June and July Expenses

Fall snuck up on me this year. Last week was hot and sunny, and this week I’m digging out my sweaters.  My two oldest went back to school last week and I have mixed feelings. Part of me (a rather small part) is kind of sad. After all we had such an amazing summer. We traveled for 6 weeks. We spent our time home hiking, at the lake, and in Glacier National Park. We pitted 100lbs of cherries from Flathead lake. We almost finished building out our 2nd bathroom.

Another part of me (perhaps a bit larger part) is ready for school to start. I’m ready to find a more consistent rhythm. I’m ready to have a bit more time to write. I’m ready for our next season to start. Mr. Mt decided to take some college classes this fall. After the last few years of drowning in piles of laundry, I am going to be carving out more time for professional pursuits. Back in the day, before I had 5 little kids at home, I did a fair amount of public speaking for groups. I was invited to speak at a few groups last year, and am hoping to carve out more time for that in 2017.

This summer’s expenses were interesting and informative for me. One of the benefits of taking a year off was to see what our spending would look like if we weren’t working. And these expense posts really help me figure that out.

Our 6 week road trip spanned almost all of June till the middle of July for a total cost of $2889. That included every single item we bought during our trip. So in June you will notice our “food” expense was $0. We did buy food. But it all went under “vacation.” Same with “gas”.


June Expenses

Of the $2849 we spent that month, $1949 was money spent on our vacation. That leaves $896. May’s expenses were a bit high because we took care of a bunch of home maintenance before we left and pre-bought things like duck food. It also included $118 to buy permanent plates for our van. As long as we own our van, we will never have to pay to keep the plates current. Another reason Montana is awesome.

Looking at Junes expenses, we could probably afford to travel full time. Now, I don’t think I would want to in a pop up camper. After a few stormy nights with 50mph winds, I think I would prefer hard sides surrounding me. And perhaps a bathroom. Although, that part wasn’t nearly the burden I thought it might be. There were a few quite morning walks to the outhouse that I even became a touch nostalgic recalling my great grandmothers tales of growing up with an outhouse. Although I think the first morning of below zero weather would cure me of that mighty quick. I don’t think we will be trading our house for a RV just yet. But the trip gave us lots to think about, and time to talk about that possibility.



Total costs were $3386 with $940 being the end of our 6 week trip. So $2446 for July.

We started up the 2nd bath build out when we returned home. We bought a jetted tub and some other tile supplies, which are under the “House Maintenance” for $681. We were able to use Mr. Mt’s 10% military discount. Plus Discover had 5% back at home improvement stores, which will be doubled at the end of the year. Every year we use our cash back to pay for Christmas gifts. So those purchases added almost $70 for gifts this year. We generally average $400-$700 a year in cash back from our various cards. Which pays for a good chuck of our holiday shopping.

Our house maintenance expenses have been interesting to me. On one hand, we have had the time to improve things (adding cost). But we have also had the time to fix things (saving a lot of cost). Overall the budget is about the same, but having our net worth increase from the improvements. That has been a nice surprise.

Part of the reason we went with a jetted tub (it was $300 more than a regular version), is that I am thinking about selling my hot tub. Once upon a time, I use it nearly every day, but now with all the kids I find myself having less time to sneak out there and soak. Plus when it’s in use, it uses about $30 of electricity a month. Again, I love to lower that monthly nut. I think I would love to have one when the kids are older. But right now it doesn’t seem worth the cost. We love going to the hot springs as a family, and making a fun trip out of it. So we might sell the hot tub.

We did pay our car insurance for the year ($503) which made our expenses a bit higher. But overall I was thrilled with the number.

Having so many months come in way under our $4000 budgeted amount led to a fun surprise addition to our home in August. Stay tuned for that post!

Hopefully you all have had a wonderful summer!

Do you know what your fixed expenses look like? What is your strategy for creating more financial freedom? Do you try to lower that monthly nut? Lower flexible expenses? Increase passive income/investments? Want to guess what Mr. Mt bought! A big thanks to all the folks who comment, you all make my day. =)

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25 thoughts on “June and July Expenses

  1. Hi Ms. Montana! I’m a new reader but LOVE your blog. I’m excited to dive into your archives.

    Six week summer camper trip – amazing!

    • Ah, thanks so much! And thanks for taking the time to say hi. One of the best things about blogging is getting to know new people and hear folks stories. I hope you find some helpful posts. (The blog is only 4 months old, so it won’t take too long to look around!) Add you two cents and let me know what you think. =)

    • It actually wasn’t too bad. There are two king size bed (bed 1: Mr. Mt and I plus the dog) (bed 2: 7 and 8 yr old boys). The table slides out and turns into a bed, the 3 and 4 year old girls slept there. Then a couch folds down right by our bed and the baby slept in a travel bassinet on there. When the boys get older, we might give them their own tent. But it works well now, and we get great gas mileage!

  2. What wonderful summer adventures! I am definitely adding Flathead Lake to our list of road trip destinations for 2022 (once we reach financial semi-independence). Our family traveled up to Maine a couple of weeks ago and it was a great time.

    I love your story and think our families would get along great. Maybe our paths will cross in real life someday 🙂

  3. I definitely just try to lower expenses. You guys seem like you’re going on the same trip I took with my family when I was a little kid when we drove all around the west going to national parks

  4. Impressive all around! I’m envious of the freedom you’ve worked hard for, and can’t wait for the day when my wife and I can travel all summer with our 4 kids! Congrats on building a great life for your family.

