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I’ve officially made it to my second quitting anniversary. (And beyond! In fact, I’m behind in writing this budget review, so I’m including 16 months of budget results in this post. )

When I quit my job in September 2017, I was extremely stressed at work, and I felt mentally and physically sick all the time. I needed a break, or I was going to break. Fortunately, by the time I got to this breaking point, I had been “gazelle intense” with my family’s budgeting for 4 years. (If you know Dave Ramsey, you’ve heard that term before!) In that time, we even got our home paid off.

So, with my husband’s blessing, I quit. And, I like to think, with a little bit of sanity left.

When I looked back at our family budget for the first year after quitting my job, I remember being shocked and relieved and vindicated by my one-year quitting anniversary results. My efforts to budget within our new one-salary income every month was working!

We didn’t dip into our savings, and we actually saved money that first year.

But I couldn’t just look at the one-year results and say, “ok, we’re good. Now I can do whatever I want.”

It’s an ongoing effort to make sure we can still live comfortably on just my husband’s teaching salary.

And since it’s January, I thought it would be the perfect time to review and reflect on last year’s budget to determine my second quitting anniversary results.

So, from a budgeting perspective, how did year 2 of my unemployment/retirement/stay-at-home-mom-ing (-I don’t know what to call it) turn out?

Here are the questions I asked myself to gauge the answer:

  • How was our budget doing month to month?
  • Did we lose or save money monthly? Overall?
  • What life events (expected or unexpected) affected these outcomes?
  • How well did we survive solely on my husband’s elementary school teacher salary?

And the biggest question:

Were we still making ends meet in year 2 or did I need to go back to work and get a paying job?

In this post, I’ll list our large and/or unexpected expenses, our large and/or unexpected savings, and then break it down with our monthly net income and net assets.

Note: When you see the numbers I’ve pulled for our monthly budgets, you might wonder how I keep track of all this budgeting information for our family. And the secret is Mint.com. I am able to easily track and review all these budgeting statistics solely because of mint.com. It’s a free website made available by Intuit, the same folks who make Quicken. And it aggregates most all of our financial accounts automatically. I highly recommend it. Learn how to use it for tracking your budget in my post here.

Large and/or Unexpected Expenses in the Past Year

As always, there are some large and/or unexpected expenses that come up over the course of a year. And year 2 of my quitting anniversary was no exception.

I’ve compiled a list of the bigger expenses that really cut into our savings, but I wouldn’t necessarily call them budget busters… That makes it sound like the budget was busted beyond repair. I think budget stretchers is more accurate. When a large unexpected expense came up, we were flexible with the budget and made up for it in other budget categories.

So here’s the list of our main budget stretchers from September 2018 through December 2019 (16 months):

  • Veterinary Bills for our two senior cats: -$1800
  • Car Repairs: -$1125
  • Affordable Care Act Health Plan Changes: -$5400 (The premiums for my daughter and I went up by $450/month in 2019.)
  • Two Years of Christmases: -$1590
  • Broken Microwave: -$364
  • Total Roof Replacement (after home insurance reimbursement): -$2150
  • Sporting KC season ticket: -$1325 (The hubs needs his professional soccer time.)
  • Broken Refrigerator: -$1615
  • Broken Lawnmower: -$180
  • Two Years of Property Taxes: -$4661

Total: $20,210

Unexpected Savings/Income in the Past Year

We had a few helpful bumps to our savings and income in the past 16 months as well, including:

  • Federal and State Taxes Refund: $983
  • Teaching Award for husband: $1000
  • Husband’s summer school: $2072
  • Salary increase for husband: $800 ($50/month)
  • Grandparents give ridiculously large monetary Christmas Gifts in both 2018 and 2019: $2000
  • Savings from cash back apps: $945 ($59/month)
    • Lakeside Perks cash back: $341
    • Rakuten cash back: $23
    • Raise.com cash back/savings: $420
    • Ibotta cash back: $122
    • FetchRewards: $9
    • Microsoft Rewards (Bing): $30

Total: $7,800

Now, at this point the situation looked pretty dire. I mean, it would appear we had over $10,000 more expenses than savings – which would mean we had some really bad budget results.

But trying to compare all the unexpected stuff together is like comparing apples to oranges. It’s interesting to know, but it’s just a small part of the story.

Net income month by month

What does tell the rest of the story is our net income each month (our income minus expenses) and our total net income at the end of the 16 months.

Of course, our net income is better in some months than others, and that’s normal. The important thing is if the trend is in the positive direction.

Two cents forward and one cent back is still positive budget results.

