December 2015 Monthly Budget Review

2016 arrived clumsily.

A dear friend was visiting for several days from San Francisco. And that meant more excitement than usual — getting wine drunk while watching old Mitch Hedberg specials, ice skating outside in downtown Nashville, house parties, and endless amounts of brunching.

It was super fun! But the non-stop hang time left me totally exhausted. He arrived the day after I got back from Massachusetts. So there wasn't time for my usual quiet, end of the year reflection.

But that's exactly how life should be, right? Important moments aren't going to happen as expected. And we're much better off because of it.

Plus, sometimes you really need to step away from the f*cking computer and spend the afternoon drinking mimosas with your friends.

The December Monthly Budget

So I was feeling super Grinchy when I came home to all of my mother's holiday decorations. But my family's gift-free Christmas went better than I expected.

Instead of rushing to open gifts, we enjoyed a relaxed morning sipping coffee in the kitchen. A holiday that once centered around gifts was filled with other things — delicious brunch foods, visiting a nearby alpaca farm, and watching the full moon rise on the beach.

Since I managed to snag a cheap flight in November, I spent almost nothing on Christmas. My gift-free holiday and a surprise bonus meant I was able to save more than any previous December.

Excel spreadsheet for expenses

Note: mortgage, alarm system, internet, electric, water, gas, household, and coffee numbers reflect one-half of the total bill. I live with my boyfriend, so we split these expenses.

Last month, I started using Personal Capital to check my expenses and track my net worth. And I love seeing all my accounts in one place!

Note: If you sign up for a free account through my affiliate link above, I may receive a small bonus. I'd never recommend a product I don't save time with and enjoy!


Personal Care: $15.71 (cold stuff), $12.97 (mouthwash & toilet paper)

Household: $2.88 (cleaning products)

Gifts: $100 (owed mother for my father's birthday gift), $38.24 (friend's housewarming gift), $13.11 (wine for party), $20 (friend's going away present), $26.21 (wine for Christmas parties)

Other One-Time Expenses: $13.77 (domain renewal), $64.92 (Facebook advertising)

Other Goals

Cashville Skyline 

December posts: 3 (+2)

Twitter followers: 4,094 (+130)

Facebook likes: 627 (+212)

Google+ followers: 160 (+1)

Pinterest followers: 384 (+20)

Feedly subscribers: 106 (+6)

Cumulative Adsense earnings: $174.25 (+$8.75)

Side Income

When I got back from FinCon, I wrote about the importance of setting intentions. Because if you want to make progress, you have to be specific.

Three months ago, I set a goal of earning $10,000 side income before next year's FinCon. This income will come from a variety of sources including:

– Blogging
– Freelance writing
– Social media consulting
– Dividends from my taxable portfolio
– Selling stuff
– And more!

So how's my progress looking?

September – $350.72
October – $858.61
November – $738.71
December – $823.32
Total – $2,771.36

I've got $7,228.64 more to go. So I need to earn $903.58 per month for the next 8 months to reach my goal.


Looking at my weight graph from the past several months, it's easy to see where I got off track. I reached a low weight (under 160) right before November. But back-to-back trips to Las Vegas and San Antonio threw me off. And I never recovered through the holidays.

I want to be healthier. But clearly, it hasn't been a priority. Am I ready to start feeling better? Do I want to have more energy? I think so.

Yesterday, I went for a short jog in the park. It was only for a half a mile. And it felt so good to be outdoors, alone in the cold. It's hardly a lifestyle change. But it's a start.

December Wellness Numbers

Weight: 166.4 (+4.2)

December Miles Run: 0 (no change)

December Steps: 77,853 (-40,227)

Pink Line Graph of Weight from July - December

December Goals:

1. Prepare for working from home by de-cluttering, establishing a dedicated workspace, and creating a new daily routine! PASS

January Goals:

Instead of setting specific goals, I'd like to shift my focus to being more mindful about balance and self-care. Working from home makes it easy to fall back into my old patterns.

I'd love to eventually establish one screen-free day a week (maybe Saturdays) to recharge and spend more time outdoors. Have you tried it?

Readers: How was your December? What are your goals for the first month of 2016? 

Enjoying what you’ve read? Connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest!

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Discussions — 38 Responses

  • Brian @DebtDiscipline January 11, 2016 on 7:05 am

    Looks like a good month! We had a good December as well. Hoping to kick off the new year with a goof first month. Back to basics, building wealth!

