Inside: Find out if there has been any progress on some of the annual goals mentioned at the start of the year.
Is it July already? And, almost August? The year is passing far too fast. The summer has been busy and yet not so busy. Kids have had camps, sports, lessons, and lots of “Mom! I’m bored!” along with plenty of fighting. All kids do that, right?
With the year passing by quickly, I wanted to check-in and note where I am on the goals mentioned at the beginning of the year. How has it been going?
Our food budget is going okay. Not great, not bad, just okay. I did manage to do many more meatless meals the first few months of the year but also received many complaints about it from the kids. Granted, many of the meatless meals were either ‘spicy’ or tomato based in some respect and they burned out on that.
So, I gave in and started going back to more meat based meals while trying to find more recipes that may cater to one child wanting fewer meals with tomato products and another that is a very picky eater. And no, she won’t eventually eat what we serve if she’s hungry enough. Trust me.
Last year our food budget averaged $768 per month. Right now, without really trying, we are at $798 per month. Ouch! While compared to the average American family of four, it isn’t bad, but we could do better. Our total is less than the latest numbers for the low-cost plan for a family like ours, but more than the thrifty plan total of about $725. What made the average the past six months go up?
We did take a mini-vacation where we ate at restaurants a few times. Then there were a couple annual celebrations with the kids in the spring where we allow them to choose a restaurant for dinner. Those three months were the ones we spent the most. I also scoped out some sales and stocked up on a few cuts of meat that should last us a while. A couple weeks ago we went to a u-pick farm to get 26 lbs. of spray-free berries. The berries totaled $43 and should last a good part of the year.
The other reason for an increase in food spending can be broken down into two words. Teenage boy.
Yes, I know girls eat a lot as well (I certainly did) and I would love it if my picky-eater would eat more, but she doesn’t. Her brother more than makes up for it. Three helpings of dinner, claims he’s stuffed, and then snacking again in 30 minutes means the refrigerator needs to be constantly refilled. Like us when we were teens, he is lighter than average for his age and height so it’s his metabolism in overdrive.
Um. Can we move on?
This is a big, fat, failure thus far. No extra income yet. Right now my goal is by end of summer to at least bring in a little extra to throw at a few bills.
Or, does selling a bed frame on Craigslist count? If so, then I’ve pulled in a whopping $50.
We did go through our investments and rebalanced our accounts. We both have Roth and rollover (traditional) IRA accounts and my husband also has his 401(k) account. Part of the trick is monitoring investments in the 401(k) so they don’t get too out of balance with the other accounts.
Then I also try and look at our allocations as a whole and try to figure out the best way to split the investments so a fund isn’t divided between accounts unless it has to be. The options in the 401(k) also leave a bit to be desired. Altogether, this means there is a fair amount of work to do each year (depending on the markets) to get everything rebalanced.
On a good note, our dividend income from the funds in our retirement accounts is looking good. Of course, we normally reinvest our dividends rather than putting the payment into a cash account, so it is nice to see those come in and continue to grow.
What about the rest of the year? Hopefully, we’ll squeeze in another mini-vacation this summer and likely a trip this winter. Those plus the holidays will potentially cause some food cost spikes if I’m not careful to account for those. The investments are on auto-pilot for the remainder of the year.
And the extra income? It is a work in progress. We have plenty of stuff to donate (tax deduction) and some things we can sell on Craigslist or to resale shops. That should help not only clear out some of our clutter but bring in a bit of pocket money. Even my son is getting into it by trying to prep his massive Pokémon collection for sale.
How have your goals for the year been going?