  • September 2018: $1460 – No big unexpected transactions.
  • October 2018: $1041 – We took our two cats to the vet for their usual yearly checkups, and my car had some maintenance done. We also went on a girl scout trip to the Omaha zoo.
  • November 2018: -$2765 – November always seems to have a lot of extra expenses for us – mainly due to Real Estate and Property taxes. This time, my old car also needed more work done, including some parts replaced. Then our bathroom vents needed to be fixed (because they weren’t properly venting out of the house and were causing wet spots on the ceiling). Plus, we did most of our Christmas shopping early.
  • December 2018: $2358 – This month really made up for last month. My Florida side of the family came to visit for Christmas, and you’d think that our budget would’ve taken a hit from that. However, my parents pretty much paid for everything despite my saying we didn’t need it. You can’t fight and win against my mom about that sort of thing. 🙂
  • January 2019: $1095 – We found out our new ACA plan premiums would be going up about $450/month in 2019, despite the fact that our income changed very little from 2018. So I immediately shrank our retirement contributions again for 2019 due to the additional cost of health care, so it didn’t hurt our budget as much.
  • February 2019: $1768 – We had to get a new microwave when ours kicked the bucket. But we got our tax refunds this month too- woohoo!
  • March 2019: $1,985 – My husband won a teaching award! I’m still super proud of him.
  • April 2019: $355 – One of our cats needed some expensive teeth cleaning/extractions. She got a new nickname from us after that- our little gummy bear. We also went on a girl scout trip to the Cosmosphere.
  • May 2019: $580 – We had a lot more vet bills this month when our other cat went through a very sick spell that lasted about 4 months. He’s doing better now, but it was touch and go for awhile.
  • June 2019: $1016 – We went on a family trip to the Grand Canyon and I also had the opportunity to visit old friends in Wisconsin.
  • July 2019: $11081 – Our savings this month looks like a typo, but it’s not. But it’s not as good as it seems either. Water started seeping in and running down one of our walls after a storm in June. An inspection discovered our roof had a lot of wind damage and needed to be replaced. Our home insurance sent us a large check for our roof replacement. Since we didn’t get it installed until October, our savings look huge this month. We also went on another family trip to the Lake of the Ozarks.
  • August 2019: $866 – No big unexpected transactions.
  • September 2019: $759 – I bought plane tickets to visit my parents in November.
  • October 2019 : -$5647 Whereas our July net income looked extra good, October’s looks extra bad for the same reason. We paid for our new roof, so I promise it’s not as bad as it looks. We also took our cats to the vet for their yearly checkups.
  • November 2019 : -$4169 We paid our real estate and property taxes. We also had to buy a new refrigerator. Our freezer was slowly getting warmer and would randomly thaw and refreeze. We didn’t want to wait until it completely broke down, so… budget stretcher. And I had to replace my beloved electric lawn mower. The battery wasn’t making it long enough for me to finish half the front yard anymore. Since this happened in late fall/early winter, I was able to wait until there was a good deal on a new electric mower. This time I’ll be trying out a corded variety! We also started our Christmas shopping early.
  • December 2019: $635 – We finished up our Christmas shopping. I used the “Santa’s Bag” app again and was able to trim our Christmas budget by about $350 compared to last year. (I’m planning a future post explaining what we did to save this much at Christmas time.) We also decided to buy a bunch of Target gift cards because Target was selling them for 10% off, and we shop there a lot.

Net Income Total (for 16 months): $12418

By dividing our total net income by the total number of months, I calculated that we saved $776/month on average during my second quitting year (plus 4 months). And that’s a hair more than what we saved each month throughout my first quit-iversary year. ($750)

You know, I wanted to have better budget results this year than last year, and I think we really did. We had comparable final numbers for our monthly savings even though we had some larger expenses and fewer income windfalls.

Net Assets

(Retirement Accounts, College Fund, Stocks)

Lastly, I took a look at our other investment accounts to make sure that we were still on track to save enough for college and retirement.

More good news! According to our Mint report, we were up about $72,000 over the course of the year.

Despite putting in less money each month, our retirement accounts and college fund for our daughter continue to grow with interest. Yes, this is mostly all money that we can’t touch right now (without penalties), but we will some day!

Affordable college and comfortable retirement is still within our reach.

In a nutshell

I consider this another successful year of budgeting!

Our budget results show that we’re about $84,000 richer than we were 16 months ago! That’s our net income plus net assets for two adults, one child, and two cats on just one teacher salary!

That’s waay more than the teacher salary. Mind blown. Again. 🤯

As you can see, not only did we make ends meet, but we still had some splurge buys, family trips AND continued to save for retirement, our child’s college, and emergencies.

After two years of living as a one-teaching-salary family, I know we can continue to do this. Our budget results are proof!

If it’s something you dream about, you can make it happen too.

Don’t know where to start? Read my post here about making a budget. That’s the first step in reaching financial freedom- budgeting. You’ve got to know what your money is doing. And then you can start telling it what to do.

Your friend with the frugal thumb,

Joni S.

P.S. Are you budgeting each month? Drop me a note and let me know how it’s going. You can comment below or send me an email.