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.
Where to begin? March was full of as many up and downs as the weather. For those who have yet to have the pleasure of experiencing Spring in the Midwest, the weather changes often. The old saying goes “If you don't like the weather, just wait. It'll change in a few hours.” We ran the gamut from balmy Spring days to blizzards and tornadoes.
My spending was equally tumultuous. I pre-paid for several upcoming travel events and had some unexpected expenses pop up. I did, however, also participate in events that were basically free, like going over to a friend's house for a fierce Rise of Nations LAN-party or Scrabble and playing dodgeball.
March had several holidays, so I celebrated St. Patrick's Day and Easter in style (meaning cheaply and responsibly!).
I also rejoined the hunt for a multi-family rental property in March when my first deal fell apart. I got my earnest money back and returned to scouring the listings for potential properties. The one I did look at this month was not inspiring in the slightest, but I refuse to get discouraged. There have been 3 new properties in as many days, so maybe now the market will swing into serious gear. Good thing looking is free!
Without further ado, I present my spending (for better or for worse) for March 2016.
|Rent||A normal month for rent. Moving out early isn't in the foreseeable future for me :/|
|Utilities||Now that nicer temps are here, the heat has been turned off! I'm thankful to live on the third floor so all of my neighbor's hot air rises into my place!|
|Food||Way, way way over. Thanks to several events like happy hours, dates, and holidays. Next month should be better.|
|Phone||So low. I love Project FI!|
|Auto||Gas prices are now accelerating rapidly instead of creeping up. Still, 3 tanks of gas for less than $60 is pretty good! I also had to buy new screws for my license plates since the old ones were too rusty to continue using.|
|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||For the first time in a few months, I had to buy more dry food. He should be set for months now!|
|Support||I’ve started supporting both of my sisters in various ways.|
|Blog||The site is a year old! This fee covered the domain renewal so I can keep writing 🙂|
|Misc||Tax prep fee (first time I've ever paid for it and I'm so glad I did) and an activity fee.|
|Entertainment||$1 for an app, and $109 for my annual MLB.TV subscription.|
|Travel||My flight is purchased for Camp Mustache, and I also got my ticket for FinCon in September!|
|Fees||Sigh……. I'm ashamed to admit I got charged a late fee and a finance fee on my CC. I didn't want to pay the whole thing off so I could have a bigger downpayment. Now I have a bigger fund, fees, and no house.|
|Gifts||My mom's birthday present! Next month is my niece!|
|Health||I had an eye appointment this month for new contacts. Update: I'm still blind.|
All told, my spending totaled $3174 for March. I knew March wasn't going to be kind to my budget, but I didn't exactly help myself as I splurged on lunches at work and an extra drink or two at various events. Being a social 20-something is hard to do with a limited food budget. That being said, I still hit my target base budget spending even going over in a few categories.
I've never paid to have my taxes done before, but I'm very glad I did as they were more complicated than I knew what to do with. That was an extra fee this month, but I'll save more over getting audited by the IRS!
Looking to April, it's going to be another high expense month. I decided to go to another Cardinals game, so I'll need to purchase those tickets and the flights to get there and back. I'll also be spending some time with my family, which means more driving than I normally do. Finally, I'll be meeting up with fellow FI bloggers in Omaha at the end of the month which means more driving and a hotel room, along with one or two drinks 🙂
My raise came through! It was only about 2%, but every little bit helps. I thought I might get my tax return this month, but it looks like that come through in April instead. I wish I had some rental income to share, but I'm back at square one in the house search so that won't happen for a few more months.
Roth IRA: $450
Total savings: $2,641.60
My raise added almost $100 to my 401(k) contribution! I will definitely be maxing it out this year, maxed bonus or no.
As of March 31st, my net worth sits at $90,434.24! The market most definitely helped my net worth grow. I'm excited to break the $90k barrier for the first time! I realize this is entirely dependent on the market, so I won't be surprised to see it fluctuate over and under $90k several times. I'm on target to hit $100k by May or June. Let's see if I can do it!
According to the Lab over on Mad Fientist's site, my FI date is now 9 years and 6 months away. A year ago, I was at 13 years! Crazy to see how much progress I've made in 12 short months!
Thanks for reading! What did your month look like? Did you stick to your budget?
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