Despite a couple of hiccups this month (like someone getting a speeding ticket which cost $20 for traffic school and $342 for the fine), we managed to EXCEED our savings goals for the month. Not only that, but it was enough to (drumroll please)... officially achieve our 2009 savings goals! YAY!! Do the happy dance with me :)
This means that on top of our existing emergency fund, we have enough saved for a new car when we decide we need one, as well as enough to make maximum contributions to our Roth IRAs in 2010. And with 4 months to spare!
OK, enough celebrating, there's still work to be done!
One challenge I've encountered in creating our budget has been irregular expenses, mainly vehicle maintenance and trips to the vet. These expenses don't happen every month, and sometimes its difficult to plan for them ahead of time. What I've been doing is just budgeting a fairly high amount each month for each category, and in the months when we didn't use all or any of that amount the extra went to savings, and in the months we went over it would decrease our savings contribution. This method has been sufficient, but I'd like to come up with a better plan to even out the costs from month to month. I'm considering just setting aside x amount of dollars each month into a fund just for these items. Then when the expenses occur, I'll already have the money set aside. But how much is enough? That's what I still need to figure out.
I also need to sit down with Ninja Hubz and decide what to do with our "extra" money, now that we've achieved our savings goals. I am all for paying off our mortgage as fast as possible. We'll see if I can convince him :)
I've been increasing my efforts in the past month to start generating a little extra income. I've been using Swagbucks pretty regularly, and received another $5 in Amazon gift cards in August. I've also started increasing my online survey activity, using sites such as InboxDollars and Opinion Outpost to hopefully generate some income. Although I haven't reached a payout threshold on any of the survey sites, I'm getting there.
I've sold 2 old books on Amazon Marketplace, for a profit of $8.64. Every bit counts! And I've been having great success using Paperback Swap - I sent out another 5 books in August. Between Paperback Swap and the library, I've been able to keep myself well supplied with reading material and have only had to pay some postage. Plus, its cutting down on clutter in my house to get rid of some of my old books :)
Speaking of decluttering, I haven't gotten much done this past month. Definitely some opportunities for improvement in September.
Total grocery expenses were $260, but I'm expecting $36 in rebates, so its really about $223, which is just under the plan ($225). I'm thinking I should lower my grocery budget a tad, not because I need the money elsewhere, but because I'm getting way more food than we really need. I just hate the thought of missing out on deals. I usually shop on Sundays and Thursdays and try to keep it at $50 per week, so to plan for each month I allocate $25 for each Sunday and Thursday in the month. I think I will challenge myself in September to try to stick to $45 a week, just to see how it goes.
Other household expenses were $66 (budget was $75) - the biggest expense was $24 for Ninja Hubz' haircut. I wonder why that cost so much. Maybe I need to learn how to cut his hair :)
See how others are doing on their goals at Finding Freedom Friday and Money Saving Mom.