October Expenses

Record low, winter gear and birthdays

It’s finally happened! I wasn’t sure it ever would, but here we are. Our expenses were finally under $2,000 including our giving. (2 other months we would have made it, but our giving pushed us over.) I am so excited! I had originally estimated our expenses at $3500 a month, but we have actually averaged about $2800 over the last 10 months. These lower expenses are so exciting to me for 2 reasons. 1. We are enjoying life so much that it’s hard to imagine spending more money could make our daily life much better. 2. Lower expenses mean more freedom! As we talk about what we want to do after this year off, having that freedom and flexibility from low expenses is AWESOME.



In part, none of our big bills were due this month; things like property tax, home or car insurance which we pay in a big chunk once or twice a year.

After my near panic attack last month, I was happy to see we had reigned in the food expenses. We still haven’t scored a deer, but fingers are crossed. They are very helpful in stocking the freezer full of nearly free, free range, grass fed meat. =) Hopefully we cross paths with a rather unlucky deer before the season is over.

Mr. Mt had saved up his personal money to buy a new pair of skis this year. (I still have hardly spent any of mine. Every month you will notice a $150 “expense.” That is actually and auto transfer of $75 to a separate account for Mr. Mt and me. You will notice in our 2016 Net Worth, his account is generally empty and mine rather full!).

Ski season will be here in a few weeks! The $45 misc was the binding on his skis and waxing and sharpening the edges of our other two pair. He insisted on keeping his old skis, because he swears they serve different purposes. Whatever. We shall see how much snow that old set actually sees. But I warned him that our home can’t be a refuge for barely used things. Those old skis better see some snow or they have to go.

We also hit up the second hand store and scored a good deal on some snow gear for the kids. We found a  few good pairs of boots. I have no idea how my kids lose boots. But every single year it happens. Don’t even get me started on gloves. I stock up on those suckers in February when they are 50% off.

We ended up needing 2 pairs of new shoes for the kids, which wasn’t bad out of a crew of 5. None of the kids are able to pass their shoes down. After 3 or 4 months, the shoes have basically dissolved. Again. I have no idea. I tried to lecture my kids on proper shoe use for a while. You can image how well that went. I will never get those minutes of my life back.

I had a big breakthrough this month.

We celebrated 3 birthdays in our house, and spent a total of $38. This is huge for me for a few reasons. One, we have been trying to focus our gift giving on experiences over things in an effort to continue with our moderate minimalism. We had a gift card to a trampoline place, and took our kids there with some friends to celebrate. I also baked a sheet cake, circa 1980’s birthday party. I had actually told them that we weren’t going to do any gifts. Just the one sharing gift from Opa and Oma (my parents), which they were fine with. I did end up surprising them each with one gift. A Pokémon book for my oldest ($8), and a skylander game figure ($6) for my 8 year old.

But here is why this was big for me.

When you grow up poor, there are two days a year where you try to pretend, to the best of your ability, that you are not poor. All the stress and struggle of the rest of the year is put on pause and you just get to be normal. One is your birthday, and the other is Christmas. Every other day can be scarcity and struggle, but not those two days. Those days are just supposed to me nice.

But my kids don’t feel that way at all. Every day is nice. They have their parents’ home with them. They have a warm and comfortable home. They have a nice winter coat, even if it’s the third one they have lost this year. Like magic we make another one appear. We travel and have adventures. Our cars don’t break down in the school parking lot in front of all their friends. So they were thrilled with the party and gifts. They thought it was awesome. They know they still have FAR too many toys, even though we have purged 50% of them.

My past isn’t my kids present.

I don’t have to buy 10 gifts per child so they don’t feel the lack and scarcity. They don’t need a whole pile of gifts to compensate for the pain of going without the rest of the year.

They don’t know lack. Or scarcity. They know nothing about going without.

So they were happy with 1 simple gift.

And for one of the first times, I was happy too.


For conversation:

Any hunters out there who have found dinner yet? What is up with kids and losing their winter gear? Maybe it’s just Motana kids, but if it hits 50 degrees on the playground, they strip off all the winter gear and abandon it in a pile. How do you approach birthday parties, gift giving, or dealing with a crap ton of toys?


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18 thoughts on “October Expenses

  1. Congrats Ms Montana! That’s such an awesome achievement, I’d find it a challenge to keep my entire expenses under $2,000 even just for me, but I do have roughly half of that going towards rent.

    • Having our house paid off is a huge help. We are still on the hook for taxes, maintenance, and utilities and that kind of stuff, but the no principal or interest is huge. For our place that would add an extra $800 easy.

  2. Congrats on the low expenses! And thanks for sharing!

    On winter gear…it depended on the kid at our house. My son lost everything. I’d hit the lost and found at school periodically to collect his things and always kept spares on hand. Now that he’s driving, we keep 6 sets of keys on hand. In his first month of having his license, he lost 3 keys (but he’s since recovered two of them and now has his keys on a lanyard).

    Now that they are older, our kids get $50 each (or the equivalent in gift form) for their birthdays. Parties are typically sleepovers with friends at our house – with lots of junk food and movies.

