September Progress to Goals

September was our first month in the new apartment – our first month to incorporate the 39% increase in rent into our budget. I was pretty hopeful that we’d find a way to stay on task with our savings goals despite the higher rent but I had no idea just how well this month actually went until I sat down tonight with my spreadsheet. Take a look:

september-expenses

We came really close to keeping our absolute expenses at 50% and we managed to put 35% of this month’s income into savings. We didn’t do anything extraordinary as far as reducing expenses goes. In fact, we dined out four times this month (a highly unusual occurrence for us) and we spent about $100 helping my niece get set up in her new place. We also decided to add Hulu back into our entertainment line-up. They were offering $5.99/month for a year and well, we wanted to watch season 1 of Blindspot.

I think the biggest contributing factor was that our income was up quite a bit. We got our full deposit back from the old apartment and had almost $700 in side-hustle income. We also opened a new bank account (specifically to use as a travel savings account) and earned a $300 bonus for meeting their conditions.

Speaking of travel…

Tomorrow we leave for our trip to New York and Washington, DC. I’m pretty excited. It’s been a while since we’ve been on a long vacation and this one will be a 9-day immersion into history, letterboxes, cityscapes, and fall colors. I’m not sure how much time I’ll spend online (hopefully very little) but we will be posting on-the-go to our Facebook and Instagram pages. We invite you to follow along.

Slashing our Internet & Phone Bill

It’s a shame in this day and age, when we have 700 cereals and 4,000 sodas to choose from, that we have such limited choices in internet service providers. In Florida we could choose from Verizon or Comcast. Here we get AT&T or Comcast. Of course, there’s always the choice of no internet, but hunting down a wifi connection every day gets old after a while – especially when you work online.

We currently have AT&T and if you read my post on Budget-Friendly Home Entertainment, you’ll know that I declined to move the service to our new apartment due to the $49 transfer fee and the $25 increase in monthly fees. Instead, we opted for the basic package from Comcast at $19.99/month. But those cheap “intro” packages aren’t without their own added costs…taxes, fees, and $10/month just to rent a modem from Comcast. With a little digging, I was able to find a refurbished Comcast-ready modem on Amazon. Using a gift card we earned by answering QuickThoughts surveys, we paid only $12 out-of-pocket for the modem. That’s just a little more than a one month rental. Score!!

Included with our AT&T package was unlimited calling on our home phone, which we used quite regularly for my work and to call our moms. Home phone service is not included with Comcast (at this price point) and I didn’t see choosing a higher priced package just to get it. We did want a good calling plan though that didn’t add minutes or data usage to our Ting bill so we opted for Skype. We chose to get a Skype number ($39.50/annually) to receive calls, which will ring directly to our cell phones. Unlimited Skype to cells and landlines in the US is only $2.99/month or $30.50/annually.

Here’s how the savings worked out:

AT&T Comcast Skype
Monthly Cost $76.79 (Internet & Phone) $19.99 (internet) $0
Annual Cost $970.48 (with transfer fee) $239.88 $69.50

Total Savings – $661.10 (68%)

We’re really happy with the money savings…and the time savings too. Effectively we just bought back 33 work hours of my time over the next year just by cutting our internet/phone bill. That’s pretty cool, especially since we’re trying to find ways to work less anyway.

This cut officially marks the last budget adjustment that we can make. We’re officially as low as we can go. Woohoo!