    • Kate Dore Brian @DebtDiscipline February 1, 2016 on 9:00 am

      Amen, Brian! I hope January treated you well.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach January 11, 2016 on 8:35 am

    It’s so hard to eat well during the holidays, especially if you add traveling to the mix. I love your low key Christmas though, and awesome job on the savings!

    • Kate Dore Tonya@Budget and the Beach February 1, 2016 on 8:59 am

      Thanks for the encouragement, Tonya! I struggle with healthy eating all year, so I can’t blame too much on the holidays 😉

  • Mike @ January 11, 2016 on 11:48 am

    Love your goal for January. Everything I try to do or accomplish seems to always come back to just being more mindful and honest with myself and others. Love it.

    P.S. – How great is Mitch Hedberg? Getting wine drunk while watching Mitch Hedberg youtube clips would definitely rank up there as a great life moment in my book. 🙂

    • Kate Dore Mike @ February 1, 2016 on 8:58 am

      So true, Mike! Mindfulness and honesty are so important. And, yes, Mitch Hedberg never, ever gets old.

  • Steve Miller January 11, 2016 on 12:01 pm

    Great job on your side hustle income. And you posted your weight, good for you! Happy New Year.

    • Kate Dore Steve Miller February 1, 2016 on 8:57 am

      Thanks, Steve! Holding myself publicly accountable with my weight hasn’t been quite as helpful as it has been with my finances. Hopefully, 2016 is my year to change this!

  • Gretchen January 11, 2016 on 2:24 pm

    This, Is. Awesome. There are so many things I could say, but I’ll leave it at the fact that you are a savings rockstar!!!!

    • Kate Dore Gretchen February 1, 2016 on 8:55 am

      Aw, thank you Gretchen! 🙂

  • Derek at MoneyAhoy January 11, 2016 on 4:06 pm

    It looks like you are doing a great job with income overall. If you don’t mind my asking, what was the facebook advertising for?

    I put on a few pounds in December too, so don’t feel bad 🙂 I have found that portion control works the best for me to drop a couple pounds because it is hard to commit to routine exercise.

    I like your idea about one screen-free day a month. That would be a good challenge for me as well to force myself to get outside.

    • Kate Dore Derek at MoneyAhoy February 1, 2016 on 8:55 am

      I’ve been experimenting with promoting select Facebook posts. Sometimes I’ll promote a post to generate more engagement and then pin that post to the top of my profile. I’m definitely still learning, though. The tools are constantly changing!

  • Jen @ Frugal Millennial January 12, 2016 on 10:16 am

    Great job! It is hard to stick with healthy eating during the holidays and while traveling. That’s understandable. Awesome job with the savings!

    • Kate Dore Jen @ Frugal Millennial February 1, 2016 on 8:52 am

      Thank you, Jen! I hope January treated you well 🙂

  • Suladys January 12, 2016 on 3:44 pm

    Wow! I love this, you literally have everything laid out so that it’s easy to read and understand and my head didn’t want to explode with numbers! I think I actually might start doing this on my blog! Do you mind if I share a link to you on one of my posts!? Absolutely love this!

    • Kate Dore Suladys February 1, 2016 on 8:50 am

      Thank you! And absolutely. You are more than welcome to share any of my posts! 🙂

  • Abigail @ipickuppennies January 12, 2016 on 5:59 pm

    It’s easy to get off track weight-wise — at any point in time. I went on a candy binge between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. I didn’t gain much, thankfully, but the sugar cravings lately haven’t been great.

    I’ve been very happy with my workout progress. I’m able to do walking videos most days that I intend to, though I took this full weekend off due to lethargy. I’m trying not to push too hard, lest it start to feel onerous and overwhelming.

    My short-term goal is to get my Adsense up to cashing out each month. This month is incredibly disappointing so far, especially compared to last month. But we’ll see what happens as I flesh out my Pinterest and such. Here’s hoping anyway.

    I’d like to make $5,000 this year from the blog. If I can get to $10k, I’d be thrilled. I’m looking into more advertisers and affiliates to make that possible — without selling anything that I don’t believe in, which is the hard part.

    • Kate Dore Abigail @ipickuppennies February 1, 2016 on 8:48 am

      That’s awesome about your workout progress, Abigail. $5,000 from your blog is amazing. And $10,000? Double amazing. You’re obviously doing a lot of stuff right. Keep up the great work!

