Hi Pocketchangers, and welcome back to another update on our journey to FIRE. In my last post, I wrote that we were planning a family budget meeting for this next week. Well… that hasn’t happened yet because I’ve been playing catch up with our budget categories in Mint. But, I’m
procrastinating taking a short break from that to write up a post about a budget evaluation I’m working on so I thought I’d bring you along!
We’ve recommended several budgeting tools in the past and will continue to do so going forward. For a quick peek at our recommendations, head over to Our Picks! Enter Mint – an Intuit product that is ‘free’ because it doesn’t cost money. However, like most websites (including Pocket Change Lifestyle) you’ll see an ad here or there. I bring it up now because it’s going to help us out in a minute.
If you have a budgeting app or process you can’t live without – share with us! We’re always open to new ideas and feedback!
Let’s Get Down to Business
Sweet – I definitely have the Mulan song stuck in your head now because it’s totally stuck in mine. I found (dare I say) a pretty cool remix of this song provided for your convenience below. Give it a listen and hopefully it’ll help get it out of your head!
Alright, back to real life. YouTube is fun, but finances are too right?! Right?! Okay, let’s push forward. This year has been quite a wild ride already from a financial standpoint for the Pocketchange family. I’ve needed some time to process all that has gone on this year, and tonight was perfect. As I processed our transactions and budget categories this evening, I realized that March had three paychecks. Three paychecks = extra cash, but our extra cash was mysteriously missing! What in the world?!
Quick Tip: If you get paid biweekly, months that have 3 pay periods means you should have some extra cash on hand!
The low checking account balance we had meant something was off so I took a look through Mint. Since it aggregates all of our connected accounts (Chase, Ally, Capital One, etc.) I can scroll through the transaction list and pick out odd or non-budget items rather quickly for review. Here’s the list of items I found in the past few months that we consider ‘unexpected’ items:
As you can see, we’ve had several unexpected or out-of-budget expenses including bills for Baby Pocketchange. Already costing us money! Thankfully, we’ve been able to keep up with the expenses due to the ‘extra’ paycheck in March to avoid going into debt needlessly, but this also accounts for just about all of that missing cash. Doing an in-depth analysis of our transactions gave me some feedback on several changes we need to make as a family as we move forward.
EVALUATION AND GROWTH
Our budget has slightly been out of control. Gasp! Not us! Yes, as you can see from that sticky note above, we’ve had several unexpected or unusual expenses. In addition, our grocery budget is growing right alongside Baby Pocketchange. Mrs. Pocketchange has acquired a taste for some yummy snacks, but she *needs* them to keep going throughout the day. This combination of unexpected expenses and changes means its evaluation time for our entire budget.
We’ve quickly discussed tonight that we need to add the tree trimming budget item since we’ll be paying that for a few more months. We also decided that we’ll need to reconvene more often, so more family budget meetings are in our immediate future! In the next post, I’ll share more details about the budget we’ve settled on (a few last pieces of the puzzle to be figured out) but for now, here’s our budget subtotal:
As we look to the future this subtotal is – absolutely scary.
Scary for several reasons. We like food. Our food budget is often over what we plan, but we’ll have to be even more responsible and make better decisions. In addition, we need to better plan out these unexpected expenses so they don’t accrue all in one month if possible.
Of course, moving from two incomes to one will drastically change our already slow march towards FIRE, not to mention change our FI goals. Armed with wisdom and the desire to be good stewards of the resources God has blessed us with, we have identified a new goal:
Reduce our budget expenses to <$2,400 before September.
That’s the magic number and honestly, we’re already pretty close! If we can push our expenses below $2,400, we’re in the range to be able to ‘survive’ on one income. Yes, it’ll be hard, but we’ll make it work. We have no choice, but we’re also exploring other options available. I’m afraid it’s back to budgeting for me tonight friends, but I’m almost done!
Keep your chins up and keep pushing towards FIRE!