By Kelsey on January 24, 2013 48

Our Financial Forecast for 2013

One of my favorite parts of our annual family meeting is when we forecast our big financial expenditures for the upcoming year. I thought it might be helpful for you to see what sorts of things we talk about and plan for.

We start by dreaming and brainstorming. Eric and I each get to bring up things we’d like to buy in the coming year. Sometimes we discuss things and decide they need to wait a couple years before we can get them. Either way, it’s a great time to have a rational discussion.

Then we put dollar amounts next to the line items. It’s kind of scary to see how much we have to save for them each month. But we cut other things out (lunches out during the week, cable) so that we can make these other things happen. With hopes I’m not oversharing, here’s what we’re saving for this year.



  • Weekend trip to Minneapolis in late March - already saved for
  • Okoboji trip in July - $300
  • Weekend trip to ??? in September for my 30th birthday – $500

Major Purchases


What are you saving for this year?



I love my husband, my kids and the Internet.

  1. Every year, we tend to go over budget with our gifts whether it be Christmas or birthdays or what have you. So, we’re putting aside a small chunk of money every month for that.

    We don’t have cable, either, so we can afford other things! We don’t even miss it :)

    • Gifts is something we typically go over, too. We are usually close, but maybe $50 off. It’s hard to anticipate all the wedding and baby showers you will be invited to that far in advance!

  2. You can get a way cheaper bike than $700…

    Also-only $60 for two weddings? That seems a little cheap, especially compared to your budgets for other things…..

    • I am hoping to call the bike shop ahead of time and get a discontinued or floor model (so hopefully it will actually be much cheaper), but we are saving $700 just in case there isn’t one available when we make the trip to get it in March (it’s in Minneapolis, four hours away). I originally wanted a cheaper bike, but with bikes you definitely get what you pay for! We did A LOT of research and test-rode a few different ones 1.5 years ago. So it’s a purchase we have been planning for a LONG time and we are OK spending that much. I have never paid for a bike before (I won my current mountain bike 12 years ago). Eric got a new bike last year and I have been waiting SEVERAL years for a new one, so this is my year and I am going to get one that will last.

      The $60 is for gifts for one of the two weddings we have this June. We don’t have to get hotel rooms for either one. We are photographing the other wedding, so that is our gift to them.

      The point of this post is to show others what types of things can be planned for in advance to make the big purchases less scary.

  3. Doing a financial forecast is SUCH a good idea, Kelsey! For some reason I haven’t thought of this before!

  4. Oooh, I wonder where you’ll go for your birthday!! I turn 30 this year too… my best girlfriends are out of commission (one will have a newborn, the other will be on probation with a new job) so I don’t know what I want to do! My mom also turns 50 right before, so I thought maybe she and I could do a 3 day cruise or something together… I guess I should investigate that and start saving! :D

    • I always said I’d go to Vegas for it…but now I’m thinking Kansas City, Minneapolis or Chicago. Chicago would be more expensive, probably. I just want to shop shop shop and eat out :) I need to start saving my personal money so I can have fun while shopping!

  5. $300 seems like such a lot of money for a KID’S BIRTHDAY PARTY. What are you planning on spending all that on?

    • At first I thought it sounded like a lot, too. We’re actually planning to spend $200-300, but we want to be prepared with $300. It will be mostly spent on food, decor and gifts for Rooney. I bought some milk bottles to use as glasses for the party (which will be reused for future parties and showers) and may get some silk flowers that can also be reused. There will be 25 family members at our house for lunch and cupcakes/ice cream.

    • We easily spend $200 on our children’s parties. When you provide a meal for a large group of people, the food alone will eat up $100-plus. Then, you add in cost of invites and postage, decorations, and a gift…$300 is a safe budget, especially for a super special and exciting 1st birthday!!

      • Thanks for your input, Carrie! I’ve never planned a kid’s birthday party, so I wasn’t sure exactly what we’d spend. We even did an evite for the invitation to try to save some money.

  6. Wow, I just want to say sorry for the snarky comments on this post.

    Your financial posts are my favorite, and I love when you keep it real with real numbers. Not so I can compare my family’s budget to yours, but to just get more perspective.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Bethany! It is hard to share personal information only to met by others who disagree or disapprove. But it’s people like you who keep us blogging :)

  7. I kind of thought $300 for a party sounded low…and it’s the big first birthday anyhow! :) And for the bike, I’m sure it’s true that you’ll definitely get what you pay for. After all, it’s like another vehicle ;) Thanks for posting this – definitely got me thinking about how planning can sort of allow you to do more with your money in the long run and save in some senses. Win win!

  8. I love this post! It takes a lot of courage to actually put the numbers out there. We always try to overestimate too, it is way better than trying to cut other things to make up for it. Keep up the great work (:

  9. Hey, Kels, don’t let it bother you. You don’t need to justify yourself. It’s your life, it’s your money – spend it the way you guys decide for your family. You are only telling the way it is for your situation. People are free to agree or disagree with you and to spend their money the way they see fit — but it is unfortunate that they feel the need to be so critical of your choices.

  10. I had simliar thoughts to some people too. Too little for wedding presents, too much for bike, too little for birthday party. So I can see no one has the same thoughts about spending money and therefore whatever is fine with you is the right choice.
    Thank you for sharing such personal information, it is really helpful!

