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April’s Budget Recap, Net Worth Update, & Future Battle Plans

in Our Financial Journey

Woot!  Woot!

This just in…  OUR NET WORTH IS UP $7,270!

It’s true… we owned April hardcore.  But before you get too jealous, we had a few factors on our side.

  • Our Federal + State tax refund was over $3000. Yes, I know.  I’m not really that happy about my gross miscalculation either.  If I wanted to loan my money to the government for 0%, I’d just buy some bonds.  I blame it on the baby.  I feel like getting her one of the onesies that says, “Daddy’s Little Tax Deduction.”
  • Courtney gets paid every other Thursday. That’s 1… 2… 3… paychecks this month.  Gotta love those extra paycheck months.  Woot Woot!
  • I received a bonus check from my tax preparation this season. It roughly came out to be another paycheck for me, too.  However, tax season is over which means I’m back to playing Mr. Mom until Australia.

Alright, so this does take a little wind out of the sails, but I’m not complaining.  We should be able to have a decent May, but once June starts we know we will see one or two months of heading in the other direction.

Our student loans were only reduce by $661, but the real success was that we built our cash savings from $6,609 to $13,798.  Never in my life have I been able to look at a bank account with $13,000+ in it. It’s such an awesome feeling that it’ll make spending money on Australia that much harder.

Potential Problem Areas With Out Budget!

During my last update in early April, I explained that my wife and I had decided to create one big budget for the remaining months we had left.  Unfortunately, we are finding ourselves with a couple of problem categories.  With around 5.5 weeks still left, I can’t see how some of these bad boys are gonna make it.

  • Grocery [$58.92] - So… yeah.  This isn’t a whole lot to go for 5.5 weeks.  However, we did just buy a good sized load earlier this week.  In addition, we won’t need to buy much the last week or two as we just finish off whatever is left before we leave.  Some other good news is we’ve transfer Milligan from formula to whole milk now.  Even with those small victories, I’m imagining a lot of peanut butter, jelly, and ramen in the near future.
  • Eating Out [$0.17] – That’s not a typo.  We sucked this puppy dry.  The only good news in this area is that the last week proved the power of the cash envelope system.  We’ve turned away several times from stopping for fast food.
  • Entertainment [$58.84] – Whoo-hoo!  This changed exactly $0.00 dollars in the month of April.  That’s right… we didn’t spend a single penny on entertainment this month.  No movie theaters, no rented movies, and no new fancy toys or games.  It was a lot of weekends home, hanging with friends, and playing board games.

All of our other categories are right on target.  In order to help combat our most immediate problem, Courtney and I have decided to combine our Eating Out and Entertainment budgets.  Most of the time we treat eating out as entertainment in our heads, anyway.  This will give us some breathing room without having to dip into our Australia Fund.

Some Of The Categories We Owned!

  • Gas/Oil [$321.03] – I have a feeling this one is going to really bail us out.  There is no way we will spend anywhere close to this.  We have one more oil change and are going to be going down to one car soon.  I’m super pumped!
  • Child Care [$135.00] – Somehow I calculated the number of weeks we needed daycare for incorrectly.  I’m not sure how, but we budgeted for one extra week of at $100.  The $35 was on purpose in case we needed an extra day or a sitter for a night, but that $100 is pure bad math on my part.  I guess it’s the good kind of bad math, though as at the end of the day that’s $100 more towards Australia!
  • Cell Phone [$255.19] -  I wrote about how I saved the $175 disconnect fee we had budgeted by picking up the phone and calling Verizon.  In an effort to maintain some balance, Courtney and I decided we would split this money 50-50 and each take some “blow” money.  I bought this Thesis theme (and a pack of bubble gum) and Courtney took a night out with her friends and bought some clothes for Australia she wanted.  It was a much needed reward!

Future Battle Plans!

The month of May should be a fun one for us.  Like I said before, I’m playing Mr. Mom during the day and Courtney will be wrapping up the school year this month.  There’s a lot of research, planning, and selling that needs to happen this month to keep us on track.

