Monthly Status Report: December 2016

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):


RentThe first month of the new rent! #amaz­ingggggg
Util­i­tiesNo util­i­ties! It’s all includ­ed in the rent.
FoodFood was high due to a num­ber of extra events requir­ing me to bring a dish.
PhoneSo low. I love Project FI!
AutoMost­ly 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!
Inter­netNo inter­net charges for awhile 😀 also includ­ed in the rent.
Insur­anceHealth insur­ance is paid direct­ly from my pay­check, and the oth­ers are an aver­age from my 6 month pay­ment.
PetI’m still work­ing through his food from Octo­ber. Had to buy more lit­ter though.
Sup­portRolled into one big pay­ment for Nov/Dec
MiscSome clothes, a pre­scrip­tion, and oth­er misc things asso­ci­at­ed with mov­ing.
FeesI got dinged for being late on a CC pay­ment. Grrr.
GiftsI 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’ Über Fru­gal Month Chal­lenge, so I hope to only spend $1,200 for the whole month.


Gross: $22,366.76

Adjust­ed: $18,151.37 (after tax­es, deduc­tions and oth­er with­hold­ings are tak­en out)

Tax­es: $6,852.00

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 😀


401k: $2,063.13

Roth IRA: $450

HSA: $100.00

Cash: $16,000

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!

Side Hustle

This month: $0

Total: $1525

Income: $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?

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24 thoughts on “Monthly Status Report: December 2016

    • Thanks Mrs. Picky Pinch­er! His name is Bartholomew and he’s an almost 2 year old Siber­ian For­est cat. He’s Momma’s huge, floofy snug­gle­bug. More like a dog than a cat, tem­pera­ment wise. I loves him a lot!

      Liv­ing in the base­ment has it’s ups and downs. I have my own bath­room, but share the kitchen. I also have a stall in the 3 car garage! My main gripe is it’s COLD liv­ing in the base­ment, in the Mid­west, in the Win­ter. My space heater Bob is my new BFF. Oth­er­wise, I can’t real­ly com­plain. I’m get­ting a hell of a deal! 😀

  1. Sounds like a great month and great wrap up to the year. Is all of that “stash cash” in sav­ings or spread across some invest­ment accounts as well? If not — some­thing to think about as it con­tin­ues to grow.

    • The vast major­i­ty is in my 401k, then I have some in a Roth IRA, HSA, and tax­able invest­ment account. I only have about ~$20k in cash, and most of that was the pay from this month. It’s all going to my down pay­ment! My job is pret­ty secure, so I tend not to keep a lot of cash on hand.

  2. Woot woot! So great to see a sen­si­ble Decem­ber spend­ing report, great job keep­ing expens­es so low!

    My Decem­ber didn’t work out quite how I fore­cast­ed. A fam­i­ly “emer­gency” took a huge chunk out of my sav­ings mean­ing I didn’t save any­thing out­side of retire­ment accounts in Decem­ber (a first since I start­ed work­ing and it real­ly stressed me out!) and actu­al­ly dis­saved about R5k on top of that. I wish I could say that (a) it went to a good cause since I was help­ing fam­i­ly [but that would be a lie because I’m still thor­ough­ly annoyed at the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the “emer­gency” that made it total­ly pre­ventable] or that (b) it was *only* that which threw my budget/plans out of whack [anoth­er lie because my gro­cery spend was high­er than aver­age, and gifts for Christ­mas and Birth­days got a lit­tle out of con­trol despite the fact that I’ve nev­er cel­e­brat­ed the holiday…grrrrrr].

    Oh well, anoth­er set of lessons hope­ful­ly learned. I’m doing to UFM Chal­lenge too this month, despite hav­ing to attend a cou­ple of wed­dings in anoth­er Province (!) but hope­ful­ly by Feb­ru­ary things will be sane again on the finance front! Hap­py New Month. Kill it!

    • Thanks Mylky! It was a very for­tu­itous month!

      Deal­ing with fam­i­ly and mon­ey can get stress­ful quick. It seems to be espe­cial­ly poor tim­ing with the hitch in income from the hos­pi­tal you’re going through. But! This is why we save and live below our means so we can do things like this and no go into debt our­selves. You’re a very kind per­son to help your fam­i­ly out like that. Keep your chin up! You’re doing a great job!

  3. Woah! That has to be the most amaz­ing month I’ve ever seen. The rock bot­tom expens­es AND the mas­sive income. You should def be pat­ting your­self on the back my friend.

    Con­grats on crush­ing it. also, your cat is total­ly adorable. Fun to see both f you in the Christ­mas spir­it.

    And of course, I am stoked to final­ly meet you next week­end!
    TJ recent­ly post­ed…2016 Blog Traf­fic Round Up!My Profile

  4. You had such a great month! Your rent is freak­ing amaz­ing! Have you done a post on your cell­phone provider? I haven’t heard much about Google’s Project FI, but from the small amount I have heard, every­one has been real­ly hap­py with their ser­vice.

  5. Wow — now this is a real­ly impres­sive finan­cial update! You’re doing a great job and I’m bet­ting that your FI date is going to keep mov­ing up at the rate you’re going with earn­ing and sav­ing. Keep up the good work!

    And, very cute cat 🙂 My lit­tle guy (almost 2 year old) loves “kit­ties” right now. If I want to calm him down, all we have to do is sit in front of the com­put­er for a minute and watch a cat video.
    Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope recent­ly post­ed…Finan­cial Review Of 2016: Our Start­ing Point For A Bet­ter YearMy Profile

  6. I was sit­ting down, as rec­om­mend­ed. Good thing too! That’s a tru­ly impres­sive month, Gwen! What a great boost to the cash stash.

    And it sounds like you had a fan­tas­tic Christ­mas with your fam­i­ly! Chica­go sounds like a great time — what a fun gift!

    Awww, Mew and you look just adorable and fes­tive. I have to say, he is very pho­to­genic.

    • Thanks Aman­da! He was wear­ing his bowtie in the pic­ture and you can’t even tell because of the floof!!


    Unlim­it­ed calling/Unlimited texting/3GB 4g data, unlim­it­ed 2G data for $27/month includ­ing all tax­es and fees.

    Uses AT&T tow­ers for bet­ter cov­er­age than T-Mobile or Sprint. No con­tract. Just buy a sim and trans­fer your num­ber if your phone is unlocked.

    Anoth­er $19 saved per month. 🙂

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