    I’m guessing that Mr. MT bought a backhoe and you’re going to dig out a pool with it! 🙂

    Also, I’ve got a sudden urge to watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind 🙂

    • Thank goodness no to the backhoe! I keep bugging him to write a post about what he bought. Even if early retirement is far off, maybe you could get a 2-3 month sabbatical from work? Plus it would be easier to save up for 3 months, vs you know, forever. =) I met some friends who saved up, quite their jobs and traveled for a year. Then they just went back to work.

  5. Sounds like a great summer with the family!

    Looking back on it now, we had a pretty nice summer too. It was filled with a lot of expensive travel, but it was worth it. Two of my brothers got married. I was in both the weddings and it was also a privilege that they both invited my son to be a ring bearer. We also had fun traveling up to D.C. for my nieces one year birthday!

    We have a few more weekend trips coming up this fall, but they’ll be cheaper.

    It’s always nice looking back and reflecting on the great life experiences! Thanks for the post.

  6. 6 weeks of camping is great – and your expenses for the trips came in so low! I think it’s awesome you took so much time traveling together as a family.

    We used to borrow a pop up camper and loved it, but then bought a travel trailer and have gotten spoiled by having the bathroom and kitchen. Unfortunately as our kids have gotten further into their teen years, they don’t want to go camping as frequently as we used to. In the past, we would spend up to 5 weeks throughout the warmer season camping. Definitely something I miss!

    • I was one of the reasons we wanted to take this trip now vs later. Our kids will never be so excited about hanging out with us 24 hours a day for 6 weeks as they do right now. =) Those silly teenagers end up with friends, crushes, sports, activities, ect. Esh. We had a great time. But I hear you on wanting a bathroom. =)

  7. Hi Ms. Montana

    That looks like an amazing adventure. I would love to spend the summer like you did but we are not quite ready to travel like that with a newborn. We recently got back from a New England cruise which was terrific but those tight quarters with a newborn was a little rough.

    Do you have any advice on when to begin taking your children on long camping trips?

    • Thanks so much for your comment! We did this trip when our littlest was 5 months. And started about the same with our oldest. I think he had logged 9 flights (2 being international) by the time he was 9 months. I think babies are great travelers, and they generally love being outside. It just takes some practice. I, on the other hand, take about 3 months. I had our first bio child when I was 24 and recovered MUCH faster than this last little one (at 33 years old.) I barely left the house for the first month this time. When camping, you just have to be more careful about the weather. We had a little heater in our pop up camper, so didn’t have to worry about that.

  8. That sounds exactly like the kinds of trips we want to take when we get done with the working world. Month long road trip/camping excursions before the kids are too old to want to avoid us. 🙂 Nice job on keeping the expenses low too. I’ve debated about a pop up vs a hard sided camper if we go that route and am still on the fence, but starting to lean more towards the hard shell – thoughts?

    As far as our “budget estimates” we pretty much just track everything with personal capital. Mrs. SSC tried Mint but it didn’t get specific enough for her. This lets us see what our typical spend is and where we can reduce costs. We’re pretty much at the base line for cost reduction until I quit work. Then we can cut out some more things like the cleaning service once a month, daycare should be over by then, but even the after school care can go away, and other things like that, that as a SAHD I can now do. That’s a few years away yet though.

    We try to be mindful of what we spend and ask “is it a want or a need?” This allowed us to reign in our lifestyle inflation early on before it ever got out of control. That and tracking spending to see where all that financial leakage was coming from as well.

    • Yeah, I’m sure between my 5 kids, one will have a “special” someone, and it would ruin their life to be gone that long. Or maybe that was just me in high school. =) Pros for the pop up: We could pull it with our van. We got amazing gas mileage (18MPG). It was easy to pull when it’s windy. A bit cheaper. Cons: Takes about 45 min to set up or tear down. No bathroom. We had some really windy, stormy nights that freaked me out. Oh, and I talked to Mr. Mt about roasting coffee after reading your post about it! You have me thinking about it. http://www.slowlysippingcoffee.com/fresh-roasted-coffee-delicious-and-cost-effective/

      • If you want a sample of beans to try out, just PM me over at my email address and I can send you some. I sent Mr and Mrs. PIE some to try out. I still have about a lb left over from 5 lbs of Ethiopian coffee that is tasty but just a bit too acidic for me. By a bit, I mean after my usual pot of coffee and a little more, I could tell it was more acidic than when I usually drink a pot or more of coffee… 🙂

        Thanks for the input on the campers. The portability and ease to pul with our current car is my main driver, followed closely by being able to still “camp” if it’s colder, raining, etc…

        • In that case, a pop up might be perfect! It also makes camping easier because we have all our camping gear stored in there. So there is less packing and unpacking. Add a bag of groceries, change of clothes and hitch it up. It has a heater in it, and thanks to the time we spend in Nebraska during our 6 week road trip, now air conditioning. =) I might hit you up for a coffee sample, or just make Mr. Mt save up some “fun money” and jump in.

  9. As much as the idea of camping is just not my speed, this sounds like such a lovely summer with the kids. I did some time in rural areas as a kid and I could never learned to love the outhouse, especially with the ENORMOUS spiders. *shiver*

    How are you determining the increase in net worth from your renovations?

    September is going to be pricey thanks to FinCon and an unexpected home repair that won’t add anything to the value of the home but is necessary. 😛

    • Awe I wish I could have gone to FinCon this year! But it’s a bit too complicated with a breastfeeding baby. =) Next year.

      As for the renovations, we work with a realtor and keep a close eye on the market here. The Flathead valley, where we live, is an easy place to find comps. I am actually posting our first net worth report this week! So you can check out all the fun details there.