any income since May. Thankfully, our bills were drastically reduced for the first, oh, 6 weeks of summer while we stayed with Tony’s family. But we still had car insurance, health insurance, student loan payments, my health insurance deductible, and other expenses.
We moved into our own place in the middle of July, and ever since then we’ve been hemorrhaging money from our savings account. I try to remind myself that this is why we saved. We knew moving was going to be hard, and that Tony wouldn’t start work until August. And of course, when you start a new job, it’s always a few weeks before you receive your first paycheck.
Tony is scheduled to be paid for the first time today, and this month marks the first when we’ll be utilizing our new budget. Up until now, the name of the game has been Spend as Little as Humanly Possible, but I didn’t create a zero-based budget because we didn’t have a monthly income.
When Tony was first offered his adjunct teaching position, his salary wasn’t going to be enough to cover even our bare bones expenses. But they offered him additional classes (he’s now teaching 6), and the extra income took us barely over the edge. Thankfully, they’ve already offered him 6 classes for the spring semester, too, so we know we’ll be set until May. I’ve spent a lot of time crunching numbers, and it looks like we should be able to hang on to our savings if we can keep our budget very tight.
Unfortunately, there’s no room in our regular budget for savings. However, our regular budget is based only on my husband’s income. Any income I make through freelance work or blogging will be reserved for savings. So we’re hoping to replenish the $2,000 we spent from our emergency fund over the summer.
Our new monthly income is about 1/3 lower than our previous combined income. Our monthly savings budget took the biggest hit since we’re no longer including it in our regular budget (for now). But there are other shifting expenses. Our rent is much lower here, but we’re now paying about $500 a month for health insurance (and that will go up when the baby comes. Ugh.) We’re also spending money here and there buying things for the baby (diapers, clothing, etc.)
With new expenses and lower income, we’re trying to make major changes to our spending habits. Here are the biggest changes:
I’ve jumped onto the drugstore game, and I’m doing pretty well. Unfortunately, my pregnancy has wreaked havoc on our food bill. When I go to the grocery store, I end up with tons of extra food in the cart. When I send my husband alone, our bill is lower, but I spend the week feeling like I’m starving and there’s not enough food. Sometimes I even send him out to pick things up. Harumph. I’m not sure how to get around it. I was never a big snacker before I got pregnant, but now it seems I need several snacks a day. And snacks are expensive. Hopefully my drugstore deals are offsetting our overspending on groceries. I’ll have to wait until the end of a full budget cycle to know for sure.
We’ve cut cable and most entertainment spending from our bill for now. I haven’t missed going out much since most days I don’t feel well enough to do anything but lay on the couch anyway. Now that we’re living in a smaller town, we’re also not tempted by recreational shopping trips that result in $50 worth of stuff from Target that we don’t need, and that definitely helps.
This apartment is much more energy efficient than our last place. So we’re saving money on our electric bill without even trying. Yay! We tend to keep our place cooler by default, so I’m anticipating lower energy use in the cooler months — at least until December when the baby arrives.
Our goal is to make it through the year with our emergency fund intact. The really ambitious goal is to replenish what we’ve spent and save a little more on top of that. We’re still working on cutting our spending to free up more money for savings. I’ll let you know how it goes!