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It’s the beginning of the month, which means it’s time to examine last month’s finances. April is here, but I'm still waiting for some consistent spring weather -even if it means my allergies will be bothering me.

Our Spending Habits in March

The big expenses this month were our cars. Coincidently it involved brakes for both and it took a chunk of our money. I'll get into details in a bit with the car portion of our review, but we're still within our budget. Here are our 3 biggest expenses in March:

  • Home (Mortgages, Extra Payments, HOA Fees, etc): $1,181.96
  • Auto ( Repairs): $1,015.96
  • Bills/Utilities: $404.98

Besides the repairs on the cars, it was pretty much the usual with our budget. My husband did have his semi-annual payment sent in for his life insurance policy. Otherwise I can't think of anything drastically different last month.

Checking & Savings

Our financial system had a minor adjustment with the car repairs.  We simply transferred into our checking account additional funds to cover the costs. While we were expecting to have these particular expenses with the cars, we did know that cars require repairs. That meant we didn't have to dip into the emergency fund, but rather used a little bit of joint savings.

Retirement Accounts

We’re still not planning on making any changes to our retirement contributions this year. We really want to focus on more immediate goals of getting ready for the baby. I can't anticipate the future, but I believe once we have some idea of how we're going to handle our finances as parents, we'll look at our retirement accounts and contributions.

Neither one of us want to get distracted with so many financial goals that we get discouraged. We are setting aside a percentage of our income and our contributions are automated.

Our Cars

As you saw earlier, repairs took a bit out of our budget, but it was necessary. For some people, they would suggest to us getting a new or certified car even if it meant getting a loan to avoid the costly repairs. However, if you run the numbers, it's not really too bad.

I expect these to average to smaller monthly costs based on last year's performance. Those numbers seem very reasonable for us and not having a car loan allows us to save up for our next car to buy with cash.

The automated deposits are coming along as planned and if everything continues as it has this year, we should reach our goal of socking away $5,000 more into the car replacement fund in 2011.

Student Loans

Nothing exciting or new, we’re just chugging along with the student loan payments. Payments have been automated so it’s been relatively easy to keep up with them; we just confirm payments have been made each month. I’m really happy that I consolidating my student loans last year to take advantage of the lower rates.

House and Mortgage

The mortgage payments are chugging along. As part of our usual routine, our automated extra principal payment (now $175) was sent in on the 15th of the month.

When deciding on how much we were going to send in to our lender, our main focus was creating something sustainable and had some impact with the mortgage.

Here’s where we stand today with the mortgage:

  • Total Loan Amount: $111,636.61
  • Interest Rate: 5.00%
  • Loan Term: 30 years, fixed rate

Our goal is to pay off our mortgage way before we retire.  Right now our timeline is about 15 years, instead of 30 years. Once accomplished, we’d love to be able to direct that money into other interests and goals of ours down the road.

Monthly Summary

After tallying up all the accounts, here's what we found for our current net worth:

Net Worth (as of March 31, 2011): $48,575.51 (+$520.46)

We've just nudged a bit higher than last month, but considering expenses we've had, I'm happy. Next month we should see that number go up as we expect our tax refund to come in any day now.

Your Net Worth Update

I’d love to hear how it went for you and your financial goals. What’s your biggest goal for this year? How are you working towards your goals?

Photo Credit: borman818

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

6 comments add your comment

  1. That is some great work, Elle! I am up about 6% this month…

    Why not slow down on the extra payments and increase liquidity for the new baby? If you don’t need it just send a super big check later this year?

    • Thank Evan – I think you’re right. If we’re cutting it close with our baby fund deadline, we’ll probably redirect the extra mortgage payment.

  2. Well first of all I would like pass on my congratulations with the future baby! Having three of my own and two step children, I can appreciate the joy and excitement you must feel.

    I applaud you on this post because I see so many people daily that have no idea of where they stand with their overall financial growth. It is a comfort to see people in this day and age still focusing on what is required.

    Have you considered your options for education for your future child? I know that was a major concern when my oldest was born. After he arrived we decided to start earlier for the rest. With two in collage now, it made it easier planning for the others.

    With the current economy we are enduring, you may want to consider taking the extra monthly principle that you pay towards the mortgage and apply it to some sort of educational funds. You might see a stronger return over the next few years compared to the current housing market. Just a thought.

    I really enjoyed looking over your blog! I will make sure to follow you.


    • Thanks Jason; we’ve talked a bit about saving for college. The next two posts in the baby expenses series will actually address this topic- it’s certainly important to many parents.

  3. No idea what my net worth is doing! I got too many different line items to bother updating monthly. Yearly for me.

    Good job tracking and increasing yours!

  4. Elle,

    Great progress. Increasing your net worth is exciting. My wife and I made that our focus over the last 8 years. That was when are oldest was born. Two more kids later and absolutely no debt whatsoever, we have made real progress. It will accelerate over time and you will be building large amounts of wealth before you know it.