  • Tawcan January 12, 2016 on 6:18 pm

    Looks like a great month. I know what you mean by weight, I was down to about 73 kg in early 2015 (lowest I’ve been in like 15 years) but now back to around 76 kg. Like you, I need to focus on generating more side income. Would love to attend this year’s FinCon in San Diego.

    • Kate Dore Tawcan February 1, 2016 on 8:45 am

      You should definitely try to attend FinCon in San Diego! My first one changed everything.

  • Cat@BudgetBlonde January 12, 2016 on 6:49 pm

    Sometimes these spontaneous events can be stressful, especially if you thrive on having a routine, but they are definitely what makes life fun and interesting!

    • Kate Dore Cat@BudgetBlonde February 1, 2016 on 8:42 am

      Totally! And having a friend randomly stop by gives you the chance to actually explore your city. It really makes you appreciate the stuff you don’t get out enough to do.

  • Melanie @ Dear Debt January 12, 2016 on 9:33 pm

    The holidays were a mess for me too! But you are killing it with saving and side hustling! And cheers to more wellness this year. That’s one of my words to focus on this year.

    • Kate Dore Melanie @ Dear Debt February 1, 2016 on 8:40 am

      Thanks, Melanie! I’m realizing wellness is a life-long struggle. But the extra effort does seem to be worth it.

  • Jim Wang January 13, 2016 on 2:53 pm

    “2016 arrived clumsily.” — what a great first sentence. 🙂

    • Kate Dore Jim Wang February 1, 2016 on 8:38 am

      Thanks, Jim! It seemed appropriate 🙂

  • Alyssa January 14, 2016 on 2:44 pm

    Okay, how awesome are you at side hustles, because that is looking like something I need to get in on. Also – I love your goal for one “screen-free” day a week. I wish that was more possible, but I feel like with my work it’s something I can’t maintain. Maybe I’ll go with one “screen-free” day a month! Loved this post.

    • Mrs Lewis Alyssa January 16, 2016 on 11:05 pm

      I agree, a screen free day sounds divine. Don’t your eyes feel exhausted from jumping from tv to phone to computer to tablet all day!?!

      • Kate Dore Mrs Lewis February 1, 2016 on 8:27 am

        Honestly, yes! I think I need to start with a screen free period of time each day. I know the light from my iPhone is costing me sleep every night.

    • Kate Dore Alyssa February 1, 2016 on 8:35 am

      Thanks, Alyssa! I totally understand where you’re coming from. Managing social media is kind of a 24/7 thing. So it makes it difficult for me to unplug. One screen-free day a month sounds like a great start!

  • Willy @ Finance Petra January 15, 2016 on 9:16 am

    Nice year Kate, thanks for advice about Personal Capital, but I am old fashion guy who likes to put his calculation in book and keep it.
    I tried once to use Personal Capital, but soon I quit since my finances are quite simple and most of them are in my head.

    • Kate Dore Willy @ Finance Petra February 1, 2016 on 8:33 am

      I’m sorry you had a bad experience with Personal Capital, Willy. I still enjoy my trustful Excel spreadsheets, though. So I can definitely understand where you’re coming from!

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde January 15, 2016 on 9:58 am

    We had a great holiday season but I don’t feel like I really rested and now this year is off to a crazy start including me getting an awful stomach bug so I feel far behind only two weeks in. I’m hoping to fully recover this weekend and really hit my stride next week.

    • Kate Dore Shannon @ Financially Blonde February 1, 2016 on 8:32 am

      Ugh, I hate that, Shannon. The holidays never feel restful. And I started the year the exact same way. I hope you’re feeling a lot more on track at this point.

  • Mrs Lewis January 16, 2016 on 11:04 pm

    Great progress! Where do you find most of your freelance work comes from? I’ve heard people have their “hire me” pages, use elance, pro blogger but I’m curious what the most effective method is for people. Looking forward to see how you progress!

    • Kate Dore Mrs Lewis February 1, 2016 on 8:30 am

      My new clients have come from a variety of places. But going to FinCon is what’s been most helpful. It’s a tight-knit community. And once you start working with one client, it’s easy to build from there. Referrals from other freelancers and social media have been really beneficial to me lately.

  • Michael Belk January 20, 2016 on 8:42 am

    Kate, your records keeping is great. Nashville is a great city. You have inspired me to keep better records. I love how you make every attempt to stick to your budget amounts. Every penny counts.

    • Kate Dore Michael Belk February 1, 2016 on 8:25 am

      Aw, that’s amazing to hear, Michael. And thank you so much for the encouragement! 🙂