February Spending and Looking Toward Spring

The header photo sums up my feelings about this time of year….grey and more grey and cold that just lingers.

February spending was quite a jump after my Uber Frugal awesomeness in January. As usual for me, the bulk of discretionary spending was on gatherings with friends and family, with which I’m more than ok.

After some loose price comparing for a couple of months between Costco, Aldi, and my neighborhood store, I think I need to limit Costco purchases to dog food, white vinegar for cleaning, and medications. There’s not enough of a savings to justify driving otherwise, at least for now.

 

The spending:

I use YNAB for budgeting and tracking my spending. I average annual expenditures monthly, so occasional bills such as car insurance have money put aside all year. Thus, in months like this where I have smaller income I still have enough set aside to cover my expenses.

  • Fixed expenses: My electric bill was tiny – it’s normally on an averaged budget plan of $109. Cell phone data usage was down a bit – if we’re not traveling, we should be able to keep this under $30/month for 2 smartphones.
  • Groceries $259: The end of this month once again saw hungry post-teenagers for the week. I love that my son’s school has more weeklong breaks than most universities, but it doesn’t make for uber cheap food spending as the two meals that would carry me through the week last, oh, two meals 🙂
  • Pets $31: One bag of dog food.
  • Bikes $1: One postcard to enter a gravel race in May…. I haven’t decided yet whether it’s a terrible idea so haven’t spent the postage….
  • Gasoline $47: Down from last month! I’m on call a lot in March, though, so this might tick back up.
  • My spending $0: Still at zero for the year! My amazon cart is full of wishful not-needs but my wallet is pleased.
  • Family/Friend Fun $115: Three tickets to a fundraiser/party/concert for 30 Days of Biking at our bike shop. One dinner out at my son’s girlfriend’s workplace which has become our first-night-home tradition. This dinner was $10 less than usual because I skipped the wine.
  • Everything Else $405: $80 annual professional dues, $40 professional CE workshop, $27 tax preparation/filing, $121 outlet boxes and switches to replace two circuit’s worth after a short inside one of the boxes (!), $30 spring seed order, $107 medical copay and prescription.
  • Kiddo $207: All his groceries, spending money, and school-related/transportation expenses.

 

Overall I think February went well. Even though I know that my spending to income ratio in February and March are usually a little off because of smaller paychecks at the start of the year, historically I am WAY over budget in February and March – likely due to spending in an attempt to counter the apathy and fatigue of late winter. Having a frugal mindset has helped immensely this year, as is my drive to walk more places rather than drive – even in cold wind, the sunshine and air on my face makes me feel so much better at the end of the day.

I’m pretty impressed with my amateur electrical work. I had an electrical engineer available via phone if needed (my dad), but reading via Amazon’s preview of a Black and Decker electrical wiring book gave me enough information to do the relatively simple task of changing outlets. It proved quite addictive and I ended up doing two circuits and fixed a heat lamp in the bathroom.

I think I’ll have to meal plan more strictly once my son is home for the summer – as it is now I tend to treat his weeks home as holidays, and am probably spending more than necessary because we decide on meals as we go. They’re still inexpensive, but sticking to a plan has made such a dramatic difference when it’s just me I’m sure it would also show a positive budget effect when I’m cooking for son+friends regularly.

I am SO looking forward to starting seeds! It’s time for tomato starts and I plan to get them going this weekend. I need the scent of greenery and the bright light of the grow light 🙂

 

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2 thoughts on “February Spending and Looking Toward Spring”

  1. My Feb wasn’t as awesomely frugal as my Jan either. We were extraordinarily busy, which tends to coordinate with “spending more”. But March will be different. You’ve done GREAT on keeping your personal “you” spending at zero – woohoo! SO ready for spring here too. The gloom is getting overwhelming, although the warm weather is nice. 🙂

    1. I definitely spend more running around with busy teenagers, so I hear that! 🙂

      I was outside for three hours yesterday – it was so good to be out, even with the wind and the start of the rainstorm!

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