DD’s Monthly Expense Checkup – August 2008

by Debt Destroyer on September 6, 2008

You loyal readers out there will recall that I’m charting my family’s monthly expenses in an effort to see where our money is really being spent. Below are the results from August:

  • $830.00 – Daycare
  • $830.00 – Mortgage
  • $540.99 – Medical Bills
  • $518.28 – Groceries
  • $330 – Van Loan
  • $208.12 – Gas
  • $203.31 – Misc Household Items
  • $145.00 – Student Loan
  • $140.75 – Electricity
  • $115.75 – Phone & Internet
  • $95.81 – Painting supplies
  • $89.88 – Contacts
  • $42.39 – Dog Food
  • $25.77 – Dining Out
  • $20.00 – Donations
  • $17.00 – County Fair
  • $12.00 – Tennis
  • $5.29 – Movies & Videos (Netflix)

For a grand total of $4170.34


Last months total was $3875.84, so we’re headed in the wrong direction. Lets see what caused this:

  1. $500+ in Medical Bills – This is a little misleading. Most of these bills have been sitting around quite a while while I waited to get final billing statements/insurance adjustments.
  2. $500+ Groceries – This one surprised me. But it really shouldn’t have. We went wild and tried some new recipes this month and they contained some exotic ingredients that I normally would never buy.
  3. $200+ Misc Household Items – This is about double of what it should be, but I guess we did stock up on some stuff and got a couple of things that we normally wouldn’t (TV converter box, propane refill).
  4. $95 Painting Supplies – When I lost my job, I stupidly started prepping part of my house to be repainted, thinking that I’d get it done with all my free-time. After killing myself scrapping for a couple of weeks, I decided I didn’t have the right tools for the job. Now I got the tools, but I might not get done before winter.
  5. $90 Contacts – I switched to a new eye-care center 6 months ago, and have always felt I’m paying too much for contacts. I’m going to try 1-800-Contacts for my next shipment.

But it wasn’t a total failure. There were some improvements:

  1. Dinning out – This is a weakness of ours, but we’re really trying to cut this back.
  2. Gas – I thought this would be much lower since we only went out of town twice and gas prices are a little lower. But then I noticed that two of our fill-ups were on the 1st and the 30th, so this number was hurt by bad timing.
  3. Daycare – Since the daycare billing cycle is one month behind, the lower number in this category was really just because of one less week in July compared to June. Next months bill will reflect the cutting back of hours.

I really hope by paying cash for some stuff makes a difference, because we clearly need to trim things more than we have been. And I can no longer be shocked by a family spending 8K a month when we are halfway there ourselves.

Until next time,


{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Sid Savara September 6, 2008 at 2:09 am

Well, even if the numbers don’t go in the direction you hoped they would, at least you know where the money is going =). That’s a huge part of the battle. And dining out is a big problem for many people, so I’m glad you’re getting that under control!


The First Creditor September 6, 2008 at 8:28 am

Yeah, I wouldn’t be too dispirited with the fact that your expenses went up. As you explained there appears to be some extenuating expenses, and bad timing which should average themself out next month. On a positive note, your dining out expense is phenomenal, especially if you say that is a weakness. We’re tracking our income/expenses also, and at only six days into the month we’ve already spent $26 on dining out. So kudos on that!


Money Funk September 6, 2008 at 1:05 pm

It really can be a shocker when you find out where your expenses are really going. But, I am one to believe that we are a step closer than most by realizing where it is all going. And deciding where we can cut back. Going out is a weakness in our budget, too. But, then we usually only go out 1 time biweekly. At $60-$70 a dinner. Perhaps, it’s just the cost of the restaurant!

I tend to wonder how I made it as a college student or a single mom when I had virtually non-existant funds. And life seemed really enjoyable. Hmmm… Finances can really be a heavy weight on the shoulders!


tiffanie September 6, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Just don’t get discouraged! We live and we learn. :)


Scott @ The Passive Dad September 6, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Boy, I wish I could trade mortgage payments. Here in the Bay Area an $830 monthly payment would be awesome. I think it would take 15-20 years before I see a payment like that. Also, when I was commuting our daycare expenses were $24k a year. It was for our two children, but still $24k is a lot of money. Now that I’m working from home, we no longer have some of the bigger expenses like daycare.
Is the $12 for tennis, the cost of balls? You really have done a tremendous job itemizing your expenses.


