Someone wake up Billy Joel! September is definitely over now. The weather is starting to cool off (lower utility bills yay!) and pumpkin flavored everything is popping up all over the place. This month was full of fun activities, which included things like the start of the fall soccer season and getting a crash course in playing the violin. This month also comprised of some not so fun activities, like lots of medical appointments and being sick. I seem to have gotten a fairly light version of whatever is going on so at least I have that going for me.
I got to see some friends on a quick roadtrip one weekend. That was a great time and pretty cheap! All I had to do was drive there and get some drinks. Speaking of cheap events, I drove out to the middle of nowhere (not that difficult to find nor that far away where I live) with a friend and some ice cream to watch the supermoon lunar eclipse. Seeing the fully eclipsed moon surrounded by the Milky Way and more stars than either of us could count was the closest thing to magic I’ve ever experienced. Best part was all we spent was $4 on some ice cream and some gas for the car. Who said you had to spend lots of money to have a good time!?
Why do I do a monthly spending report?
I find it best to do a monthly spending report for a few reasons. One, 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? Two, 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. Three, I want to prove this crazy thing called financial independence works! Fourth, 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. Some people use Personal Capital and others use You Need a Budget (YNAB). Whatever tool works best for you and your needs is the best one for you, since everyone and their budgets are different.
So, without further ado, I present my spending (for better or for worse) for September 2015.
|Gas & Fuel||Much lower than last month! I stayed fairly close to home and didn’t take too many unnecessary trips.|
|Utilities||My utilities went down a full $20 from last month! I can’t wait to see how much more it can drop with the cooler weather!|
|Food & Dining||This was a bad month for food. Worth every penny I spent though!|
|Rent||Notice I only paid $1037 instead of $1057. I saved $20 on my pet fee this month! It’s too bad my apartment complex doesn’t do more activities so that I could save more often.|
|Pets||I lowered the set amount to $60 with a rollover option to help offset the randomness of purchasing his dry food.|
|Gifts||I donated some to a political campaign and also chipped in for a coworker’s retirement gift.|
|Personal Care||I got a haircut at the beginning of the month (and do I look good now!).|
|Shopping||This covered various items like soccer uniforms and some other things needed for my place.|
|Uncategorized||Mostly checks I wrote to reimburse people for things they covered for me.|
My total spent this month was $2012! That’s it! Not only that, it again includes 50% of that being my rent. Having two consecutive months hovering around $2k feels great, and tells me that it is actually possible to not have to spend a crazy amount of money. If you recall, my target retirement number is based off me spending $23,500 a year. At just over $2k, I’d only have to cut back slightly. That should be easy to accomplish once I don’t need to live close to work in a fancy, expensive area. Not to mention all the money I usually spend eating food at work.
I was playing around with some numbers on the back of a napkin a week or so ago and found I wasn’t calculating my savings percentage correctly. I used to think I was at a paltry 35%, but instead my base rate of savings is 42%! By doing nothing, I’m saving almost half of my income! When I have low spending months like August and September, that number jumps up to 70%!! It’s crazy to me that a relatively small amount ($1k) can have such a big impact on the percentage. The more money I can stash away earlier, the more compound interest will be on my side and the faster I can be financially independent.
Looking into October, I can already tell it’s going to be a rough month on my budget. My mom is coming to visit for a quilt show, so I anticipate laying out some cash there. It’s also my birthday month, and the Chautauqua in Ecuador follows shortly after that. It’s going to be a fun and busy month!
What did your month look like? Did you stick to your budget?