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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 a combination thereof) works best for you and your needs is the best one for you, since everyone and their budgets are different.
Oh December, how I love thee.
I feel like this month was super chill, especially when you consider the madness that was November. I started my new job December 9th, so I had a whole week off to unpack the apartment, settle in and explore my new home. It’s been interesting to compare my experience living in St Louis with all of the trips I’ve taken here in the past. Life is different as a resident, which makes complete and utter sense.
I’m loving my new job so far. I already feel 10 times more at home and useful at this job than I did at either of the other companies I worked for in 2019. It helps that I already knew my new manager outside of work, so I feel more comfortable at work knowing he’s there to help me out with anything that I need.
The 14th saw me head home for an early family Christmas. I love, love, love being able to get back home easily for important events like this. I got a lot of joy and satisfaction from watching my family members open the presents I gave them. They gave me some pretty awesome presents in return like a Corelle dish set and a heated mattress pad. Let me tell you, I’ve never slept so well. Pure bliss. My sister and I then attended a concert in St Louis to see her favorite group play. This was my second time seeing them, so it was nice to recognize some of the songs this time around.
The next weekend saw me headed back home again for another round of Christmas events. My former Gold Award advisor hosts a Chicken n Noodle night/White Elephant gift exchange with our group of Girl Scouts. Lots of fun and laughter to be had, as I haven’t been able to attend for a few years. The next day a different friend group of mine had our annual-ish What the F for $1 or Less White Elephant exchange. We keep our eyes peeled for weird crap throughout the year and then exchange it. Nobody peed their pants laughing this year, so I need to up my game for next year.
Christmas was a peaceful day for me this year. My family met up at my aunt and uncle’s house, but it was too far away for me to be there with no vacation time. Instead, I had a lazy day doing whatever I wanted, which included gluten-free confetti pancakes, a high tea with fancy china, a nice long nap, a 5.5 mile bike ride in the 70 degree weather and a showing of my favorite Christmas movie The Holiday.
The rest of the year closed out quietly. No major expenses popped up and I spent a lot of time reflecting on the events of 2019, and trying to figure out what I want to focus on in 2020.
Check out below for all the details of my spending in December!
|Housing||.….ouch. The last month of doubled rent! No more crazy HCOL DC expenses!|
|Utilities||I honestly have no idea what to expect for utilities in this old apartment.|
|Food||Higher than normal with moving my kitchen and buying food for moving helpers!|
|Phone||I love Google FI! Now with a new unlimited plan.|
|Auto||So much gas purchased for Levi and the moving truck.…|
|Internet||Gotta have that fast interweb access.|
|Pet||Food, poop rocks for the kitty, and his very own cat tree!|
|Blog||I need to audit these expenses.|
|Entertainment||A concert, a date night, City Museum and a new video game! (Mario Party)|
|Shopping||Some more clothes, some stuff for the apartment like furniture and furnishings!|
|Miscellaneous||Reimbursing friends for moving expenses, mostly.|
|Health||Had to go to the doctor and get some meds. Being sick sucks.|
|Gifts||It’s December. I exchanged a lot of gifts.|
I ended 2019 on a high note with regards to personal attitude and spending levels. I’m sure November and December 2019 will go down as two of my highest months of spending. So worth it to get out of DC and into St Louis!!
I’m very much looking forward to expenses going down now that most of the moving costs have come in. I’m spending less on rent and gas for the car, and will be working on lowering my food costs. It helps when everything is so much cheaper here in St Louis compared to DC. Gas is $2.09 a gallon in places and happy hour specials can be found for $2/drink.
I have been kind of ballin’ out when it comes to furnishing the apartment and exploring St Louis. The cat got his very own cat tree (which he actually uses!!!), I’ve been buying things that look nice/are more functional for the apartment, and I’ve not hesitated to spend money on St Louis experiences (hello Arch tickets and the Botanical Garden Glow!). I’ll talk more about this in a future post, but I’m going to start spending more deliberately on things that bring me joy and/or happiness.…… even if it’s not the most economical choice (see also, if I need to spend money on something).
Total spending for December 2019 was.…… drum roll please .….….. $8,073! I fervently hope this is the last month of super high spending and I can get it to a lower level for 2020. I’m tired of getting a lot of money and then spending it all. I want to save some!
Other income: $9.79
MY RELOCATION MONEY CAME IN! WAHOO!!!
In order to get me a relocation bonus of $8,000, I needed over $12k in pre-tax income! Taxes on bonuses are absurd. I also was paid for 3 weeks of work as I started work in the middle of a pay cycle. I’m eager to see what a regular paycheck looks like so I can forecast a budget more accurately. The other income came from interest earned on accounts, a $4.50 rewards check from Capital One and an Etsy sale.
Unallocated Cash: $7,744.50
Total savings: $8,532.07
Handy dandy spreadsheet says my savings for the month was a respectable 51%. That would be the case if I had been able to keep the cash. Alas, it was not meant to be. Many of the expenses in the last two months went on the credit card. The day my paycheck came in, most of the money went promptly right back out to get the cards paid down.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: $9,079.19
Chase United: $1,565.94
Remember, this is a snapshot of how things stood the last day of the month. These balances are no longer accurate, but this is what it was. The updated numbers will be reflected in January’s report. I am incredibly grateful these credit card balances were short-lived. These balances would be rough to dig out from under without all the extra cash coming in. I would’ve been much more stressed out had I not had the assurance of the money coming in (much like I was at the end of last year, actually.…)
According to this, my total net worth is $226,621. This is a slight bump from last month when you factor in the liabilities. Otherwise, I would’ve been raking it in! I’m definitely not a fan of having to put things in the liability column so that credit card will be wiped out as fast as I am able. The market continued its record tear and I am glad I am able to benefit from it.
This is usually the section where I see how much time I have left until early retirement, but I’m not focusing on that kind of goal anymore. Instead, I’ll say I had a good month! Mental health is more important to me right now than saving as much money as I possibly can. Whatever your goal, I hope you made good strides towards it like I did!
Thanks for reading! What did your month look like? Did you stick to your budget?