Sue September 6, 2008 at 7:23 pm

Take a look at the painting supplies. If you have not used some of the painting supplies take them back. Maybe you can hit on a sale later on. Look at other items in your house that you are not using. Try looking into the consignment or pawn shops and see if some prior purchases can make some $.
Great job keeping track for the month!


The Happy Rock September 8, 2008 at 12:59 am


You have been making some choices that have you heading in the right directions like blogging, tracking your expenses(very detailed), netflix, eating out, and even the cash month. Since you started tracking monthly expenses have gone up each month. Where is the overrun going? From savings, or to debt?

It might help listening to something like the Dave Ramsey show and hearing what others are doing and going through and how hard or easy they attack things. It might help with perspective and possibly even motivation.


Wailana Yoga September 8, 2008 at 9:21 am

Ouch. Paying in cash definitely helps. That’s always the downside of using credit cards, they really do create a false sense of security – then bigger problems later. It’s always quite tricky to balance everything, especially with kids!


jacquelin September 8, 2008 at 5:10 pm

Just in my humble opinion…if your really serious about cutting debt, try keeping those kids home ..just for one day outa the week. Have you broken down your child care bill? Considering that it is for 5 days/week and 9/hrs a day…at $830.00-that’s $166.00 a day for two kids (or $83.00/day for each child) OUCH! If you really want to save some money then keep them home for one day a week (until you get another job, of course) at saving $166.00 a week-that’s $664.00 a month savings! Just for one day of Mr. Mom. Try paying the child-care bill in cash. :)


Glory September 9, 2008 at 4:22 am

I think it is extremely important to make list of money spent monthly. It really helps to budget for the forthcoming month and save on something


John September 9, 2008 at 4:38 pm

If you have a membership already, try Costco or Sams for contacts – I’ve found them ridiculously inexpensive at those places.

It struck me that you spent more on dog food than dining out – I think that’s kinda funny. :)

Don’t get discouraged!


John (Debt Defier) September 9, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Thanks for all the comments. I have to admit, it’s weird to put this out there, but I figured this is what I signed up for.

@ Sid & First Creditor- Thanks for the kind words about my out of control expenses. Sadly September’s dining out category WILL be higher than Aug. and it’s only the 9th!!!

@ Money Funk – I’m trying my best to channel that college student in me to skimp by super cheap once again.

@ tiffanie – Thank you.

@ Scott – I think it’s safe to say that the Bay Area is a little different than South Dakota :)
Actually the $12 under “tennis” is the fee for a fall league I’m in.

@ Sue – Nice idea about selling unused stuff.

@ The Happy Rock – I’d say it’s coming out of severance. Plus we gave Mrs. DD a much deserved raise :)

@ Wailana Yoga – yeah, I’m really hoping for some savings by not using plastic as much.

@ jacquelin – The daycare cost is monthly and next month you’ll see this around the $650 range (I already have the bill). They’d be home more, but they are very distracting to my wife (who works from home).

@ Glory – Yeah it has definitely helped us understand where we spend our money.

@ John – That is kinda funny, but the dog gets her food 30 lbs at a time, so you won’t see this expense for a couple more months.


The Happy Rock September 9, 2008 at 11:13 pm

@DD – I think it is awesome that you are willing to be so transparent, it will only help accountability in the long run if you are willing to stick it through and use the community as motivation and help. Maybe I will post the Rock Garden’s expenses so that you don’t feel so isolated on an island.


fossil September 10, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Wow, your internet/phone bill seems a bit high, you may want to look into other options.


Diana September 11, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Are you using contact lense? I use eye lense for a year usance. I found it is cheaper than others shorter usance period option.


Meaghan September 12, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Thanks for sharing. This has been enlightening for me and makes me want to track my spending as well. The sad part is, none of your bills on their own seem outrageous. As others have mentioned, the dining out is actually quite good. I definitely agree that joining a wholesale club is a good investment. You can also try using coupons and stocking up on nonperishables when there is a sale. I get my contacts from a Walmart vision center (I don’t know if you have one in the area) They cost about $10 a pair.
Happy Saving!


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