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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.
March felt like the longest month ever. My roommate and I were discussing the month and realized a super fun night out at all you can eat sushi was in March and not like, in January. It felt like way more than 4 weeks before. I feel like that’s a mark of how much I’m enjoying living here in DC. The first part of the month, I was still in Virginia. I then flew to Chicago to hang out with friends and to drive the rest of my stuff to my new place in DC. While I was home I managed to get a family dinner in and have lunch with my best friend. I miss home, but not as much as I like living in a big city like DC!
The last two weeks were spent settling into my new place and figuring out a routine. I started riding my bike to work and bringing my meals to work. I hear you can save lots of money doing that so I thought I’d give it a shot. It’s 5.5 miles one way and I have the best commute I could possibly ask for. Loop around Capitol Hill, down the Mall, hang a left at the Washington Memorial, pass the Jefferson Memorial and cross the Potomac River into Virginia. I love it!
I’ve started to pare down my stuff and designate various piles to throw away, give away and sell. It goes slowly because I’m overly attached to physical objects but progress is being made!
Obviously having fun in Chicago and driving my stuff back to DC wasn’t cheap at all. I spent more than I liked, but March was my first ever 3 paycheck month so I had a little bit of an extra buffer!
Check out below for my total spending in March 2019.
|Housing||A steal of a deal for DC proper.|
|Utilities||I paid for March’s utilities in April.|
|Food||I about cried. More on the food below.|
|Phone||Thanks to Project FI opening up their referral program again, I had credits to offset my bill.|
|Auto||Bike repairs, handlebar camera, Metro card top offs and a ton of gas for the rental truck.|
|Internet||Same case for the utilities.|
|Insurance||Not as high as it should be thanks to a screw up within my benefits department at work.|
|Pet||Got some more food and litter for the Fuzz.|
|Shopping||Some new clothes and new furnishings for my new place!|
|Blog||Blog and podcasting expenses|
|Entertainment||MLB.tv annual subscription. I can watch every game of my beloved Cardinals baseball!|
|Shopping||Some replacement clothes and things for the trip from the Midwest.|
|Misc||Some furnishings for my new place and other random stuff that doesn’t go in another category.|
|Travel||Rental trucks aint cheap. Also included a night in a hotel on the way.|
|Gifts||My niece’s birthday present and a donation to a good cause.|
So.… food.…. it was a lot. I broke it up into four different categories: lunch at work, Chicago, other travel, and groceries. I spent almost $100 on food just to eat at work! That’s crazy high!
Chicago was basically Gwen doing the Hungry Hungry Caterpillar through the many delectable offerings available. Brunch, BBQ, fancy cafes, gluten-free bakeries — nothing was safe. There were 3–4 of us eating and drinking through the weekend, so we all took turns paying. Fogo de Chao is expensive but soooooo gooooood.….
I also needed to stock up on essentials for the kitchen. I moved in with very little food and needed basically everything. My new roommate has a Costco membership and I dropped about $235 there. I got basics like breakfast for the next month+, more frozen chicken breasts than I can eat in a couple months, a big honkin bag of rice and some gluten free products like pizza, bread and bougie granola.
The rest of the food budget came from groceries I couldn’t get at Costco (reasonable quantities of yogurt and fresh fruit) and eating out with friends. All you can eat sushi is the only kind of sushi I like to eat! It’s so good here in DC on the coast (as opposed to slightly older stuff in the Midwest).
I would also like to HIGHLIGHT the importance of keeping an eye on your pay stubs. I was inputting everything into my spreadsheet and noticed two out of my three paychecks didn’t have any money taken out for benefits. One quick call to the benefits hotline at work and we figured out the system spontaneously dumped me. Good thing biking through Downtown DC isn’t dangerous or anything, because I didn’t have health insurance for 3 weeks! As I told the lady, I’d rather have the money taken out and have benefits than keeping the money and not having benefits.
Blog/podcasting expenses were a little higher than normal thanks to renewing my blog domain for the next year.
At $5,047.66, this month was far more expensive than the average. Moving halfway across the US and getting settled in a new place costs a lot! I’m looking forward to my expenses going way down as I settle into a routine.
Other income: $21
Thankfully, March was my first ever 3 paycheck month. It is so helpful to have extra check! I’ve always been a “paid twice a month no matter what” kind of employee, so I’m pretty pumped I get to decide what to do with my extra checks. The other income came from ConvertKit affiliates and an Etsy sale.
Total savings: $3,895.53
I would be overspending this month if not for the fact I had that extra paycheck. My 401(k) savings are higher thanks to the extra contributions as well. Since I did get an extra check, my savings rate clocked in at 43% for March. Pretty good but I think I can do better in April.
According to this, my total net worth is $199,335. So close to hitting that $200k mark again! My old 401k is going gangbusters in this favorable market environment. Gotta get all that compound interest!
Thanks for reading! What did your month look like? Did you stick to your budget?