If you’re a regular reader, you might remember that one month ago today I issued a badassity challenge to my family. For July, August and September, we’re going gazelle intense with our budget. We’ve got several big expenses coming up the next few months, and I want to be able to pay them in cash even on our tight budget. Despite our debt payoff progress, our DTI (debt-to-income ratio) is still pretty high so this is a challenge, but I’m convinced we can get it done.
Our First Month
Being gazelle intense was not without its challenges. First I’ll share the breakdown of how we did, and then I’ll share our challenges.
Our average monthly grocery bill for our family of six for the first six months of the year is $473.89. In July, for the challenge, we spent $382.60.
The average gasoline bill for my truck for the first six months of the year was $135.60. In July I spent $142.73. While this may seem like a fail, it’s actually a success. Our budget for gas for me monthly is $150, and our gas expenditures always go up in the summer due to increased gatherings, etc.
For instance, let’s take a look at our previous three years of July gas usage:
- July 2015: $277.51
- July 2014: 180.65
- July 2013: $289.01
So, the fact that I came in under budget for the month – and way under budget compared to our usual July numbers – is a huge success, in my humble opinion. 🙂
True to our goal, we spent ZERO on entertainment this month. No eating out. No movies. No trips to the ice cream shop.
We spent lots of time at the local beach and just hanging out at home. We really do love eating out, but restaurant purchases can really add up quickly for a big family, and all of us agreed as we drove past a popular local upscale burger place after church yesterday that we were glad we didn’t spend any of our money on restaurants this month.The results were worth the sacrifice.
Because of our ultra frugal spending, we were able to pay cash for our $678 hay purchase this month – YAY!!!! It felt good writing that check knowing that we had the money in the bank for our first big summer expenditure.
Our challenge with debt payoff continues to be unexpected/unplanned for expenses, and of course we have them each month. It’s not that we can’t pay cash for them, it’s just that in my world where I have a perfect budget each month, they really get in the way. For instance, we spent nearly $90 on new brakes for my truck this month. Rick installed them himself so we saved a ton of cash there, but when you’re living on a tight budget ninety bucks is a big chunk of cash.
We also had to spend $46 to replace our refrigerator handle that broke. $46!!! I shopped around to get the lowest price and free shipping and that was it. For a piece of plastic!
Nothing major, obviously, but that’s money that I didn’t want to spend and hadn’t planned on spending, which always annoys me. I think I just need to accept the fact that each month will likely have some unexpected expenses during the month. In that vein, I put a $100 “misc” spot in our budget for August. 🙂
For month two of our gazelle intense challenge we’ll proceed status quo: keep a lid on grocery and gas expenditures, no entertainment expenditures. Rick does have a summer vacation week coming up off of work; usually we budget in $500-$700 for doing things around town during the summer – we’re keeping that but lowering it down to $250 in the name of gazelle intensity. Some might think that we should cut it altogether, but since we’re not taking any kind of annual vacation and we really want to take advantage of doing some of this stuff with our growing-up-way-too-quickly children, we’re keeping the summer fun budget but just cutting it by a half to two-thirds. We feel this is a good balance for our family.
How did you do on your July budget? What are your current financial goals and how are you doing at achieving them?
*Photo credit: Joseph Echeverria