Closing Out the Books for November

Yeah for us!

After two frustrating months of being over budget while we were in the UK, we had a very good month in November and ended up with a daily spending average of $29.93! We had an overall daily spending average for our entire three months in the UK of $38.30, not where we hoped to be but not as bad as it could have been.

The main reason November was a less expensive month was that other than our quick trip to Bath and another over to Stratford-upon-Avon, we really didn’t go anywhere. We didn’t even get out that much in Blockley! While the gloomy weather was frankly depressing and kept us indoors much of the time, it also meant there were fewer chances for spending. Winding down our food shopping at the end of our stay helped to keep costs down as well. Our daily average was low enough that our (expensive) dinner at the village cafe, our travel day spending, and a quick trip to Trader Joe’s after we arrived in Portland didn’t take us over $30.

We’re sticking with our $35/day spending average in December. While food spending is going to be higher than usual this month it’s really our only expense other than gas for the minivan. Being very careful and sticking to our list is going to be key to not going over budget this month (we’ve done a good job of this so far). I’ve made a menu for when the girls are here, but they all still have big appetites and I hope everything I’ve planned will be enough for them without us having to overspend. We hope to be able to go out together once for dim sum, but a trip over to IKEA for some Swedish meatballs may be all we can afford (thankfully the girls love those meatballs).

12 thoughts on “Closing Out the Books for November

  1. Reducing food costs continues to challenge me. And having kids home for the holidays does indeed ramp up the bill. Plus we are all in the holiday spirit and want everyone to have their “favorites”. Oy. I’m working to keep us on track for the first half of the month anyway. Ha!


    1. It’s always a challenge to keep costs down when the girls are with us because a) they have big appetites, and b) they request particular dishes for nostalgia sake that aren’t always the least expensive. I menu plan, which helps, but it’s still always a struggle. We’re going to Costco next week – that’s the trip that really has the potential to explode the budget. If we stick to our list we’ll OK (I hope). This year we’re not planning any special outings, restaurant meals, etc. which should help our bottom line as well.


  2. It is very easy to overspend for family gatherings and especially at holidays. Good for you two for making lists, a budget and setting goals. Your experience has shown you what you need to do.

    We have a big goal for 2020 and that is “updating” our full baths—one at a time. I am hoping for minimal but updated. We are trying not to get sucked into going all out which equates to bigger spends. We wish to keep & re-grout the tile, new counter tops, new sinks, new glass shower doors and new fixtures, remove popcorn ceiling and paint. The second bath needs wallpaper—removed! At present we will not undertake to do this ourselves.

    We are not clear on realistic costs but will get estimates and recommendations. Yes we did go to a “design” shop but at the point someone wanted to come out to see the space…my gut told me I did not want to be seduced by what may be shown. Once I realized that I had a huge feeling of relief! It will not take as much to take the bathrooms out of the 1990’s (when home built) to now.

    It is good to keep budgets in mind and/or to begin with the end in sight. And that is great your girls were part of those efforts when they were younger. We certainly teach by what we do.

    Since they too have been away from Portland they may have lists of things to do & places to see. Of course you already know it’s family time they want! You must be so proud of how they have matured.

    Enjoy time there before you & Brett are off again….on your next adventure.


    1. Not sure if you are a candidate for it, but you might look into painting over wallpaper. In our guest bath the wallpaper had not been sized and was essentially glued onto the sheetrock. Any attempt at removal would have damaged the walls. I believe that our contractor used an epoxy product and then textured the walls (to match our other textured walls) before painting. The project turned out great and we were saved a large expense.


      1. Thank you for that advice! So glad it is the only wallpaper left from the second owner of our home…


    2. We’vemade lists, lists and more lists, and are sticking to them – hopefully this will be the thing that helps us maintain our budget. We also let the girls know a while ago that Christmas would be a smaller affair this year and they’re onboard with that.

      I don’t envy your renovations. We had a bathroom done in our first house, but had to watch the contractor like a hawk and ended up spending more than our budget. We had hired him because he did our friends’ bathroom and did a beautiful job, and came in on budget. For us though he messed up so many things and we were constantly having to pay more for everything or being double-charged (we discovered later he was remodeling his own bathroom and overcharged us for almost everything to pay for his). We got a lot of it straightened out, but our friends were appalled – they still apologize when we see them.


  3. Good planning and best of luck sticking to it! Personally I can’t imagine how I would manage to spend only $35/day but of course, my situation is different. It’s the small things that add up, aren’t they?


    1. I think the way to think about it is that we’re not going out and spending. $35 times 31 days is $1085, and that covers food, transportation, dining out, admissions, etc. Housing and utilities are covered separately out of our income. So, this month we budgeted $800 for food, which leaves $285 for gasoline, haircuts and miscellaneous. We’re actually hoping to keep the food shopping somewhere closer to $700 but gave ourself some wiggle room just in case. Anyway, it’s not as stifling as it sounds, but we still have to be careful. All the traveling we did in September and October was hard on the budget because we ate out a bit more than usual.


  4. Good job on the budgeting and setting goals. Yeah, the sticking to them with kids at home can be tough. So I missed where you’re staying this time in Portland?? Hopefully you’re close enough to get to IKEA with no problem. I went through your archives to see the kinds of things you did in Strasbourg in preparation for our spring trip to the Alsace region. Any other tips would be greatly appreciated. We won’t be there as long as you–we’re doing an 8-day walk through the region and then stopping in the city for four days. What I really want to know is where you go those flower ice cream cones!


    1. We’re staying up in Maywood Park this time, in NE, and we’re very close to IKEA and the airport, although the house is quiet – we barely hear the planes if at all. We’re also very close to a WinCo and a Target, and the NE Costco. Trader Joe’s and New Seasons Market are a bit further away though. We have to go over to NW for a couple of errands though and will stop in both stores while we’re over there.

      In Strasbourg, we recommend touring the cathedral, and the Museum Oeuvre Notre Dame, located nearby. The Alsace Museum is pretty terrific as well. A self walking tour through the Petite France area is easy to do as well, and a trip out to the Orangerie is worthwhile as is the European Union campus (you can walk from one to the other). As for eating, be sure to try a Tarte Flambe, and if it’s in the budget, charcroute at Porcus, located in the center of town. I don’t remember the name, but the ice cream shop is located on the street that runs directly up to the Cathedral, Rue Merciere. The shop is on the right as you go away from the Cathedral. Strasbourg is very flat and walkable!


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