September 2015 Monthly Budget Review

Try and picture this — it's a cold, rainy Saturday morning at the Nashville Farmer's Market. And I'm relaxing at the counter of Bella Nashville, my favorite local wood-fired pizza place. I'm directly in front of the fire, watching my margarita pizza bake, sipping a fresh cup of English breakfast iced tea.

Then, as if the moment couldn't be any more perfect, Oasis' Don't Look Back in Anger starts playing from their radio above the oven.

So, I'm humming along with this massive grin, almost completely unaware of those sitting on either side of me. And I'm thinking about how happy I'd be if every Saturday were exactly like this.

Fall always seems to bring out this wild sense of gratitude in me. And it has absolutely nothing to do with my monthly budget. But it still seemed worthy of sharing.

The September Monthly Budget

Ready for it? Here's my worst monthly budget in recent memory.

Excel spreadsheet of budget

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


Gifts: $8.49 (wedding card), $100 (wedding gift), $20 (housewarming gift)

Other One-Time Expenses: $522.99 (Santa Fe flight), $201.16 (car repairs), $114.74 (business cards), $159.50 (lawn care treatment), $300 (logo redesign), $163.97 (FinCon16 ticket), $65 (weight loss challenge fee), $856.88 (FinCon), $439.64 (Massachusetts wedding & Maine trip)

What more can I say? It was a really expensive month. And I hate that my expenses exceeded my income. But, that's going to happen once in a while. Ugh, moving on…

Other Goals

Cashville Skyline 

September posts: 3 (-1)

Twitter followers: 3,565 (+186)

Facebook likes: 291 (+22)

Google+ followers: 148 (+12)

Pinterest followers: 308 (+10)

Feedly subscribers: 92 (+11)

Email subscribers: 94 (+12)

Cumulative Adsense earnings: $146.14 (+$7.18)

When I got back from FinCon, I wrote about the importance of setting intentions. Because if you want to reach a goal, you have to put the work in. No excuses. And no regrets.

I've realized that once I reached my goal of changing careers, I stopped prioritizing Cashville Skyline. But I'm ready to change that. And I'm prepared to hustle harder.

Between now and next year's FinCon, I want to earn at least $10,000 in side income. Where will that money come from? A combination of blogging, freelance writing, and social media consulting. It's modest. Especially compared to what a lot of bloggers are bringing in. But, it's the first side income goal I've ever set! And, most importantly, it's achievable.


Two months ago, I read Tim Ferriss' The 4-Hour Body and dove into the slow-carb diet. The slow-carb diet eliminates grains, sugar, dairy, and alcohol. The focus is green vegetables, meat, and legumes. One cheat day per week is required.

September Wellness Numbers

Weight: 161.9 (-2)

Body Fat: 40.1% (-1.7%)

September Miles Run: 0 (no change)

September Steps: 129,116 (+41,795)

Graph of One Month's Weight Statistics

Ignoring the advice of most reasonable people I know, I've been weighing myself nearly every day for the past two months. Why? The slow-carb diet is an ongoing experiment to see how my body reacts to certain foods.

Despite the emotional roller coaster of this month's weight fluctuations (partially due to, ahem, lady stuff) I've noticed some clear trends:

My body reacts more negatively to carbs than a little bit of sugar. How do I know? Well, I've consumed things like vegetable tofu stir-fry, beef jerky, dry red wine, and have still managed lose weight. However, even the smallest amount of carbs seem to spike my weight.

Here's one example: Friday morning, I hit a weight loss low of 161.3! And Friday evening, I enjoyed Chuy's Shiner Bock beer sauteed fajitas (without tortillas, cheese, or sour cream). The next morning, my weight had jumped back up to 162.1. Coincidence? I think not.

Overall, the trendline has moved downward. The weight may not be falling off quickly, but it's pretty hard to argue the diet is having no effect.

Also, I've barely been exercising. So, I probably need to add that into the mix. Anyone looking for a Fitbit friend? You can find me here!

September Goals:

1. Continue progress with Cashville Skyline. SCORE!

2. Continue progress with the slow-carb diet. My next goal is dropping below 160. SO CLOSE!

October Goals:

1. Continue Cashville Skyline progress. Post at least twice per week.

2. Exercise, damn it! And drop below 160 pounds.

Readers: How was your September? What are your goals for October?

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Discussions — 48 Responses

  • Income Surfer October 5, 2015 on 6:33 am

    In spite of the busted budget Kate, you seem to be doing well. Plus, I know how much you enjoyed FinCon… that was a trip worth splurging on.
    Have a great week!