    • We let each kid pick what we make for dinner on their actual birthday. It’s so funny how exciting that is for them. One picked potstickers and mac and cheese (from the box of course!), my other boy is picking cheese pizza. I don’t think we have ever ordered a cheese pizza in this house. So he is thrilled. =)

  3. Your expenses are great, and I am so impressed that you made a pie chart! Is the misc money your savings?

    My daughter hasn’t lost any of her winter clothes yet but there’s time 🙂 do you put their names into them? I kind of drum it into her that she must not lose any of it! We just sold a bunch of her toys at a car boot sale (like a thrift/yard sale) and she was cool with it!

    • The misc was that ski maintenance. =) We do write the kids name of stuff. It’s gotten better. I started painting their names on their boots, and writing the names in Sharpie on the outside of the coats! =) We weren’t going to save this year, but have caved. I don’t put that into the expenses, but that isn’t a bad idea.

  4. My daughter loses mittens/gloves, but other than that, most other winter gear comes home eventually. Socks a, however, are a different story. And water bottles.

    Our October was a high month, between some serious car and rental maintenance and several Saturday excursions. Congrats on getting under $2K.

    • Oh gosh don’t even get me started on water bottles! There are somethings I have learned to accept. I can hold on to a nice water bottle for 2 or 3 years. My kids, maybe 2 or 3 months. I’m trying to be more understanding, and not let my frugal tendencies cause me be hard on them about it. They have actually still have the ones I bought for this year. 2.5 months in! I should probably give them an honest hug tonight and let them know I am proud of them. Gotta use positive reinforcement when you can!

  5. That’s great, congrats on keeping your average expenditures so much below your initial estimate!

    Best of luck finding that deer too. I’ve never hunted for deer, just various birds and have always enjoyed the low-cost harvest. How much meat will you get off an average deer? I have to imagine it would last for a quite a while.

    • Thanks, although I’m not sure it speaks highly of my estimating skills! =) Actually our expenses have dropped quite a bit since Mr. Mt left work. We cook from scratch more, he can fix more things around the house, ect. I was a bit surprise about the cost of living shift and the odd ways working was costing us extra.

      Depending on doe or buck, and size maybe 30-60 pounds. Elk or Mule maybe a bit more. We eat meet about 3x a week. And use 1-2 pounds for the whole family. Add in a bit of chicken or other things we find of sale and it lasts a good while. To me, it’s probably the most humane and healthy way to add meat to our diet. Mr. Mt and our oldest are going out today, so here to hoping. =)

    • Lost and found gets out of control. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if 50% of the winter gear items in the second hand stores is donated by lost and found. The schools can’t store it forever.

  6. Congrats on a great month! My kids also ditch their coats if it’s above 50 degrees! And they go through shoes like crazy–especially my boy.

    Great point about your kids not needing a lot on birthdays to make up for your childhood. My husband grew up with some underwhelming holidays when his family was struggling, and although he’s never gone overboard on gifts for the kids, I know his own experience makes him want a nice Christmas for the kids. Fortunately he gets them reasonable gifts on Craigslist.

    • I think that is a great point about wanting those days to be nice. Then remembering there are some affordable ways to make it nice. It’s doesn’t have to be $1000 nice. =) We are really trying to do more experiences and little things to make it special. Our kids don’t get to watch tv after school, so on their birthday day, they get to pick whatever show they would like to watch during dinner. And we make whatever dinner they ask for. They are over the top excited about both of those things.

  7. Congratulations! Under $2k is awesome. Groceries/Walmart are my kryptonite! Hoping my hubby gets some deer as well. We also have lots of wild hogs down here. We have a good sized pond stocked with catfish but we usually only get those in summer. Hoping to get a new deep freeze for inside the house since our old one costs a fortune to plug in.

    And shoes! We buy our kiddo new shoes every few months. They just get worn out. I’ve bought all different brands and price points – doesn’t seem to matter!

    For birthdays we also like to focus on experiences and a homemade cake. We will also usually take cupcakes or the like for a party at school. Kiddo is wanting to go to Medieval Times for his birthday in the spring so we’ll see. Even with coupons, it’s still crazy pricy.

    • Thanks so much for the comment! I feel you on the shoes. I feel like I have tried every brand, price point as well. The only ones I have much luck with are crocs. Even then I’m lucky if I can get 6 months of daily wear. But that doesn’t work here in the winter! Even the fuzzy lined ones aren’t any match for 6+ inches of snow. =)

  8. Sheet cake for birthdays, you are speaking my language!! I miss those sheet cakes. Except until I was a teen I didn’t know it came in more than one flavor because my parents only ever liked one kind of cake so that’s the only kind they served.

    We’re discovering the shoe dissolving right now – PiC just pointed out that JuggerBaby’s shoes will soon if they don’t already have holes worn through them. I think it’s a dead heat between when ze outgrows them or they completely lose all remaining structural integrity.

    If you want, email me what shoe sizes you’ll be into next, and what kind of shoes make sense for your crew. I have a pile of hand me down shoes here in pretty decent shape (since JuggerBaby hasn’t worn them!) that might be worth bundling up for you 🙂