Monthly Financial Update: October 2019

Can I pay in chocolate?

In December, when reviewing my finances for 2018, I mentioned my desire to look at them on a monthly basis in 2019. Justin and I spent a little too much in 2018 and let our finances get the best of us. Maybe by looking at our finances monthly (and let you guys/gals keep me in check), we will do better this year.

That's the goal anyway.

Here's month #10:

green - this year, yellow - last year

Last Year:
• We spent more on shopping, bills & utilities, auto & transport, personal care (Dîner En Blanc), fees & charges, and entertainment (tickets to see Trevor Noah and Annie Leibowitz).
• We spent less on food & dining (travel, this year), travel (New Orleans), gifts and shopping (Christmas gifts).

In September
• We spent more on Auto & transport, travel, and personal care (husband got his hair cut),
• We spent less on food & dining, shopping (new jeans for both me and my husband, new work shirts for husband, bills & utilities (rent went up), gifts & donations (started buying Christmas gifts), fees & charges (credit card renal price), and entertainment (museum tickets in New Orleans).

Where We Spent Our Money:

Top 10 Merchants:
1. French Lessons
2. Electricity
3. Gem of France (French store in New Orleans, bought a French knife for husband)
4. Costco (groceries, Christmas gifts)
5. Advance Auto Parts (oil change, car battery, rear brakes)
6. Starbucks
7. Alamo (car rental)
8. Trader Vic's (restaurant)
9. QuickTrip (gas)
10. Commander's Palace (restaurant in New Orleans)

Top 10 Categories:
1. Food & Dining (drinks & food in New Orleans with friends)
2. Shopping (new jeans for both, new tops for me, a dress that I returned but haven't gotten my money back yet for, books, Christmas gifts, French lessons)
3. Bills & Utilities
4. Auto & Transport
5. Travel
6. Gifts & Donations
7. Personal Care
8. Fees & Charges

9. Entertainment
10. Financial (life insurance)

Gas & Fuel – over
Groceries – under
✗ Restaurants – over
Hair Appointments – over
✗ Everything Else – over

Net Income:


student loans

credit cards

How Did I Do On My Financial Goals for October?
Start purchasing Christmas gifts!
Put 1-3 items on Poshmark to sell.
Cut restaurant spending … by at least a little?
Nail down destination for summer 2020 and start looking for flights/pinning down hotels. Look at rental car prices if that is our chosen method of transportation.
Decide what, if anything, we are doing for Christmas break.

* Loan Payoff Date 12/1/22
* Emergency Funds: $13,883

• 401K $46,170.176
• Credit Scores: 745 (Justin), 805, 808 (me)

Overview of the Biggest Impacts This Month:
1. travel to New Orleans
2. French lessons
3. car repairs
4. shopping (!!!)
5. bills went up

What went wrong this month?
1. Car battery died.
2. Brakes had to be replaced.
3. Spending too much while traveling.
4. Spending too much on a Christmas present (because I wanted it to be 'unique' and thoughtful)
5. Restaurant spending and shopping went up. 😬

What went right this month?
1. We spent less on groceries!
2. We started Christmas shopping.
3. We spent time with friends in New Orleans. (Positive in that we spent time with friends, negative in that it cost us to do so.)
4. I made a few online friends. (Didn't cost a thing!)
5. Got money back from a price adjustment!

Financial plans/goals for November?
1. Continue to reduce food spending in either restaurant or grocery category.
2. Go ahead and book a rental car for summer travel. I think I have general dates and can do so without it being an issue.
3. Ship Christmas gifts.
4. Buy a few more Christmas gifts. It would be great to be halfway done. BUT watch spending.

One of the great things about looking at my budget every month is that I am often reminded of expenses that I have forgotten about. For example, my car battery died early in the month and my husband handled it like a champ fixing it before it ever became an issue for me. We also paid for French lessons pretty early in the month, so it was easy to forget about. So, now, at the end of the month, when I see that our expenses are up, I know it's not just because we bought new jeans over the weekend. I'm able to see all of the little and big expenses that went into that increase of spending. 

Looking ahead to November, I know there will be an uptick in shopping if only because Christmas is on the horizon. (What happened to 2019?!) We have gifts to finish, gifts to ship, and I have clothes I am watching and waiting to go on sale. (A sweater, a skirt, a top, and a dress.)

It's interesting to think back over your purchases and see how unnecessary some expenses feel while yet others feel unnecessary but could pay off in the future. For example French lesson: I don't live in France, but maybe one day when I visit, I will be able to converse with the French. Or alternatively, maybe by studying another language, I will be encouraged to think differently about the world. Traveling with friends was expensive and could be seen as unnecessary but it also brought us together, at least for a long weekend. I believe one should always cherish the people in their life because you never know how long you will have with them.

So was October a bust for us? Perhaps. And then again, perhaps not. Either way, we will make an effort to do better in November.

Have you ever looked at your expenses and wondered: where'd that money go? I don't remember spending it!

What are your thoughts on seemingly unnecessary expenses? Do you agree with me that some are worthwhile even while continuing to be unnecessary?

What are your plans and goals for the Christmas holidays? Do you have a budget and a checklist? Or will you be winging it?

Financial Resolution Goals 2019

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