    • Kate Dore Income Surfer October 6, 2015 on 8:04 am

      Totally, Bryan! Any chance you’ll make it to San Diego? 🙂

  • Mel October 5, 2015 on 6:57 am

    I was so sorry I missed FinCon this year! You were definitely one of the folks I wanted to catch up with. $10,000 is an awesome goal. I feel like this is the first year I may be able to hustle about half of that from my blog.

    And if you’re looking for a FitBit buddy, I’ll totally be one, but your link is broken ;o) This is me:

    • Kate Dore Mel October 6, 2015 on 7:57 am

      Thanks so much for letting me know about the broken link, Mel. And you’ve been friended 🙂 Any chance you’ll be heading to San Diego next year?

  • Jim October 5, 2015 on 7:04 am

    If you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself to go on runs, change run to walk and listen to a podcast. I found that was a good way to get me started on setting a time each day for “activity.” At first it was walk, then it became run.

    I also find myself reacting (retaining water) to different foods so it’s likely that contributing to the weight fluctuations.

    • Kate Dore Jim October 6, 2015 on 7:56 am

      I love walking and listening to podcasts, Jim! Especially in the fall. Now that we’re getting closer to 2016, I’ve got to get my politics fix 🙂

  • Steve Miller October 5, 2015 on 7:24 am

    September was a bust for me financially too, hopefully the market will improve towards year end.

    On the exercise front, have you considered cycling? I’ve found I can easily keep my weight off if I cycle 2-3 times a week. I trained for a 50 mile ride last year and dropped about 15 pounds in the process. Now I just ride about 12 miles, 3 times a week and I keep the weight off.

    All the best!

    • Kate Dore Steve Miller October 6, 2015 on 7:54 am

      Cycling is a great idea! I’ve got a beautiful greenway near my house and the gym has some fantastic classes I’m not currently taking advantage of.

  • JC October 5, 2015 on 7:46 am

    My budget hasn’t been looking that great the past few months either but I should start to get back on track now that life is back to “normal”. And best of luck on bringing in $10k in side income. That’ll be truly amazing to see you progress towards that. I bring in some income but it’s nothing that makes me think I could quit and go full time into. Although admittedly I know very little about website design/monetizing a blog and I’m sure I’m leaving a lot on the table currently.

    • Kate Dore JC October 6, 2015 on 7:53 am

      I hear you, JC. Most of my side income is from freelance writing and social media consulting right now. I haven’t made much of an effort to monetize the blog itself. I’ve always been kind of scared of turning away readers.

  • Mrs SSC October 5, 2015 on 8:17 am

    Carbs get me too. I can eat ice cream every day (a small bowl), but if I have a bread or pasta heavy meal, I am up 2 lbs. But, its okay, because I like ice cream more!

    My husband and I keep talking about finally going to FinCon next year – but we have such trouble justifying the expense. It seems like it would be quite interesting though…

    • Kate Dore Mrs SSC October 6, 2015 on 7:51 am

      I want ice cream every day, Mrs. SSC! Maybe I should start experimenting with that. I highly recommend going to FinCon. Especially since it’s in San Diego next year! Maybe tack on some extra vacation days? 🙂

  • M from There's Value October 5, 2015 on 9:56 am

    Carbs are a real killer – I think it’s because they’re much more difficult for your body to process. I’d just replace the majority of them with high-quality fats instead i.e. coconut oil, grass-fed/free-range meats that are fatty, fish oils. Well done on getting started on the diet, it looks good.

    September was immense for us. Major dividend income was had, and the weather was magnificent right through until last night when the first clouds bringing the Autumn rain arrived…

    October’s goals are to plan my exercise routine more specifically to times, and to draw up a better household schedule.


    • Kate Dore M from There's Value October 6, 2015 on 7:50 am

      Love to hear September was great for you, M. It’s amazing how motivating even the smallest amount of dividend income can be! Best of luck with October.

  • Michelle October 5, 2015 on 11:55 am

    It was great hanging out at FinCon this year (again)! Good luck with your income goal – I think you can definitely do that.

    • Kate Dore Michelle October 6, 2015 on 7:47 am

      Thanks for the encouragement, Michelle. It was super fun hanging with you in Charlotte!

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach October 5, 2015 on 1:17 pm

    I love that you were singing don’t look back in anger. Appropriate! 🙂 Yup, looks like a pretty tough month! Why were your business cards so expensive? It’s good you are paying attention to those little details about your diet. Everyone reacts differently do different things. I think just avoiding simple sugar as much as possible is good for everyone though. Hope Oct is a great month for both of us!

    • Kate Dore Tonya@Budget and the Beach October 6, 2015 on 7:46 am

      Honestly, I’m not sure what happened with the business cards. Someone else ordered them for me and I obviously wasn’t paying close enough attention. Hopefully, next month will be a better month for the diet AND budget.