    • Thanks, Lilly. I appreciate your openness. I definitely don’t think people need to agree with me, I’d just like to keep the conversation respectful!

  11. Honestly, part of being “frugal” is also buying smart. For example: Are clothes at Forever21 cheap? Yes. And you will (typically) get what you pay for as opposed to buying the same type of thing at a different, more expensive store. (Obviously, this is not always the case. Don’t get me wrong!) That being said, I don’t think spending $700 on a bike is out of the question at all. You obviously don’t plan or want to buy a new bike every year – so if you buy right the first time, you’ll never have to buy again. That will equal a lot more in savings – which a lot of people forget. Further, I’m sure you guys save in other areas that allow you to spend more on items you wish to splurge on. Budgeting is often a give and take in that sense.

    Also, I don’t think $300 for your party sounds like too much at all! Feeding 25 people will be expensive to begin with – let alone decorating and buying gifts for your little lady!

    I think it is great that you are sharing your budget information. No one can learn anything from anyone if they don’t get the full story, right? Thanks for sharing, guys! I think it is a great idea to plan ahead and it is something I am trying to work on this year, as inspired by both of you! :)

    • I love this, Katie. You totally get it.

      Even over at Snappy Casual, I noticed that people like the idea of “quality over quantity” when it’s discussed, but they don’t like when they see that I bought a chambray shirt at Madewell for $57 (on sale!!!) because they would rather be able to get it at Target for $20. Yes, I love Target, and I wear some clothing from there, but it doesn’t fit me as well OR last as long! OK, enough rambling… :)

  12. I think this is an awesome post! And $300 doesn’t seem unreasonable at all! :) can’t wait to see the birthday party pics! I am a sort of closet reader(i never post) but I so enjoy reading! We are expecting our first in March and I have read so many of your pregnancy, nursery posts! And, we copied the ‘let her sleep…’ canvas! Keep blogging…and being real and honest! We love it down here in Austin!

  13. If someone thinks $60 is cheap for two weddings, then they would be in shock for what I spend. I spend much less. :)

    And I think your bike idea is great and is an investment in health! I’d love to get a bike that lasts. The hunk of junk in my garage was a waste of money.

    Ignore the snarks. You have a great blog and I love reading it. Keep up the great work!

  14. Kudos to you for sharing this. I agree with earlier comments that this takes courage. The amounts and categories will be different for everyone! Duh!

    • Exactly. I in no way think ALL people should spend $700 on a bike or $300 on a birthday party, but that is what we’re choosing right now … and I think people should be OK with that! :)

  15. Thanks for being so open about your finances and sharing specifically how y’all manage them. These money posts are my favorite!

  16. This post hit me over the head like a piano in one of those Looney Tune cartoons, duh, plan for your expense for the year! We just got our W2 and I was amazed at how much we made and how little we had left over. My husband and I bought the family playbook but have yet to carve out a time to sit down, but seeing this post motivates me even more. Thanks for putting it all out there… by the way, the knitted stockings are totally cute!

  17. Thanks for sharing! My husband and I also go through and make budgets for EVERYTHING, including annual expenses. It just makes life so much less stressful :) Also, we spent $800 on my road bike and I love it. I’m glad I didn’t settle for a cheap bike, especially since I rode it everyday during the summer. It really does make all the difference. We waited until the fall when all the new models came out, and we saved $200 (it was originally $1000) since they clearanced all the previous year’s models. Anyway, great plan :)

  18. Thanks for the post– very interesting & helpful for us as a newly married couple! Question (possibly very dumb)– when you save for each, how exactly do you do it? Do you have specific accounts for each, or an actual tangible envelope? Do you use anything like Just wondering, sorry if you’ve covered it before. My problem with saving is that it’s hard to get from the mentality of money just growing in my checking account after each paycheck vs. actually saving it in a specific place for something specific, if that makes sense :)

  19. Love the family meeting idea! My partner and I have a similar meeting on a monthly basis to plan short term and long term financial goals since both he an I have trouble budgeting. We’ve found the website extraordinarily helpful! It syncs your bank accounts, student loans, investment accounts, etc all to one budgeting site. It allows your to categorize each transaction and even split transactions if you spend money on personal care items and groceries in the same visit to the store. It also allows you to set your own budgets and sends you alerts when you’re coming close to your budget or hac gone over. My favorite part about it is that you can set financial goals and it breaks down how much you have to save each month to achieve your goal! And it has a smartphone app so you can’t really stalk your budgets from anywhere! :-)

  20. Grandma Williams January 25, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Can you budget a trip to Las Cruces, NM? We love you and miss you. No one else in the family can budget to come and see us, but that’s what we have to live with because we moved so far away. God Bless your beautiful family.Just a thought, maybe you could come and teach in our church on budgeting.

  21. We’re really good at our monthly budget, but not so great about thinking ahead for the random expenses. Because we both do some freelancing on the side, we use that money for the extras. But now that we have a baby, we only have so much times, so we’re both cutting back and we need to think through these types of expenses. Christmas definitely snuck up on us this year! So this post is timely and a good reminder.!

    As a side note, we have a friend who spent $11,000 on one of his bikes–so now anything less than $1000 sounds Iike a bargain. :)

  22. Good information. Lucky me I came across your blog by chance
    (stumbleupon). I’ve saved as a favorite for later!

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