June Spending: Post-Vacation Amnesia and a Cracked Tooth

walking path in Washington Park, Portland OR

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 where I have smaller income I still have enough set aside to cover my expenses.

We’ll get right to it with self-analysis to follow 🙂

  • Fixed expenses $1245: My electric bill has been on an averaged budget plan of $109. We’re on a several-month streak of minimal or no charges! Cell phone bill was a little higher due to using data on vacation. City utilities are average. Internet is fiberoptic.
  • Repayment to my Past Self $1686: I set auto payments while I was gone, so it was easy peasy to keep up and not be tempted to “borrow” the extra to spend while on vacation!
  • Groceries $254 EEEEEGADS! This was for only 3 weeks! I can tell I didn’t take advantage of my extra day off after vacation to meal plan! There were a few cafeteria purchases as well, as I tried to readjust to my time zone and completely forgot my lunch a couple of days. 
  • Pets $344: Dog food, cat food, and the dog’s annual dental cleaning with antibiotics since he’s a very old guy 🙂 He kept all his remaining teeth this time, though!
  • Bikes $0
  • Auto Maintenance $234: The throttle sensor broke on our way home from vacation – just as we got back into the metro area, actually. Luckily for me, my frugal ninja college student knew that AutoZone lets you read the check engine light for free and prints out a report, and what do you know but we broke down literally right next to AutoZone! We managed to limp home at 20 mph, where my industrious kiddo then researched the part, purchased it, and installed it for me. $234 is for the part alone – I have a great shop that charges very fairly, but I’m assuming it would have been at least $500-600, more at the bigger shops around the city. The fact I already try to bicycle commute made it easy to avoid needing a rental car for the week my car was not in tip-top shape. A major win even though it was a surprise expense! And I had fun watching the install and learning how this doohickey is connected to my car’s computer.
  • Gasoline $28.19: One fill up, not including vacation.
  • My Spending $10 while on vacation
  • Family/Friend Funtimes $66: One ice cream shop stop (with a doggie cup of course) and a Groupon purchase for paddleboard rentals. SO MUCH FUN!
  • Kiddo: he’s paying his own bills now that he’s home for the summer! Yeah!
  • Everything Else:
    • $28 for drill bits and a chuck key (I have no idea where the chuck key went! The drill bit size I needed to repair a table was broken last summer); as well as a cheap roll of Caution tape to mark off the lawn where I’ve spread new grass seed and now fertilizer.
    • $33 prescription contacts through Hubble – they are a teeny bit big for my eyes but work just fine and cost close to $200 less per month than what I was prescribed!
    • $522 dentist – routine cleaning, x-rays, onlay (partial crown) of a tooth that was cracked
    • VACATION! $1645 for over 5000 miles, three people, one dog, 26 meals and a LOT of gasoline!! This is a HUGE decrease from my spending last year which was half the mileage, half the bodies, and straight camping.

Lessons: 

I am STILL annoyed that SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS of my vacation spending was for a hotel room! But I really think it’s bugging me more because I turned down a house stay option only because I hadn’t seen that friend in a few years and didn’t want to take advantage adding an extra guest and my dog at the last minute. Of course we picked up right where I left off and I’m so bummed I didn’t take the opportunity to spend more time with her!

PLANNING is the key for me, in EVERYTHING. From lunches to a cross-country road trip – the hours I spend preparing and pre-frugalizing my decisions always save me money and also save me from decision fatigue. I spent the first 40 years of my life winging it, so I still definitely have some work to do in this area, but the last nine months or so have put me on a good path. I wouldn’t say planning out my weeks are habit yet – in fact, it still feels very novel, but it’s getting easier and a tiny bit faster to do so. The week after returning home is proof that I need to keep working at this skill – my food spending was completely mindless on some days (I even bought coffee at work!) which was a bit eye-opening since it had previously felt very easy to avoid those little expenditures.

YouTube is an invaluable resource. We (ok, my son) fixed a car part that I’d never heard of and he’d not yet seen on a car built after 2000 (so the computer aspect and some of the hoses were a little more complicated). In the last six months I’ve used YouTube to learn how to rewire electrical outlets, repair small appliances, and have started using guided meditation videos daily.

Saying Yes to social opportunities is still important to me – purchasing vouchers for paddleboard rentals is already turning out to be a great decision. The three of us spent a gorgeous sunny afternoon on one of our many city lakes, and I can tell I’m hooked. Now just for more days off of work that aren’t raining 🙂

I’ve continued to walk around the city lakes with a dear friend regularly – costing us nothing but delightful time.

I’ve also joined my bike shop for a couple of overnight camping trips, which are loads of fun and incredibly frugal – my only expense has been my food; the shop pays for the campsite. I have more bicycling events coming up this month, that are also essentially free.

It finally feels like summer and I can tell it’s going to be a good one! What fun frugal activities do you have planned? 

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