  • Hannah October 5, 2015 on 1:38 pm

    I like your new logo- I think it was worth the $300.

    On the exercise front, keep it up! I recently decided to add hill intervals to my workout routine because my son likes when I push him up the hill on his bike, but I get tired after 4-5 hills worth. Gotta be able to keep up with the kiddo for a few more years, he’s only 2!

    • Kate Dore Hannah October 6, 2015 on 7:45 am

      Thanks for the compliment, Hannah! I feel so much better about the new logo, too. And hill intervals can be brutal. I can’t imagine the amount of exercise you must get running after a two-year-old!

  • Cat@BudgetBlonde October 5, 2015 on 5:00 pm

    From what I’ve seen, September was a tough financial month for everyone. Maybe it’s because of the trip to FinCon in the middle of the month?

    • Kate Dore Cat@BudgetBlonde October 6, 2015 on 7:43 am

      Definitely, Cat. I have no doubt we’ll all make those expenses back. Hopefully at least threefold 🙂

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde October 5, 2015 on 5:11 pm

    I LOVE the specific goals you set for yourself around the blog! I just know you are going to accomplish them now. September was rough for me too because of FinCon and I have been hustling my butt off ever since making it worth my while. So far so good. I’m with you on Fall making me grateful. I feel like the cool air and changing leaves make me more appreciative for changes in life in general.

    • Kate Dore Shannon @ Financially Blonde October 6, 2015 on 7:42 am

      Thank you, Shannon! It’s great seeing everyone’s renewed sense of purpose after FinCon.

  • Maggie @ Northern Expenditure October 5, 2015 on 11:16 pm

    $10,000 in side income. That’s a great goal! September was rough on expenses (they’re so cheap compared to living in Alaska!), but most of them seemed like launching expenses. September is when you solidified your plans forward. That costs something. But I think you’ll see the payback big time! Good luck!

    • Kate Dore Maggie @ Northern Expenditure October 6, 2015 on 7:41 am

      Thank for the encouragement, Maggie! You’re right. I did spend a big chunk of business expenses — new logo, business cards, and FinCon. Hopefully, I can write some of that at tax time 🙂

  • Abigail @ipickuppennies October 6, 2015 on 10:35 am

    Ugh, sorry about the budget shortfall. Between missing some days at work and a few unexpected expenses while traveling, we’re barely breaking even this month.

    Congrats on the diet, though. And if it makes you feel better, I also weigh myself every day. Partly because it helps keep me on the straight and narrow with healthy eating. (Right now, I’m not doing great on that score, and some of the weight is retained water.) Partly to help me keep track of whether I’m sufficiently hydrated. Since I started the system, I’ve only gotten sick from dehydration once. So I’m going to keep on doing it.

    • Kate Dore Abigail @ipickuppennies October 7, 2015 on 7:10 pm

      Interesting, Abigail. I hadn’t considered the hydration aspect. And I’m definitely drinking tons of water. Here’s to a more profitable October for us both!

  • Jason Fieber October 6, 2015 on 12:23 pm


    Sounds like FinCon was definitely worth the splurge. And if you’re able to hit that $10k goal after the fresh motivation, it’ll turn out to be an excellent investment! 🙂

    Best of luck.


    • Kate Dore Jason Fieber October 7, 2015 on 7:11 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, Jason! FinCon was fantastic. Any chance we’ll see you in San Diego? 🙂

  • One Broke B October 6, 2015 on 2:11 pm

    I admire that you’ve begun to share your health/weight related goals also. I have been trying to shed some pounds but it seems like nothing has an impact–though it might be my inability to stick with a program very long. I’m starting some B12 injections this week (I have low B12 and apparently have trouble absorbing it through digestion). I’m hopeful that they will kick start my metabolism enough for me to see change and stick with a health goal!

    • Kate Dore One Broke B October 7, 2015 on 7:14 pm

      Sorry you’ve had trouble, One Broke B. And I know exactly how you feel. I actually stopped providing health updates for a while because I was making zero progress for so long. Let me know how things go with the B12 injections!

  • Gretchen October 7, 2015 on 6:21 am

    Loving your honesty about weight fluctuations due to *ahem* lady stuff….I feel your pain girl, I feel your pain! One-time expenses can be killer, but it sounds like your trip to FinCon will definitely pay for itself over the next year – so exciting!

    • Kate Dore Gretchen October 7, 2015 on 7:15 pm

      I know, right? The monthly fluctuations never seem to get any easier! Yes, I’m confident FinCon will pay for itself. Even if the upfront cost is a bit hard to swallow!

  • Derek at MoneyAhoy October 7, 2015 on 7:13 am


    That stinks that you busted your budget for the month. But, as you pointed out this will happen from time-to-time. As long as the overall trend is intact it’s nothing to worry about.

