Monthly Status Report: March 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.


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 🙂


Gross: $5,810.00 

Adjusted: $2,966.82

Taxes: $1,180.32

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.


401k: $2,091.60

Roth IRA: $450

HSA: $100.00

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?

7 thoughts on “Monthly Status Report: March 2016

  1. Wow this is awesome. I’ll be rooting for you to hit that 100K mark. My 401K just hit the 70K mark. I was super excited. Now I’m anxious for it to hit 80K. FI going from 13 years to 9.5 years in just 12 months? Gotta love to power of compounding.

  2. I wouldn’t stress too much about your spending. You’re clearly spending on things that will be valuable to you, and you have a good mix of saving vs spending. Its all about the balance! I think you’ll hit 100k in no time.

    • I think sometimes I lose sight of the bigger picture when I get bogged down in the details. Thanks for the reminder, Michael!

  3. Hi, Gwen! I’m curious why your internet bill seems so high? Unless there is something unique about it, I bet you can get that down to less than $30 a month. We currently pay $23.94 a month through CenturyLink and stream videos on several screens at the same time with no problems.
    Your internet bill might be a good area to attack with the same tenacity as your cell phone bill.

    • I could get it down, but I use a lot of data. I’m with Mediacom (may they burn for eternity) and they have data caps. I push the limits of my data caps for most months so I’d have to cut back on my data consumption if I went down a tier or two.

      • Maybe giving Mediacom the boot might be worth looking into…and feel good.

        Here is CenturyLink’s data cap policy: “CenturyLink’s download guidelines are designed to support today’s download usage patterns. Our updated plans include the following download usage limits: 150 Gigabytes for 1.5Mbps plans and 250 Gigabytes for plans greater than 1.5Mbps.” I don’t want to come off as pestering. I just wanted to share my “challenge every bill” perspective.

        Congratulations on crossing the $90K threshold!!!

        • No worries. My data cap is currently 350, so Century Link wouldn’t work. I’m also not sure we have access to CL in my apartment complex.

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