April 2018 Spending and Frugality Update

Phew, April has simply flown by!  It has been a good month for us.  We’ve had two birthdays, and a visit from my mother in law. We’ve also have visited the beach twice, which has been lots of fun.

I thought it might be nice to at times share our spending on the blog, mainly for accountability.  We became debt free by finally kicking my student loans to the curb in November.  It has been such a blessing.  The weight has been lifted!

We have been following Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, and I must say that his plan is pretty amazing when pursuing debt freedom.  I guess you would call us Dave-ish since we didn’t follow his plan perfectly.  After all, we did take on two mortgages temporarily when we moved for my husband’s job.  I’m sure Dave would never have approved of this, but it was important for us to remain together.  Not many people would rent to a family with eight kids, eight chickens, three rabbits, a dog, and pet birds.  Getting rid of our pets was a non-negotiable for us and so we went ahead and purchased a house with some land.  I hope to share the second part of our debt free story before too long.  You can read about the first part here.

Once we arrived at the “wealth building” baby steps, I really thought there has to be more than this.  I want for our family to be financially free, but I do not want building “wealth” to be our end goal.  The Dave Ramsey “Live Like No One Else, so One Day You Can Live Like No One Else” mantra kind of started to rub me the wrong way.  Yes, there are many ways that we can “live like no one else” without buying an abundance of material things, but I found myself looking for more.

And so, I started to expand my reading material.  I have found that I probably identify more with people who pursue frugality for the sake of frugality, instead of those who pursue frugality only to build their assets.  This sounds so nuts to me since not too long ago this wasn’t my mind set at all!  But while embracing a simpler life with less bills I realized that joy and happiness is found in the here and now.  I don’t need to look at a life of frugality now as something I’m forced to do just to “build wealth”  Frugality means concentrating on the simple and meaningful things in life.  While I still have a long way to go, thinking on these things has increased my joy.  The simple things in life are truly gifts from the LORD, aren’t they?

*Spending time outdoors with my kiddos is both fun and free!

And so, I would like to share a few frugal things that we have done this month to strengthen our financial picture.  Our main goal right now is to pay off our home early.  It is a wonderful feeling to pay down our mortgage as quickly as we can, despite the intimidatingly big number staring at us.

Mortgage Payoff in September 2017: $242,500

Mortgage Payoff in January 2018 (we used $38,000 from our other house sale to pay this down quickly): $202,000

Current (April 2018) Mortgage Payoff: $189,991

A few frugal things we accomplished this month:

  • We stopped dance lessons.  These lessons were far and expensive.  Approximate savings including gas per month: $600
  • We looked for free activities.  We went to a free concert at a local church, and visited several state parks.
  • I opened a couple of credit cards.  Yes, I know this is a huge Dave Ramsey faux pas, but if behavior is in check then credit cards can be beneficial when using them for regular purchases (no splurging!) for cash back rewards.  This only works if you pay the card in full each month, so no interest is accrued.  If you do not have the motivation to do this, then credit cards are not for you! I took the $70 Gift Card offer from Amazon to purchase a large pack of diapers, a huge pack of baby wipes, a violin bow for my son, bird seed, shampoo, and clothes pins for my new clothes line. *I must admit that I was a little frustrated when my debit card information was stolen last month for a second time, which is another reason we opened these accounts. It is not fun to worry about your bank account being drained.
  • My husband put up a clothes line!  Once my clothes pin are in I hope to put it to good use to save on our utility bill.
  • I found a forgotten $19.30 in my Walmart Savings Catcher App. Woo hoo!

Our April Spending

  • Mortgage: $1344
  • Pure Talk USA (cell phones for four of us): $106
  • Electricity: $159
  • Internet and Security System Bundle: $65
  • Car Insurance (for van, truck, and camper): $151.32
  • Life Insurance: $13.30
  • Gas: $558
  • Groceries: $857
  • Eating Out: $103
  • Lowe’s: $24
  • Tractor Supply: $91
  • Eye Patches: $21.55
  • Drivers Ed Course: $25
  • Misc.: $140
  • Violin Lessons: $120
  • Birthdays ($150 (x 2 birthday children) for gifts, $86 dinner out, $30 misc. family party/food supplies): $416

Total: $4194.17

Total minus mortgage: $2850.17

We use Amazon Prime for all of our media usage pretty much.  We love it, and it has saved us a good bit of money.  Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial here. 

Unaccounted for here is our savings, 401k contributions, giving, extra we threw at the mortgage, and health insurance which is mainly covered by my husband’s employer.  The birthday funds came from a savings account sinking fund. We really need to work on lowering our grocery and gas budget. We spent substantially more on groceries this month than we usually do, but we spent less on eating out since we were not at ballet.  However, my favorite discount grocery store is one hour away in the town we drove to for dance lessons, and we didn’t go there at all this month.  I’m trying to think of a better plan.

My goal is for our spending to eventually be in the $2000-2500 range per month excluding our mortgage.  We want that mortgage payment to go away as quickly as possible!

So, it’s been fun sharing this financial update. Finding ways to save money is a big (and fun!) part of being a stay at home wife and mom.

Thank you so much for stopping by! I would love to connect with you on Facebook. I’d also like to invite you to my Mary & Martha Facebook Page, or to look at beautiful and inspiring Mary & Martha home decor. It is a such a blessing to serve you!

This post may include affiliate links.

12 thoughts on “April 2018 Spending and Frugality Update

  1. Ellie says:

    I have done questions for you. Does that include tithe and other offerings? (Totally don’t mean to put you on the spot. Just curious.) Do you have any tips for not impulse buying and how do you clothe your kids? Seasonal shopping? Garage sales? Do you have any ideas for cheap dinners? When you are out do you pack lunch for the day?
    Thank you for your transparency! I actually kinda think it’s fun to be frugal! I enjoy the challenge, but sometimes I also enjoy a $6 coffee. 😉

    • Nicole says:

      Hi Ellie! I only included bills and physical items in our spending list. Our giving and saving category is separate from this.❤️ Truthfully, I have been an impulse shopper for much of my life (excluding the last 1.5 years) and I’ve just come to the conclusion that we have more than enough. I haven’t had to buy much for my kids in terms of clothes for awhile since we simply have so much, and grandparents give clothing for birthdays and such. That had been a blessing! I do like consignment sales, and otherwise I shop at places like Walmart usually for clothing. We do things like chili, chicken casserole, spaghetti, bbq sandwiches, etc. for dinners. But I think I have a lot of work to do in the food spending category. I think that frugality really starts to be fun when you have a goal that outweighs whatever pleasure or impulse that is tempting you. That makes it much easier to say no. Frugality to me means that I know what I value, and I don’t want to experience shoppers remorse. If I splurge on a well thought out purchase that is needful I don’t feel badly.

  2. Magan says:

    I loooove this post! We too are doing Dave Ramsey’s steps- modified like you guys and I love reading other people’s stories. It’s kinda keeps the frugality mindset going when you want to give up. 😉 We only have our mortgage as well, and want it gone, gone, gone! Keep up the good work and keep us posted!

    I’m curious about how you handle homeschool curriculum purchases? That’s what I’m in the middle of right now. We try to hand down from siblingto sibling as much as possible. But it can still add up quickly.

    • Nicole says:

      Hey Magan! I budget a set amount for homeschool supplies each year after I look at what we need and get a realistic amount. I do try to reuse as much as we can. Great job on your financial progress!!

  3. Kelly says:

    You are doing such a wonderful job! Thanks for sharing your ideas and progress over at the Homestead Blog Hop. Hope to see you again this Wednesday.

Leave a Reply