We’ve lined up a family member to buy our four-door car, but I will be planning to sell my baby [Nissan 240sx] on the open market.  I’m shooting for between $1000-$1500!

We will be continuing to purge our remaining personal possessions and will be joining the 100 Thing Challenge as we work to create a list of everything we will be taking.  I’ve decided to give away the personal finance books in my collection, so don’t forget to stop by every Sunday for your chance to win one!

As we did this month, we will continue to keep up the extreme frugality.  We are going to go all out to stay within our grocery budget.  This last trip to the grocery store contained 15+ packets of Ramen. I’ve started to tap into more and more of the awesome bargain sites around the web, as well.  For example, yesterday we helped curb our eating out desires by swinging by Domino’s for lunch and picking up our free bread bowls.  Thanks WiseBread for the heads up!

Overall, I’m really proud of how we handled April.  We had a lot of positive factors help really boost our savings, but kept from spending nearly any of the extra money that came in. We certainly haven’t been perfect, but we are committed to doing our best to minimize the problem categories in May!

How did your April turn out?  Were you able to stay within budget? Do you have any advice that could help us stay within in any of our problem areas? Let everyone know by leaving a quick comment below!

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

prufock April 30, 2009 at 7:24 AM

I hope you aren’t sacrificing your nutrition too badly for your savings, with all those ramen noodles!

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Baker April 30, 2009 at 7:29 AM

This is actually a fairly good point! My goal is to eat ramen for lunch on the days I stay home with my daughter. I’ll still have breakfast and dinner to get all the yummy nutrition. ;-)

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Online Banks April 30, 2009 at 7:53 AM

This is great progress. It is a great feeling to have over $10,000 in savings. That is a huge accomplishment.

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Baker April 30, 2009 at 8:01 AM

Thanks for the kind words! I have no problem admitting it really does feel awesome!

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Brian April 30, 2009 at 8:48 AM

Tons of Ramen! It will feel like you are living in a dorm again. Hey congrats on April. It sounds like you guys are making a bunch of headway.

So a little victory story of my own, as of today my wife and I are officially done with Baby Step 3. We have successfully funded a 6 month emergency fund! We have truly become recession proof.

Congrats again Adam!

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Baker April 30, 2009 at 12:53 PM

Oh, wow! Man, I’m so jealous. We have a big chunk of savings, but I can’t imagine what this would be like if we didn’t have the student loans in the background. I’ve heard Steps 4 & 5 go very quickly when you have no debt payments. Not sure if you have a house, but it’ll feel nice to get to work on that!

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Alan @ Saving For Serenity April 30, 2009 at 9:00 AM

Well done, Baker.

My fiancee and I just moved this last week (crazy hectic w/ packing) so we also went through the “eat everything in the fridge”. I must say, for me, its difficult to not want fresh fruit/vegetables/milk as those are staples for me, so waiting a few days for those was difficult. Good luck trying to stay on budget in that category though!

Alan @ Saving For Serenity’s last blog post..You Have The Money For The Things You Want

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Baker April 30, 2009 at 12:54 PM

Haha, thanks Alan. I read about your move on your blog. We will still buy some fresh fruits and vegetables, I’m just gonna try to stick to basics (oatmeal, ramen, pbj) for breakfast and lunch.

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kosmo @ The Casual Observer April 30, 2009 at 9:13 AM

Ramen noodles are hot and they have a lot of salt. What more could you want? Mmm :)

I ate a lot of Ramens in college (so that I could splurge and buy hamburger on occassion) and I still get the craving.

Third paychecks are great. We’re actually getting a bonus check this year. We’re paid an annual salary with bi-weekly checks, and the company takes the salary and divides by 26. This year, we have 27 pay days. Logically, they should take the annual salary and divide by 27 (since it is an annual salary, not a bi-weekly salary). But they’re not … they’re still dividing by 26, but paying it 27 times. Basically, we’re getting an unofficial 4% bonus.

