$4500 spent in May! Wowza! May was an awesome, although rather expensive month. Here are a few of the things we dropped all that cash on.
$450 for a trip to a theme park: Once a year we met up with some friends from college and take all the kids to a theme park. (big and little kids, aka Mr. Mt) We spend two nights in a hotel with a pool, a day at the theme park, a big dinner out, and some fun stops on the way there and back. On a cost per day basis, it’s always our most expensive trip! But it’s a great way to stay connected to old friends and let our kids become great friends as they get to hang out year after year. One of these years we might look for a cheaper alternative, but this has become a fun tradition.
$250 New to me camera: As we were preparing for our trip, I decided to have my old digital camera repaired. The clerks reaction was basically: “Ah, isn’t that sweet! But this thing is old as dirt!” Apparently it’s far too old to repair! But they had a newer model (one version newer than my dirt old model, so about 7 versions ago) that was slightly used. So we dropped an unexpected $250 to be able to capture some good photos during this trip.
$270 Giving to MOPS: I have been part of a MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) groups for the last 8 years. I love the organization and my time with them. I have made amazing friends, found honest community, I grew as a mom, stared writing and grew in my public speaking. So we wrote a few checks to them in May during their yearly fundraiser.
$134 Freezer fan and $46 to fix our dryer: Every appliance wanted to die this month! The dryer went first, Mr. Mt almost repaired it, only to have it died again (after catching on fire!) Thank goodness we have a few fire extinguishers around the house. Our full size freezer was also on the fritz, so instead of leaving for 6 weeks and risking a freezer full of food (and breast milk!) thawing and spoiling, we opted to replace it now. One of the perks of taking this year off is Mr. Mt. having the time to try his hand at fixing these things. The cost would have been MUCH higher to bring someone in to do these jobs.
$820 Property tax: Ah, twice a year we have this lovely bill. Actually being we own 3 homes, we paid it 6x a year (but the rents cover those other ones.) It’s actually been really interesting for me as we travel to see how much the average property tax is, and what kinds of benefits residents receive for those. Overall taxes are really low in Montana. But the flip side is most of our parks, and community projects are all paid for by private fundraising. Sometimes even things like the land to build a school on, or the nursing program for the community college is private donors. We have no sales tax, and the property taxes on our three houses are about $1600, $2000, and $1200. Two of those include trash. The $1200 property tax house has a HOA fee of $10 a month which maintains the roads and public park. It can be waived if you volunteer on the HOA board. =) What is the tax situation in your area, and what kind of value does it provide?
$100 for my mom’s mother’s day and birthday gifts: I don’t buy many people gifts. Mostly because it’s not really my thing. But my mom is a notable exception. She loves gifts and it’s a big deal to her. Although we grew up poor, my mom has been the rock in our family. She worked tirelessly to create the best life possible for us, and I know she doesn’t always feel as appreciated as she ought to. So I really try not to forget the gifts in May. Last year I even went big and bought her a new washer and dryer ($900) and facial laser treatments ($1000). We actually had offered to buy her a new (used) car, but she was really happy with the washer and dryer (she is one of the strange folks who really likes doing laundry). There are many, many things I will go cheap on, but my mama isn’t one of them!
$75 to plant our garden: Beings gifts aren’t really my thing (even for myself), every mother’s day we pick out our garden plants at the farmers market. It’s something we would buy anyways, but it’s fun to think of it as a mother’s day gift to me. We go as a family and have fun selecting all the things we will grow that season. Even though we are gone the first 6 weeks this summer, we have a house sitter (hopefully) taking care of the tomatoes till we return!
Our Budget for our year off from paid work is $50k. By the end of May we are 41% finished which would be $20,833 spent. So by coming in at $14,947 we are still WAY under budget (about 25%!). In addition to the $50k budget we received an $8 tax return. $4k went to our pop-up camper, and $4k to our 6 week road trip (so far I think we are on track!).
The budget and finance side has actually been the easiest part of taking a year off. There have been so many amazing things that have flowed into our lives because of this time, but also a lot of weird looks. One of these days I will write a few posts for you all about dealing with the criticism and haters. Because whenever you step outside of “normal”, it will make other people confused or uncomfortable. Don’t let other people’s insecurity determine your freedom. I have a dozen funny stories already dealing with people’s reaction! Hope you all are kicking off an amazing summer so far!