Quick note: Astute readers may notice a change in this report. Mint is acting up again, so I’ve decided to switch from showing updates from it to updates from my spreadsheet. Much more reliable, even if it is a bit more work. I also decided to show a more complete snapshot of my finances and include my income and savings rate. With that, let’s begin!
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.
I accidentally on purpose turned this into a Frugal February. Accidental in that I didn’t know ahead of time, and on purpose because it was a very deliberate choice to be so ‘frugal’. I put frugal into quotes because I really wasn’t being frugal, I just was making the choice to not spend much money. Did I manage to hit all my goals? No, I’m still human. But, I did manage to reign in my spending quite a bit and made a huge impact.
It helped that my super duper fun plans had to be postponed. I was supposed to go to Chicago to hang out with some friends. Hanging out included some shopping, a Monster Truck Rally, copious amounts of drinking, great food, and a lot of fun. While I didn’t get to experience any of that, I also didn’t have to experience 10 hours of driving and the money associated with the planned events.
However, just because one weekend didn’t turn out as planned doesn’t mean I didn’t have some fun the rest of the month. February was full of house stuff: looking at properties, making an offer and then making plans. All of that was (kinda sorta not really) free- or at least, it didn’t cost me anything upfront besides the gas I burned running around town. I also volunteered with a political campaign (free), participated in several sport scrimmages (mostly free- I chipped in a few dollars to help cover the gym rental fee) and hung out with friends (the best kind of free!).
So, without further ado, I present my spending (for better or for worse) for February 2016.
|Rent||A normal month for rent. I’m excited to move sometime soon (hopefully) to lower this budget category.|
|Utilities||Pretty darn low still. Much better than last year’s cost ($338!!!)|
|Food||I HIT MY BUDGET! IT’S A MIRACLE!|
|Phone||So low. I love Project FI! See my review here: http://www.fierymillennials.com/google-project-fi-review/|
|Auto||Thanks to the still-low-but-slowly-creeping-up gas prices, 2 tanks cost me $33. I also had to get new plates for my car, thanks to my move to a new state. Instead of costing me $110, I only paid $87. Having an old car is so much cheaper than a new car. Costs can run over $200 for a new car!|
|Internet||Same price as always.|
|Insurance||Health insurance is paid directly from my paycheck, and the others are an average from my 6 month payment.|
|Pet||He didn’t cost me anything this month, although March will see his normal costs resumed (kitty litter and cat food).|
|Support||I’ve started supporting both of my sisters in various ways.|
|Misc||I’m very glad to see this so low. Normally it’s quite a bit higher :/|
|Shopping||I bought a book and a digital antenna for my TV. Hello basic cable!|
|Transfer||I took out some cash for things like Girl Scout cookies (they have Gluten Free ones now!!) and gym fees for my various sports.|
All told, my spending totaled $2014 for February. I was stoked to see it so low, but it also took a lot of deliberate actions to get there. No running to Dominos if I didn’t feel like cooking. Forcing myself to cook so I’d have leftovers to bring to work instead of just getting food from the cafeteria. Choosing to go home for lunch when the rest of my coworkers went out for our weekly lunch at an area restaurant. My weakness is definitely food, so by making better choices (cough not being lazy cough) there was a huge impact to my budget. I also resisted the urge to go out shopping for clothes. Winter is winding down around here, so I know several things I want are on clearance to get them out of the store. I’ve made it this far, and I can “suffer” a bit more without them.
Unfortunately, March will not be kind to my budget, no matter how many sandwiches I bring in for lunch. I have several yearly expenses due in March, some of which I will be canceling and others I’ll let renew, so I know my spending will be higher. However, a few more sandwiches definitely won’t kill me and will definitely help trim the fat from my budget.
This is a pretty standard month for me. I have no other income streams (at the moment) except for maybe a dollar or so in interest per month. Later, things will get more complicated when I start my side hustle and rental business. Next month, I’ll have my tax return to add to this as well as a raise! It’s not much but every little bit helps!
Roth IRA: $450
Total savings: $2,548.36
When you add in the unallocated ~$450 left over, it makes for a whopping 60% savings rate this month! Woot woot! I wish I could hit this amount more often, but life is more than just my savings rate. It’s important, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not going to sacrifice the things that mean the most just so I can save more. For instance, I really like to travel and I think the $5k (on average) I spend a year is totally worth it.
As of February 29th, my net worth sits at $84,511! My goal for this year is to break $100k, so I’ve got a fair bit to go. Hopefully the market helps out a bit!
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think about the format change in the comments. What did your month look like? Did you stick to your budget