Snapshot: October
Making me happy this week

Thoughts on our budget


{Team Wharton budget meeting}

Last week I posted our updated budget. None of the numbers were a surprise but reviewing the dollar amounts did get me thinking about a few things:

We should keep track of what we buy with the House/Baby/Fun allocations. This is a budget line item in both Chris's and my personal expenses category and covers everything from clothing to haircuts to doctor's co-pays to eating out to random trips to Home Depot and Target. Between the two of us we have $700 allocated to these expenses and I actually think we're spending more than that. It's a lot of money! And I wonder if by not keeping track of it it's easier to spend more than we should. We should track this category to see where the money goes and if we can cut back. Perhaps we should sign up for We've been talking about using Mint but haven't taken the plunge.

Should we combine our personal checking accounts into one account? Having separate accounts has worked great for us but as we increasingly spend our House/Baby/Fun money on our baby and house - which are decidedly joint expenses! - it might be easier to have a single checking account. We could still keep gifts a secret by using our personal credit cards to buy them (and pay them off right away).

Should we save less and instead focus on paying down debt? Between our mortgage and student loans we have over $200,000 of debt. Each month we save $750 (this does not include what Chris saves back to pay for summer expenses while he does not get a paycheck). This is something Chris and I talk about every now and then but we conclude that the extra money we could put towards paying down debt would be such a drop in the bucket that we'd rather have the savings. But I'm not sure if our conclusion is the smartest. We are still working on getting to 6-8 months of living expenses (~$20,000) saved in our emergency savings account so maybe once we reach that goal we can start to focus on debt.

How do we compare to other couples? I'm so curious to know how our budget, savings, and savings goals compare to other couples like us. Do people look at our budget and wonder, "Wow, they are so wasteful!" or "Wow, they're doing a great job!" I have no idea! I really can't find much information available other than general financial advice like "save up six months of living expenses", "contribute to your 401(k)", and "make coffee at home to save money". So helpful. I'd love to know whether our debt, bills, and savings are radically different from others at a similar income level. My feeling is that we'd be similar but who knows, every couple's situation is unique and so few people are open about it. I think our student loan debt, while not out of the ordinary, puts us in a position of being able to save less than other couples at similar income levels. I really appreciate other bloggers who talk openly about finances, like Kristy (high five!). I hope we can get others to join the conversation!