I’m experimenting with a new format this year in which I only fill in the net worth table here quarterly. I want to focus more on my spending and my money actions each month.
In January, I:
- contributed ~45% of the pre-tax 401(k) limit
- paid the remainder of my costs for this period of school
- sold my 2015 Q4 ESPP shares and transferred their value to my general savings account
- kicked off my first month using Alliant Credit Union for my primary checking and savings accounts. I’m really stoked about this because they pay a reasonable-ish rate on checking without having to count debit card transactions (0.65%) AND they pay the same interest rate on savings as Ally Bank (1.00%). It also made the monthly auto-transfers from savings to checking much smoother being at the same place. Some people are tempted to spend their savings if it is in the same place as their checking account, but I’m not.
- opened up two NetSpend prepaid cards for the sweet 5% interest on the first $5,000. I’m all about finding ways to earn a better return on my cash since I decided to keep more cash around. My plan is that later, higher interest chunks will form part of the fixed income portion of my investment portfolio and the lower interest chunks will be my savings buffer.
- got really stressed out when the auto-payment on one of my credit cards didn’t go through in the switching of checking accounts. I assumed it would go through on one of them and nope, neither. I got hit with a late fee AND interest, all on a really low (for me) statement balance of ~$300. That was super stressful, but the credit card company was great and reversed all of the fees, even before I made the corrected payment!
- made my annual January donation that is ~6 months of budgeted charitable donations
- sold my first item on Craigslist! I was super stoked about that – it sold in under 24 hours. Eventually, we’ll get things looking like we don’t have a mash up of two apartments in here… We’re actively trying to sell a set of other items on Craigslist too and that one is taking longer. It took a bit to figure out what price I should list at.
- got hit with a maintenance fee on a credit card I hadn’t used all year, oops! Looks like I need to remember to use that one at least once a year.
- did not contribute to my Roth IRA. My current plan is to do this in April / after I have sufficient earned income.
- lost about $9,000 on paper in my investment portfolio. Despite that and selling my ESPP shares, I managed to have my investments “only” be down ~$300 thanks to my large contributions this month.
- saw my net worth go up by $3,000 or about 0.5% to $604,000. (Note that now that it’s larger, I’m going to be rounding to the nearest $1,000 here.)
Expenses: I spent $2,301 in January including the mortgage or $1,273 without it, excluding charitable donations. That breaks down to:
- $2,081 in fixed/unavoidable expenses: financials, cell phone, HOA dues, mortgage payment, NEXUS card, medical, and car insurance
- $222 in discretionary expenses: clothing, entertainment, food, eyebrows, toiletries, recreation, shopping, parking and tolls
Some of my controllable expenses broke down as follows:
- ($319) Clothing: returned two of the four dresses I bought at the end of December ($363) and bought a long-sleeved running top ($44)
- $37 Entertainment/Social [average so far this year: $37, average last year: $116] – A book (<$1 somehow), dinner with a friend ($24), and another photo album for picture printing ($13) – I’ll get my boyfriend’s half of that back later. This will be low for this period of school, in fact I’m surprised it was this “high” this month.
- <$1 Financials: inactivity fee on that credit card I mentioned above. It should have been more like $10, so this was actually pretty pleasant.
- $37 Food
- $0 Eating out by myself [average so far this year: $0, average last year: $6]
- $6 Schoolwork-related food [average so far this year: $6] – met up with a classmate in a coffee shop
- $31 Work lunches [average so far this year: $31, average last year: $39] – this was 7 days of lunches
- $26 Cell phone – monthly Cricket bill. It’s lower this month because I had raised my plan just before the plan renewal date last month and lowered it again shortly after.
- $50 Nexus card – renewal time!
- $160 Medical – a December appointment
- $20 Eyebrows
- $29 Toiletries [average so far this year: $33, average last year: $48] – cleanser and wipes for my menstrual cup and toner
- $172 Recreation – Bah, so I did a ton of research and decided to get a Jawbone Up2 ($68) instead of a Fitbit Charge, but then it being on my wrist and not having the time on it drove me crazy, plus it was annoying to get on/off, so I bought a Fitbit One ($95). I like it much better! I should have just done that in the first place. My plan was to try to re-sell the Up2 for ~$50 or so.
- $204 Shopping – the last of the parts for my new desktop computer ($200) and the Stylebook app ($4)
- $530 Transportation: tolls replenishment (x1), parking at school one day, and six months of car insurance (up about 8% from the six month premium)
I didn’t even look into how my spending was going until about 2/3 of the way through the month, so I’m pretty happy with how things went! I also didn’t pay attention to how often I was buying lunch at work versus bringing it.
This month was pretty frugal. I’m curious to see how the year turns out! I’m guessing February will be similarly frugal since there are no big expenses due in February, nor are we planning any trips for the year yet. We’re debating re-painting a bunch of the condo finally, so that may happen, depending on cost. If the quotes are higher than we want to pay, we may end up doing it in the spring ourselves.
HOA dues did not go up this year and there is no special assessment, which is cool. I don’t know what the property taxes look like, but my tax value went up about 5%, so I assume they will go up about 5%.
In an attempt to rein in my clothing spending this year, I bought the Stylebook app to show me the cost-per-wear metrics of my clothing and how often I’m wearing items I have. My first goal is to get the CPW for each item in my closet down to $5. I’ll make a new goal once I get there. So far, it’s fun organizing my clothing in the app and is totally transferring the time I spent shopping to organizing my closet in the app. Only three items meet that $5 CPW goal at the moment: a $46 pair of jeans is at $3/wear, a $217 purse is at $4.25/use and a $20 summer top is at $4.95/wear. I’ve added in any clothes/purses I bought in 2015 to the app and tried to add past data where I could, but some of the stuff is going to take a while to get down to a reasonable cost per wear.
Note to newer readers: my boyfriend and I live together in the condo that I own and as part of him not paying rent, he pays for things like groceries, internet, electricity, eating out together, Ubers, and miscellaneous costs on trips, while I pay for everything related to the condo and to the car that I own. For now, he is also paying for the cleaning person that we hired to ease that burden a bit, but we’ll check in on that later this year. I may end up chipping in towards that later. My mom has commented that we shouldn’t “split” groceries 50/50 because he eats more than I do, but I take lunches to work out of the grocery budget and eat more breakfasts and snack food, while he eats more when we do share meals, so it actually evens out. In 2015, we averaged $538/month on shared groceries and restaurants, so the $509 we spent in January on groceries was a bit higher than usual, but still under last year’s shared food spending considering that there are no restaurants in there.
Readers, how was your money in January?