October – my favorite month! I’m disappointed to report that I’ve basically done zero fall-themed activities this month, despite the best of intentions. I did spend a few hours raking leaves in my yard (see my photo from Snapchat below) and bought the Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin scented wallflower fragrance plug refill from Bath & Body Works, so I guess that counts for something, right?
While I may not have accomplished my fall activity goals, I did manage to reach an exciting financial milestone for myself – I earned more this month than in any month before! My side gig as an adjunct professor has a nice impact on my income, and I was also a nanny/house sitter for a family with three kids for five days. Unfortunately, I also spent more this month than I normally do, but still had enough leftover income that I was able to make a significant contribution to my savings/sinking fund priorities (more on those later).
Here’s a list of some of the more significant out-of-the-ordinary purchases I made this month:
- Deck railing construction: My homeowner’s insurance company was requiring me to build a railing around my deck, with a deadline of early October. I was a little frustrated with this unplanned expenditure, but welcome to home ownership, I guess. Fortunately, my boyfriend Mike is super handy, so the labor was free! 🙂 He did a fantastic job and it turned out even better than I imagined (see photo below). My insurance agent even asked if we would come over and build his deck railing! Ha! It’s pressure-treated wood so it will be fine for the winter, but in the spring I plan to paint the railing and lattice and also repaint the floor of the deck as well. The building materials cost me about $175, which was less than I anticipated. I pulled these funds from my home savings fund.
- A few odds and ends for my home: A filing cabinet, bookshelf, electric fireplace, and paint and laminate flooring for my spare bedrooms. The filing cabinet, bookshelf, and electric fireplace were items I’d had my eye on for awhile, and I ended up getting good deals on all of them at their respective stores, so they weren’t impulse purchases or items I regret buying. All three are currently sitting in their boxes, anxiously awaiting Mike’s next visit to town to put them together for me (seriously, bless him – I did not get the carpentry/construction gene passed down to me so I really rely on him for these types of projects). The paint and flooring is also something I’ve been planning to buy for awhile, but was awaiting Menards’ 11% rebate sale. I bought two gallons of “Colonial Gray,” which ended up being a gorgeous neutral with some slightly green undertones, perfect for my spare bedroom. I love the color and it really refreshed the space. I plan to paint my other spare bedroom with the second gallon. The flooring is the snap-together laminate style in the “Barnwood Oak” color. It’s really pretty and has a nice texture. At first I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of laminate flooring, but this is higher quality and I think it will look great in the bedroom. The total for all of these items was about $625. I pulled the funds for the paint and flooring from my home savings fund, but paid for the rest with my standard monthly income.
- New Dooney & Bourke purse: ILoveDooney was having a sale, so I scored a brand new Dooney & Bourke pebble grain leather bag for $99. I buy a new purse about once a year, and recently replaced the Michael Kors one I had been carrying with a $10 Target clearance find. I liked the Target purse but unfortunately the clasp kept popping open while I walked, and sometimes my keys or wristlet would fall out of the bag. I definitely can’t have that happening, so I decided to trade back to a higher quality bag. I’m sure this could have been rectified by replacing the clasp with a strong magnet or something, but it just wasn’t worth the effort to me.
- Sirius XM subscription renewal: I am OB-SESSED with Sirius XM radio, and I spend enough time in my car that the cost is worth it to me. My subscription and its subsequent promotional deal was expiring at the end of October, so they sent me a bill for the next year of service, which was doubling in price. I don’t think so. I called them and was able to negotiate a deal so I received the same promotion for the next year. The paid-in-full negotiated rate, including taxes and fees, for service for the next 12 months was $117.
- Passport renewal: This is something I wish I would have done sooner, because not doing it ended up costing me a cancelled trip to Slovenia and Romania that was slated for this past September. That financial and emotional cluster will be a blog post on its own in the near future. My passport renewal was $110, plus the cost of a professional passport photo from Walgreens for $15. I deducted these expenses from my travel savings fund.
I didn’t do any traveling in October, with the exception of spending two weekends at my boyfriend’s house, who lives about 150 miles from me. All that costs me is gas and occasionally food, as we tend to trade off on who buys what. I’m starting off my November by traveling, though. At the time of this post being published, I will be in Wisconsin with my boyfriend’s family, on my way to Kentucky for the wedding of a friend from college. This should be a relatively inexpensive trip, with 4 of the 7 nights being spent with family/friends. Two nights, we are sharing the cost of an Airbnb house with six or seven friends, so that will be minimal, and one night his employer is paying for the hotel room because Mike is doing a work activity in Wichita on our way back to South Dakota (long story, and it’s law enforcement-related as he is a deputy sheriff, so I’m going to err on the side of not sharing much). His employer will also be reimbursing him for roundtrip mileage from South Dakota to Wichita, which should cover at least half of our gasoline expenses.
During last month’s recap post I noted that I hoped I would spend quite a bit less on going out to eat, and I did! In September, thanks to my work and personal travels, I went out to eat a lot, for a total cost of roughly $250. This month, I only went out to eat five times, two of which were part of a day trip for work, so I’ll get those meals reimbursed through my per diem. I spent $86 on restaurants, which is not bad at all.
Here’s an update on how I divided up my leftover income for the month:
- Wisdom Teeth Removal Sinking Fund (50% of leftover income, minus the $1,000 flat amount I planned to transfer to my emergency savings fund): $1,179.10 – This was my second allocation towards this procedure, and I am expecting to spend about $2,500 total. I hope that ends up being a high estimate, but I guess I will find out! I now have $2,021 saved, so after putting aside about $500 next month, I will be able to cash flow the procedure in January.
- To Auto Loan (50% of leftover income, minus the $1,000 flat amount I planned to transfer to my emergency savings fund): $1,179.10 – I now owe $9,979.46 on my vehicle! I bought my vehicle brand new in 2015 with a five year loan. Ouch. We live and learn, but I’ll be happy to have this paid off early and plan to keep this vehicle for several years to come. More on this in a future blog post.
- To Emergency Savings Fund (flat amount): $1,000 – To truly be comfortable with my emergency savings fund, I would like to have about $20,000 saved up, which equates to about 5-6 months of living expenses for me. So far, I have $3,522 in a high-yield savings account (I also have $3,500 in another account that I’m continually adding to and saving specifically for home ownership projects and repairs).
The extra income certainly helped my progress this month, and balanced my excess spending on various things. November involves two trips (the wedding I mentioned earlier, as well as an extended weekend in the Black Hills to hike and play tourist with a friend who is visiting South Dakota for the first time). Fortunately, I will be spending Thanksgiving at home, as I’m on call that whole weekend, which will limit my expenditures. I’m generally not a Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopper either, so hopefully I don’t get sucked into any unintended purchases. 🙂
Talk to you next week!