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It’s the beginning of a new month, which means it’s time for me to examine last month’s finances and see how it’s affected our net worth. While I do get excited to see the numbers move up, I'm not devastated if they decrease. We're more concerned with learning where our money goes. It’s a great exercise to help us see where we’re doing well and what we can improve on.

Our Spending Habits in September

I already know we've spent more than normal this past month. The biggest expenses involved the Financial Blogger Conference. Besides hotel and car rental expenses, we also grabbed some time to sight-see in Chicago, pick up some clothes for the chillier than we planned weather, and eat out with friends while watching knights (Medieval Times).

Here are our 3 biggest expenses last month as calculated by Mint:

  • Housing: $1,176.71
  • Food/Groceries: $508.23
  • Shopping: $370.23

Housing expenses have remained the same, but food and shopping increase sharply last month. We ate out a bit more this month due to the trip to Chicago and for a game night we hosted at our place. We haven't had one in almost a year. I didn't want to do one while I was pregnant and after the baby was born I needed time to just recuperate. Now that we're getting used to our routine we'll be trying to host one each month. I'm going to plan ahead more so we can keep our food expenses lower. I shopped last minute for this one and paid too much for the supplies.

As for shopping much of it was for a few items for the house that we wanted for awhile, but were waiting for sale to appear. We bought a small gas grill for our little place and since it's the end of grilling season we saved some good money with this purchase.

We also found a fantastic deal on Newegg for office chairs. Don't laugh- having new office chairs has been a wonderful upgrade. My back has been bothering me and when I sat in the new chair, it felt so good. I can't describe the awesomeness of having a chair that adjusts so well. Our old chairs were hand me downs and pretty much were uncomfortable if you spent a significant time sitting. Since I work from home, this was a problem.

Next month will hopefully look a little better and have our spending more in line with our previous average.

Checking & Savings

In case you missed my earlier post, my husband's company came through and reimbursed a big portion of the deductible. We're happy they took care of it promptly and my husband immediately scheduled a transfer into the joint savings.

Retirement Accounts

It looks like our retirement funds took another hit in the market last month. Happy to report it wasn't anything tragic, but I do hope to see it improve soon.

We’re still not planning on making any changes to our retirement contributions as we have some more immediate financial goals we'd like to reach this year. We took care of our savings for the baby and now we're saving up for our next vehicle.

I believe once we have some idea of how we’re going to handle our finances as new parents, we’ll look at our retirement accounts and contributions some time in 2012 and adjust accordingly.

Cars and Auto Expenses

Our cars are still moving and no repairs this month. That's helping us as we saving up to pay cash for the next family car. We hope to get a car sometime next year so we have to get our car replacement fund goal before then.

In case you’re wondering how I calculate the vehicles’ values, I used Kelly Blue Book. Every quarter I’ll update the values to account for depreciation.

Student Loans

We have one student loan between us. Right now we’re continuing with the automatic monthly withdrawals for the student loan payments. This gives us a slight discount on the interest rate as an added bonus. It’s been relatively easy to keep up with them; we just confirm payments have been made each month from our joint checking.

If we have any savings in December after reaching our other financial goals for the year, we’re hoping to pay it down. Since this is a reach goal, I’m shooting for $2,000. If we don’t make it we won’t be disappointed, but if we do, it’ll be icing on the cake.

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: $109,380.34
  • Interest Rate: 5.00%
  • Loan Term: 30 years, fixed rate

Our goal is to pay off our mortgage years before we retire.  Right now our timeline is about 15 years, instead of the 30 years we signed up for. We wanted some wiggle room in case we ever hot a financial speed bump. Once our mortgage payoff is accomplished, we’d love to be able to direct that money into other interests and goals of ours down the road.

Monthly Summary

Now that everything has been summarized, it’s time to look at the numbers. Here’s our net worth from the spreadsheet:

Net Worth (as of September 30, 2011): $63123.99 (+3,095.42)

Your Net Worth Update

I shared my progress; now I’d love to hear from you. How are you doing with your finances? How are you doing in 2011 so far?

Photo Credit: The Cleveland Kid


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..

8 comments add your comment

  1. You’re doing a great job, Elle! I really hope the markets improve in the near future as well. At some point they’ll have to turn around, right?!

  2. Well for us, September marks the second straight negative NW month since we financed a car last September. The market is being a real killer for us.

  3. Wish it gets better this month with the markets. We’re also looking at other areas of our budget we can improve. I’m getting insurance quotes for our home and I’m looking around at refinance rates. We’ll talk about that later this week – looking at savings some money with the house.

  4. While my net worth is up about 60% this year….the past couple months have been really frustrating. I keep throwing cash into my liquid cash account and investments and it seems the investments are gobbling up most of my gains (only 1.85% this past month).

    Is what it is…It’ll explode upwards one day lol

  5. I think we’re like lots of folks. Although our net worth is up about 5% YTD, the last 3 months have all been paper losses in investment accounts due to the ongoing market uncertainty. Small consolation comes from paying down mortgage and student loan debt at an aggressive rate (and with a guaranteed return).