We’ve finished June 2016 and entered into July. Here’s our monthly update of blog posts and life in general in the Jividen household.
The beginning of the month started out rocky. Little Bit had a case of hives the week before school. She went to school, and I picked up a case of hives. Neither of us know what caused the reaction. It was not fun to go out all covered in a rash, though, and for the moment I’m avoiding nuts and Little Bit is avoiding shrimp.
We both feel like we might have to give them another try to see if that’s where the allergies lie. Just not this month.
June was a big month for us, particularly for our daughter. Little Bit enjoyed her 6th birthday and birthday party, finished Kindergarten and saved up for her most expensive toy yet: an animatronic unicorn that cost her $89.46.
The kid likes her robot toys.
Little Bit had a little help to boost her savings when my parents sent her $40 in birthday money, but it would have only taken her another week or so to save on her own. I don’t love the toy (It doesn’t seem to do nearly as much as the robot parakeet that she saved for and purchased earlier this year,) but I’m very proud of her for saving her allowance.
Having a savings goal works really well for her, as it does for most of us.
Little Bit is also starting Girl Scouts this month. She has wanted to join since the first time she saw the girls selling cookies, and now she gets to be one. I was pretty impressed that the membership fee was so low, and I was able to pick up a copy of the Daisy manual from a friend. Yay for the friend network! Sometimes just asking “has anyone got?” pays off.
A Little Good Reading
So what did I do with my Amazon credit?
My plans for the credit changed over the week, thanks to your comments.
Several of you mentioned supporting authors you wanted to support, so I bought a copy of Frugality for Depressives by Abigail Perry over at I Pick Up Pennies. While I don’t suffer from depression, I do have family members who do. Even if that wasn’t true, there are times when I just don’t feel like being careful with money. There are times when I don’t feel like I’m doing a very good job with adulting, or saving, or anything else.
I needed this book, too. If nothing else, it’s a nice reminder that life isn’t always perfect and that sometimes just doing your best is good enough. We all have limitations of one sort or another. Figuring out the best way to work within them works a lot better than ignoring them.
Plus, Abigail has some tips that are useful no matter what your situation, just as she does on her blog. For instance, I have totally ignored My Coke Rewards. That was silly. While we don’t drink a ton of soda, we do drink some, and anything that can get us free movie passes is worth checking out.
And the best hint of all. Before you buy something, consider this:
Is this item going to help with something that’s already a part of your life, or are you buying it to get the ball rolling? Because the latter rarely works out.
An elliptical machine won’t make you start exercising, but it may be a good buy for someone who already religiously uses one at the gym.
Frugality for Progressives is a quick easy read. (I finished it in an evening.) If you get the e-book version, there’s a ton of useful links. The e-book runs $7.99 on Amazon, or you can buy it from Barnes and Nobles or Abigail directly. You can order paperback copies as well.
A Backpack Story
I was going to use a good chunk of the rest of the credit to purchase Little Bit a new backpack for 1st grade (which begins Monday.)
I hadn’t really planned on getting her a new backpack for the new school year, but last Wednesday (the next to last day of school!) the zipper on her old bag broke.
I bought the old bag at Walmart for about $12 last year. It lasted okay, but I decided to spend more to get a backpack with a guarantee this time. Better to spend $30-$40 once than spend $12-15 a year, right?
I looked on Amazon, and found a really cute Jansport bag for $33. Little Bit loved it, and we ordered it. For some reason, though, I kept looking at the reviews.
There were 10 or so 1 and 2 star reviews saying the bags were counterfeit. Buyers found that the bags broke easily. When they sent the bags to Jansport to get replacements, Jansport would not support the warranty.
Ouch! I have heard of fake Louis Vuitton purses, but I guess even kid’s backpacks aren’t immune.
The good thing is that I found the information within the cancellation window. I cancelled the purchase and got my credit back.
After looking around, though, I couldn’t find any Jansport bags directly from Amazon. They were all sold by third party sellers, and I was gunshy.
I went to LL Bean instead, knowing that anything they sold they would also guaranty. While I spent a little more ($40 as opposed to $33), I bought a little piece of mind. If this new bag breaks, I can get a replacement.
Plus, the new backpack has glow in the dark dolphins. These things are important to first graders!
I didn’t really talk about spending in our May update, because the story seems the same. We spent too much on groceries, everything else is similar.
Okay, we keep spending too much on groceries, which probably means I should tweak my expectations, and therefore my budget, or tweak my shopping. Or both. Probably both.
Mostly, our overage in June was because we stocked up on wine at Trader Joe’s. Without that, we would have been right on target for our grocery spending. Part of me wants to say that’s an exception, but the truth is we have an “exception” once a month. The exception this month was wine, next month might be a trip to BJs, then we’ll have something else.
If you have an exception every month, it’s not an exception, is it? For the most part we’ve paid for our grocery exceptions by reducing our miscellaneous items, like entertainment. This month we couldn’t do that because we also spent a fair amount on entertainment (that’s how we characterized the birthday party) and gifts. We budget for the gifts, and I guess our entertainment bill most months runs under budget. It still made for an expensive month.
The one up side (and Jon hasn’t stopped grinning about this one) is that our electrical bills tend to be better than average. Our June bill was one of our lowest, thanks to mild weather and the little tweaks Jon’s been doing around the house to save energy. We spent twice as much on gas as usual, though, with several unavoidable trips out of town.
Any budget is a balancing act, and a rebalancing act. You have to figure what’s working and what isn’t. So we’ll go back and figure what we need to do, but for right now it looks like we need to be putting a bit more in the grocery category.
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