Tracking Our Dollars: Feb, 2014

Last month, when I thought that we were becoming an one-income family, we tightened our belts and watched carefully where our money was going. I knew that Luke's salary was enough to support our family, but I wanted to know how much we would be able to save. With both of us working currently, we tend to buy this and that without much of a thought, but with the potential of our income being cut by nearly 50%, we buckled down.

How much we spend differs from month to month, depending on when the big bills - insurance (life & car), taxes (omg...April is coming), Virginia529 contributions - occur. February happened to be a month of just regular monthly bills, so our overall spending was relatively small.

Because playing in Excel is my idea of a good time, I made this pie chart so I can see where our money went, visually:


Wowzers - our home accounts for almost 63% of our overall expense. In reality, though, this category could be less because we contribute an extra $1000 toward principle every month. We would not do this if we were on one income. Also, this month, we wrote a check for $485 to put in escrow.

Kids is our next major expense at 22%, which makes sense because Luke and I both work and we need someone to take care of the kids. Luke's mom has been doing us a big favor and I am grateful. This category also includes Anna's preschool tuition. If I stopped working, this category would go way down.

We budget $500 for food & dining a month. We came well under in February for a couple of reasons. One, it was a short month, only 28 days. And two, it was cold and snowy so it was easy to just stay home and cook. In warmer months when we go on outings, $500 is just enough. (Note - whatever is left at the end of the month gets rolled over to the next and I love that. February was a cheap month, but we will be hosting a birthday party for Anna in March and the food we buy for the party will come from here.)

Other than that, we were really good about not buying un-necessities. I stopped browsing deal sites, stayed off Amazon, and didn't buy a single piece of clothing for the kids.  Beyond the 3 major categories, the remaining 8% wasn't significant at all. I was really happy with everything.

But to answer my biggest questions of all, how much did we save and how much would we save on one income? I did more tweaking in Excel and came out with these percentages:

We saved 51% of our combined salary in February, but without my income (taken reduced childcare + making just regular mortgage payment into consideration), we would have saved 35% on Luke's salary alone.

A 16% difference! -- which isn't all that bad? Sure we wouldn't be able to pay off the house earlier, but still be able to tuck away a good chunk of our income is happy news to me. Of course I know that 35% is the best case scenario since, as I said, February tends to be a low-spending month for us. Either way, this was a good exercise and I might do it again for a more expensive month in the future.


  1. Kids are expensive! We are looking into daycare for the girls during the summer since my husband and I both work and wow, it's not cheap! Great job with your savings!

    1. Yes, now I finally understand why kids go to grandparents' in the summer!

  2. You are very precise, good job.

  3. I love having a handle on expenses but how do you spend $500 a month TOTAL for groceries + eating out?!?! Seriously? We budget $750 for groceries + $200 for eating out and we've already overspent these 2 months!! Help me!

    1. Hi Lisa! This is how we do it:

      - We rarely go out to eat and if we do, it's pho and $20 is enough to feed all of us. The kids eat the best here and we just stick with it. It's quick and it's ok for the kids to be a bit noisy.

      - We don't buy organic unless it's milk and yogurt and sometimes eggs. I use coupons for these.

      - We do a lot of shopping at the Asian grocery stores because they are cheaper.

      - We don't buy expensive meats (like steaks). I do buy salmon, though, but only when on sale at $6.99/lb.

      - My husband is pretty easy to feed/cook for. He will eat whatever and sometimes he doesn't even eat because he would already be full from lunches out (on company's dime). So when I cook, I really just focus on the kids and me and we don't have "manly" meals, which tend to be more expensive, IMO.

      - I pack my lunch to work, every day.

  4. It's all pointless. Once the tax man comes knockin, he's going to take his share and then some - F him and his AMT!


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