    Those are really nice adsense numbers in terms of earnings. Also, it seems like your social presence is really growing. Nice work with that!

    You didn’t mention that you were looking for health advice, but I will give you some anyways around the health and slow carb diet. If you find you aren’t getting the results you want or you hit a plateau, then I would suggest you check out 21 Day Fix. My wife and I had been doing the slow carb diet for nearly 2 years. It was decent, but we really leveled off and could really get that last 10 pounds off. My wife has struggled to get below 150 Lbs for years! Anyways, we got 21 Day Fix and have actually been doing that for 42 days coming up (on the second round). My wife has lost over 10 pounds and so have I. She has not weighed this little since before highschool. The main difference is the 21 Day Fix will give you smaller portions and about 30 mins of exercise a day (if you can find the time for it). I think the real difference is in the smaller portions as I have skipped a lot of the exercise and still seen awesome results. You can get your own containers like we did and get the DVDs cheaper off eBay. If you are at all interested and have questions, you can email me to discuss more.

    I would be interested to see and hear more about FinCon. Do you feel like you got a good return on your investment by attending? It looks like your expenses for that were >$900? That is basically one or two months income for my blog, and I didn’t feel like the trade-off would be worth it for me. I’d love to hear your insights if you have the time to write about it 🙂

    • Kate Dore Derek at MoneyAhoy October 7, 2015 on 7:22 pm

      Yes, FinCon absolutely paid off last year. And if you think about it, one really great client or connection can pay for the entire thing! It’s great to meet so many other bloggers, media, and spread awareness about your blog. Plus, it’s really reinvigorated my excitement about blogging in general. And if that’s not enough, would a tax-deductible trip make it worth it? 🙂

      • Derek at MoneyAhoy Kate Dore October 13, 2015 on 8:10 am


        Thanks for the feedback on FinCon. It sounds like I need to plan to attend next year and stop making excuses 🙂

  • Holly@ClubThrifty October 7, 2015 on 7:36 am

    My metabolism is the same way! I can eat natural carbs all day long, but I gain weight if I even look at bread! I eat low carb most of the time now. I do fine with a little bit of sugar, but I stay away from bread and baked goods.

    • Kate Dore Holly@ClubThrifty October 7, 2015 on 7:24 pm

      It’s rough, huh? Especially since carbs are so delicious! I could eat pasta or rice for every meal.

  • Chonce October 7, 2015 on 8:47 am

    I love your side hustle income goal! FinCon really pumped me up to pick up the pace and work toward earning more as well. The slow-card diet that you’re on sounds great. My weakness is probably sugar meaning candy and juice. I’ve been drinking way more water though and as always, I need to stay active.

    • Kate Dore Chonce October 7, 2015 on 7:26 pm

      That’s awesome, Chonce! I was eating chocolate almost every day before I started this. Every day around 3 PM when my energy level dipped, I’d reach for my office’s candy drawer!

  • Erin @ Journey to Saving October 7, 2015 on 2:21 pm

    Fall inspires the same feelings for me! It must be something in the air. 😉 I love how detailed you are about monitoring how the diet is working for you. I’m strongly considering attempting an experiment with gluten-free food as I’ve noticed I’m reacting badly to things like pasta and pizza (which aren’t healthy to begin with, eep). I think $10,000 is doable, and I’m right there with you on setting goals that are realistic for YOU.

    Now that the cooler weather is here, I’m determined to get back into a walking routine. I don’t have a Fitbit, but I’ll be cheering you on! Good luck!

    • Kate Dore Erin @ Journey to Saving October 7, 2015 on 7:27 pm

      That’s awesome, Erin! I’m really looking forward to following your progress over the next year. Like I’ve said, it sounds like you have a lot of exciting things on the horizon.

  • Our Next Life October 7, 2015 on 5:50 pm

    Love the ambitious goal. We’re bad at that, though it’s meant that we’ve consistently underpromised and overdelivered on our annual finances. 🙂 Until this year, of course… boo, bad markets! Bad markets!

    Don’t sweat the water weight gain from a beer. That’s not real weight gain or loss, but just fluid retention. Though if you don’t like feeling bloated, that’s a plenty good reason on its own to avoid grains. I have to be gluten-free (celiac) and sometimes feel like I’d happily trade my left arm for a beer. 🙂

    We signed up for FinCon next year, and expect high numbers from it like you have here — the hotel is so expensive! Hoping to figure out ways to hack that down a bit between now and then.

    • Kate Dore Our Next Life October 7, 2015 on 7:34 pm

      I hear you! The markets have been rough. I’m not looking forward to calculating my quarterly net worth update. Thanks for the diet encouragement and I’ll definitely look forward to meeting y’all in San Diego!

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