Why did they do this? They were afraid of backlash from employees who would think they weren’t being paid their entire salary. We’re talking about a VERY large company (I prefer to stay anonymous, but suffice it to say that 99% of you would know the company) – this is a large expense.

This might have been a good time to move to semi-monthly paychecks to avoid the whole mess :)

kosmo @ The Casual Observer’s last blog post..10 tips for novice bloggers

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Baker April 30, 2009 at 12:55 PM

The things corporations will do sometimes boggles the mind. Well, I guess it’s a plus for you, though! What are you going to be doing with the extra paycheck?

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kosmo @ The Casual Observer April 30, 2009 at 2:19 PM

Bubble gum. Lots of it. Mostly Big Red, but a few packs of Trident and Juicy Fruit.

We’ll save it. Maybe put something into the little one’s 529 plan. We really don’t splurge with these sorts of “extra money”. It really gets budgeted like any other cash flow would. We may be seeing a slight (and temporary) income dip in 2010, so this will serve to offset.

kosmo @ The Casual Observer’s last blog post..A day in the life of a chef

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MB April 30, 2009 at 11:24 AM

Congrats! You know I have not once, ever eaten Ramen noodles even in college. I think I might be in the minority. But I am a big rice and beans girl. And Mac and Cheese. I love Trader Joe’s organic mac n cheese ($1) with some broccoli added for a super cheap meal (usually lunch on a weekend day) for my hubby and I (my son doesn’t like mac and cheese…weirdo kid!).

May is going to go fast…I’m excited for you!

MB’s last blog post..Crunching Numbers for a Refinance

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Baker April 30, 2009 at 12:56 PM

You know I rarely ate them in college either. I had credit cards in college, so I really could eat whatever I wanted. I started eating them more and more once I cam home from college and had to get a couple real jobs. Funny how a change in perspective can change your eating habits!

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Kelly April 30, 2009 at 11:53 AM

Wow, that’s great progress! :)
I can’t say that our April progress was as good, but then we got our tax return back in February, so that made a small jump in our net worth. (we didn’t get back as much as you)

Kelly’s last blog post..passwords as motivators

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Baker April 30, 2009 at 12:57 PM

Thanks so much! As we both know, getting back a big refund isn’t a good thing. I basically sacrificed my net worth a little throughout the whole year in order to have this big bump. Not something I want to do next year!

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Cathy April 30, 2009 at 12:57 PM

You two are doing so awesome! KUDOS!

You can make Ramen a little more healthy just by adding a few things.

Ramen is all carbs. Add an egg for protein. Eggs are one of the cheapest protein sources you can buy. You don’t have to use the sodium packet for flavor. I add a little bit of soy sauce, garlic powder, and sesame oil. Of course, that depends on what you still have in your pantry since you’re clearing everything out. :) Add a chopped up spring onion for a little flavor and color. Add frozen peas or broccoli. Add cabbage to the noodle broth when it’s cooking. I just use ramen as a noodle base, and add more stuff to it. :) These shouldn’t break the bank, but make it more healthy!

Cathy’s last blog post..Flu Prevention: Wash Your Hands!

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Baker April 30, 2009 at 1:13 PM

Thanks!

Great advice on the Ramen. I usually use between a third to one half of the pack that comes with the package. It’s all you need and helps make it slightly healthier. I’ve always wanted to add a bunch of stuff to it, but usually I only add broccoli now and then. I’m a vegetarian, so I try to avoid eggs when I can (although, I do eat them occasionally). Peas do sound like a good option, though.

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My Journey April 30, 2009 at 2:10 PM

Baker,

If you can convince the wife (www.afterthealter.com) I would take the 240sx! Seriously, congrats on the accomplishments.

My Journey’s last blog post..Does anyone RELLY know what they are Talking about With Housing Prices?

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Do You Dave Ramsey? April 30, 2009 at 10:55 PM

Great job Baker! It’s fun to watch the numbers trend the right way and it provides and extra does of motivation along the way.

Keep up the good work and motivating reports.

Dave

Do You Dave Ramsey?’s last blog post..Lessons from the Great Depression

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