Good morning, thriftaholics.  I honestly cannot believe that it is December already.  Where did this year go?  It seems like I was just plotting out our goals for 2014!  Craziness.

Anyway, I am pretty happy with how our year went both financially and personally.  We did really awesome when it came to creating a zero-sum budget each month, and we were able to stick to our plan the vast majority of the time (aside from at least one epic budget fail). 

We also put a ton of money into retirement and managed to save a bunch in our Health Savings Account (HSA) and our children’s 529 plans as well.  I will definitely be writing a post on where all of our money went this year, so make sure to watch out for that.

December Budget Breakdown

Our budget for December is huuuuuuuuuuuge, but it’s mostly for good reason.  Here are the details….wait for it…..and…..3…..2…..1….

December Budget Details

  • Mortgage: $1,500
  • Groceries: $600
  • Daycare: $600
  • College L: $1,500
  • College V: $1,500
  • Gas/Misc: $200
  • Cell Phones: $70
  • Electric: $150
  • Water: $50
  • Sewer: $40
  • Gas: $20
  • AT&T: $51
  • Gymnastics: $69
  • Life Ins. (H): $73.31
  • Roth IRA: $3,000
  • SEP IRA: $1,000
  • Minnesota: $150
  • Christmas: $150
  • Health Savings Account: $2,000

Total: $12,723.31

Yikes!

Our budget this month does look scary, but at least $9,000 of it is being transferred into various investments.  This isn’t money we made this month, however.  This is money we have been saving up for the entire year.  I am happy to finally be putting it into investments where it can actually help us, instead of sitting idle in a savings account.

Budget and Savings Updates

Some of our budget details are pretty different this month, so let me explain.  Here are a few notable changes and details:

Our mortgage is not $1,500

Since our mortgage is our only debt aside from small loans we have on our rental properties, I want to get rid of it…ASAP.  To accomplish this goal, I simply put a few hundred extra dollars towards the principle of our loan each month to speed up the process.  Many people have also asked me why I never budget for homeowner’s insurance or property taxes.  For the time being, those items are both paid from an escrow account I pay into with each mortgage payment.

Daycare is higher this month

I currently pay $100 per week for daycare for my youngest, and my oldest is in all-day kindergarten.  However, daycare is higher this month because I have to pay for my oldest to attend daycare during her winter break.  Also, my daycare provider is taking a one week vacation in mid-December, which means I had to find another someone else to watch my youngest and pay two separate daycare fees that week.  (Yes, I pay my daycare lady while she is on vacation…she deserves it!)

College savings is up

We are putting a total of $3,000 into our children’s 529 plans this week, and I’m pretty excited about it.  First of all, our state offers a 20 percent tax credit on the first $5,000 we contribute each year, which means that we earn 20% back on our money immediately.  And second, I really want to help my kids pay for college.  They are only 5 and 3 now, but it won’t be long until they are ready.  I have been saving since they were babies!  We will probably top these accounts off later this month, but I wanted to go ahead and plop 3K in there right away.

My kids started gymnastics

My kids did a free gymnastics trial before, but this time I am actually paying!  I get a discount for the months of December and January, but it surges up to full price in February ($125 per month).  We’ll probably do it for a few months then maybe switch to an outside sport once it gets warm outside.

Other savings

I put $4,000 into my Roth IRA and SEP IRA already this month.  I will definitely top my SEP IRA off for 2014 once we do our taxes.  The problem is, it’s hard to estimate how much I can contribute until we start adding all of our numbers up.  Last year, I contributed slightly more than I should have and we almost paid a penalty for it.  Greg made me contribute more conservatively this year so that wouldn’t happen again.  We also put $2,000 into our HSA this month.  We don’t really need this money now, but I want to let it grow as much as I can.  In case anyone is wondering, we have our HSA with Health Savings Administrators.  They have the lowest fees out there and you can invest your HSA dollars directly into your favorite Vanguard funds.

Speaking of health savings, we did not have to pay for health insurance this month. We begin our new health sharing ministry on January 1st, and I have our first premium set up on auto-pay that day.  I didn’t necessarily *try* to skip out on a month’s premiums, but it doesn’t break my heart either.  And since I paid December’s premiums in November, it just happened.

Frugal Trip to Minnesota

We’re heading to Minnesota next weekend to celebrate the holidays with Greg’s family.  I paid with our flights with Southwest Rapid Rewards points and we are spending one night in a hotel with a free Marriott night we earned.  The $150 I budgeted is for our rental car and any incidentals that come up.

Wrapping Things Up for the New Year

I am happy to report that I have all of my Christmas shopping done aside from putting a $20 bill into an envelope for each of my nieces and nephews.  Whew.  Glad that’s over with.  Now I’m mostly on auto-pilot until the holidays….and I cannot wait.  I don’t like the consumerism of Christmas, but I do love seeing my kid’s eyes light up when they realize that Santa was here.  They’re only young once, and I plan to enjoy these moments as long as I can……even if it means buying them a few toys they don’t really need.

Hey, I’m a cheap-ass santa, but I’m not so cheap that I would deprive my kids of Christmas altogether.  This year, I simply tried to buy them things I knew they would love or would use frequently.  Sue me.

How does your budget look for December?  Did you meet your financial goals this year?