Why do I do a monthly status report?
I find it best to do a monthly status report for a few reasons.
- It helps me evaluate how I did the previous month. Did I hit a target reduction in spending or did I go way over budget for a particular category? Did I earn more? What was my overall savings rate?
- It helps keep me accountable. How can I make an extra purchase knowing I’ll have to explain myself to all of you? Talk about awkward when the blogger can’t walk the walk and talk the talk.
- I want to prove this crazy thing called financial independence works!
- It provides an example of real world budgeting and expenses. Some of the people I talk to haven’t ever seen a proper budget or seen one put into action, and part of the purpose of this blog is to lead by example!
I use Mint to help me track my spending and keep an eye on my accounts. I also use a really awesome and super in-depth spreadsheet. So many formulas….. Some people use Personal Capital and others use You Need a Budget (YNAB). Whatever tool (or combination thereof) works best for you and your needs is the best one for you, since everyone and their budgets are different.
December was a whirlwind of a month for sure. Good news is I'm settling into both my new basement suite and my awesomely tastic new job! With new surroundings comes a chance to reset ingrained habits. I've managed to mostly break my bad habit of napping after work (mostly because I get off work and I'm not supremely bored/depressed!) and not bringing my lunch to work. The new cafeteria is FAR more expensive than the old, so it only took once or twice of paying higher prices for me to decide packing a lunch was way better.
I also got to spend a good chunk of December around family. I relished the chance to get to hang out with my oldest sister for a longer period of time. Normally our contact is limited to Skype chats and texting so getting to spend most of 2 weeks with her was really fun for both of us. We traveled to visit other family members for the holidays and made a quick trip to Chicago to see her favorite folk band, Over the Rhine. Don't worry – it was my Christmas present from her! Speaking of gifts, I made out like a bandit this year with a number of incredibly useful and thoughtful gifts, to include but not limited to several kinds of teas (varie-teas? ha!), glass storage containers, and a digital food scale! I am very grateful to have received such useful gifts. I also got a lot of satisfaction from watching my family open their presents from me. They all seemed to really enjoy them, which made me happy because I picked most of them up on my travels throughout the year.
But…. I’ve segued far enough away from the numbers. To explain the chart below a bit better, the third blue column contains the amount I actually spent. You can compare that to the second column, which lists the budget for that category. The same goes for discretionary expenses, although I don't really have a budget for them. I just try to not go crazy.
Without further ado, I present my December 2016 expenses (for better or for worse):
|Rent||The first month of the new rent! #amazingggggg|
|Utilities||No utilities! It's all included in the rent.|
|Food||Food was high due to a number of extra events requiring me to bring a dish.|
|Phone||So low. I love Project FI!|
|Auto||Mostly gas with an oil change. Thank goodness I get good gas mileage, bc I drove 18 hrs total over the last two weeks of December!|
|Internet||No internet charges for awhile 😀 also included in the rent.|
|Insurance||Health insurance is paid directly from my paycheck, and the others are an average from my 6 month payment.|
|Pet||I'm still working through his food from October. Had to buy more litter though.|
|Support||Rolled into one big payment for Nov/Dec|
|Misc||Some clothes, a prescription, and other misc things associated with moving.|
|Fees||I got dinged for being late on a CC payment. Grrr.|
|Gifts||I finished up my Christmas shopping!|
All told, my spending totaled $1,826.58 for December! I'm STOKED to have spent so little especially considering it was December and I had a bunch of holiday related stuff to do. I will be one happy camper if I can keep my spending down like this for 2017. Looking at January, I'm participating in the Frugalwoods' Uber Frugal Month Challenge, so I hope to only spend $1,200 for the whole month.
Adjusted: $18,151.37 (after taxes, deductions and other withholdings are taken out)
“Woah! Gwen! Are you sure you didn't misplace a comma somewhere!?!?! $22k in one month is CRAZY HIGH!”
I KNOW, RIGHT? So awesome.
It just worked out that everything got deposited the same month. That $22k includes 2 bigger paychecks than normal from my raise, my annual bonus, a moving allowance, and moving allotment. I don't know what the difference between the two moving deposits are, and I don't really want to ask for fear they'll take it back. I know they can't, but irrational fears are irrational for a reason!
Getting this much money in one month meant I also paid a boat load in taxes, unfortunately. I was able to optimize some of it with my last HSA and 401k deposits of the year, but I quickly ran out of space and was forced to pay the taxes on it. However……… stayed tuned for ways that I will be looking to minimize my tax burden in 2017 😀
Roth IRA: $450
Total savings: $18,641.60
The atypically high income for the month meant my savings rate for November was 91%! This is obviously the first month that it's ever been that high, which I LOVE. I just wish I got paid $22k a month every month! My savings rate for 2016 ended up being 40%. Perfectly reasonable, but I can and will do better in 2017. Look out world…. here I come!
As of 1 January, my “cash stash” sits at $128,353.00. Last month I said I should hit $120k by the end of the year; not only did I hit $120k, I hit my stretch goal of $125k and more! I am very happy with where I ended up at the end of the
year month. Still talking about December. Not 2016. I already did that post!
Most of my assets are tied up in retirement accounts (mainly my 401k and Roth IRA) but I do have some cash on hand after this month. I'm saving basically all of it up for my down payment though, so no shopping spree at Armani for me. Not that I would shop there anyways. They have some hideous stuff.
According to the Lab over on Mad Fientist’s site, my FI date is now 8 years and 8 months away, which means I’m now at August 2025 instead of February 2026! As expected, I breached the 9 year mark for the first time! I dropped 6 months this one month alone! WAHHOOO!!!!! Take THAT, Msr. Guinea Pig! I will catch up in 2017 once and for all!
This month: $0
No more expenses for the near future as my shop has moved to the unfinished part of my new digs!
Thanks for reading! What did your month look like? Did you stick to your budget?