Q3 2018 Update: 58.5% FI progress

Savings (~3.3 months + 66.9% of our down payment goal)

Last quarter, we got to 6 months of cash savings and made a bit of progress on our down payment goal. Instead of reporting the down payment fund progress as a % down on our target price point, I’m going to show the % towards our overall down payment fund goal. In this update, I’m showing the % towards our minimum down payment goal, which right now includes our earnest money and some CDs we each opened after selling some index funds. The actual $ amount of the goal will go up a bit as we do some upgrades, but we anticipate being able to get to 100% of our cash goal by the time we close and if we don’t, then we will take the rest of it from our remaining taxable index funds. (Our current plan is to sell the condo after we move and then use that “windfall” balanced between re-investing in taxable index funds and recasting the new mortgage, but we will see how that shifts as the year progresses.)

There was a lot of moving money between buckets this quarter. So far, we have paid 5% in earnest money on the new townhouse. I pulled half of that (so 2.5%) from my money market fund and the other half came from bringing our joint cash reserves down dangerously low (in my opinion with our current cash flow). I’m mostly out of cash now, but my husband has some more cash in his accounts, so we are probably okay-ish on cash, but I’d rather have more. We will, soon, also pay 20% for any upgrades that we choose to do on the new place and then I don’t think we should have any more outgoings related to it until closing or closer to closing.

I’m really excited for the 12 month CDs we found at 2.5%! I’ve always loved CDs. It’s just so fun to get interest payments every month and to watch it definitely go up in value!

Additionally, the 6 months reserve calculation is about 25% low based on current spending, so we will boost it next quarter with the non-salary income, including replenishing it.

58.5% FI progress (up from 53.0% last quarter or 45.0% in December 2017)

Most of the progress this quarter was from the wedding spending dropping off the rolling 12 months of expenses figure, rather than us adding much to our net worth, since it was a relatively flat quarter for net worth. That brings our coast age down to our early 40s, compared to early 50s at the end of last year. Our goal is to get to FI by age 40, so it looks like we are probably ahead of schedule with that at the moment and will see once we change the spreadsheet to use the house instead of the condo.

I plan to continue tracking this figure against the current condo value until we actually close on the new place, to show better continuity of progress. I expect that we will get past 60% by the end of this year. The expenses portion of this figure should only increase by about 10% with the new place – the main increase is from the larger property value than in the non-mortgage housing expenses.

I personally really love this chart! I find it to be much more meaningful than a net worth number.

I have a row in our net worth spreadsheet that estimates the amount needed for FI as the condo value in that column plus 25x the expenses for the last 12 months. This FI progress % is our net worth figure divided by that number. I find this helps to smooth out more expensive months with cheaper months since a lot of our expenses are irregular and also takes into account the fact that I don’t include the mortgage in the expenses, but I do assume the condo would be paid off in the total number we need. I like having this figure re-calculated in each month’s column in the spreadsheet to see how the $ needed for FI changes over time, as well as the progress.

Investments

 

So much activity in this bucket this quarter!

First, we finally opened the joint Vanguard taxable account this quarter! That increased the taxable line a bit and was really emotionally exciting, but then we found a house. Our current cash flow plan involves leaving that account alone.

We each sold some index funds to cover the part of the down payment on the new place. We’re really glad that my husband bought into the condo before we found a new place because that meant I had some liquidity in order to contribute to the down payment! Anyone who says I’m not contributing to this house because I’m not currently working can bugger off because I am bringing half the down payment and own half of our current condo, which I bought by myself when I was single. We picked out the shares to sell in the order of the least tax expensive ones and then set aside amounts we estimated would cover the capital gains taxes in savings, so that we aren’t surprised by the tax bill in April. (I’m not worried about paying a penalty because I know our income has gone up this year versus last year.)

Our taxable accounts are now smaller than our combined 401(k) or Roth IRA accounts. We will fix that again eventually! For now, this category continues to see regular contributions to my husband’s 401(k).

I’ve been debating cashing in one of my 5-year-old Series I savings bonds to make my 2019 Roth IRA contribution because it has a 0% fixed interest rate and I would rather do that than pay taxes on some index funds, except in writing this sentence, I realized I have some index fund shares in taxable that would cost me about $5 in capital gains taxes to sell to fund my 2019 Roth IRA contribution, so I should probably do that instead. I’ll see what things look like in late December. Our agreement with income is that we each get to max out retirement accounts before contributing to the joint cash flow accounts, so any income I find would go towards my retirement contributions first.

Mortgage

6/30/2018 balance: $112,504.52. 9 years, 11 months remaining.

July payment: $823.16 principal, $289.70 interest ($2.11 less than June)

August payment: $825.28 principal, $287.58 interest ($2.12 less than July)

September payment: $827.41 principal, $285.45 interest ($2.13 less than August)

9/30/2018 balance: $110,028.67. 9 years, 8 months remaining.

No extra principal payments this quarter, but that 10 year mortgage sure has a decent amount going to principal with each payment! We paid the mortgage down 2.2% this quarter. We plan to make no extra principal payments now that we know we plan on moving. Looking at our mortgage amortization schedule, the balance should drop to five figures (!!!) with the September 2019 payment and I assume we will still have this mortgage then. I look forward to that day even though we will end up with a new bigger mortgage on the new place! If we weren’t moving, we had planned on paying this off within the next five years, balancing with our investing goals.

Spending ratio – Portion of the ideal annual budget cumulatively

I calculate the spending ratio with expenses in the numerator and the denominator as 4% of our investments plus the value of any redeemed credit card points. The second figure is the cumulative spending so far for the year divided by our ideal annual budget, expressed as a fraction of 12. Both of these figures ignore the mortgage payment.

July – 29.0% – 9.48/12
August – 43.9% – 10.92/12
September – 25.3% – 12.78/12

Q3 – 31.7%

YTD – 44.3%

Q3 was about 85% more expensive than Q1 and about 24% more expensive than Q2. Thanks to not planning a wedding this year, we have spent about 3/4 of what we had spent at this time last year!!! We have spent about 64% of my “low-hanging fruit” “don’t spend more than this large figure” goal, which is awesome! I’ll set a better goal next year since our goal for this year was to have a “normal” year with minimal extra expenses and figure out what that looks like. My “ideal annual budget” figure was clearly far too aggressive though considering that we have spent more than it 3/4 of the way through the year. I expect Q4 to be similar in cost to Q1 and we are on track to spend 15.62 months worth of my ideal annual budget figure.

Our top spending categories this quarter were: housing, H’s personal spending, travel, medical, and my personal spending.

Why was Q3 so expensive? Q3 is when we pay for our big insurance bills: condo insurance, six months of car insurance, and umbrella insurance. We each had a personal trip, a weekend family trip and a week-long vacation. My husband spent 4 months worth of personal spending budget in one month this quarter (he previously had a big buffer). I hit the individual out-of-pocket maximum on our health insurance, which we almost entirely paid for in Q3. We had some legal fees related to the new house and commissioned a beautiful painting from a local artist. Of course, some baby, wedding, Christmas, and birthday gifts were thrown in there too for good measure.

One of our goals with our Donor Advised Fund is to make sure that we are using it to recommend grants on a regular basis. We’ve recommended grants for just about 40% of the amount we’ve contributed to it so far this year. We will add some more to it this year based on this year’s income and then likely not add anything until 2020.

Readers, how was your third quarter?

Advertisements

Q2 2018 Update: 52.8% FI progress

Savings (6 months + 2.37% down payment)

With a large influx of non-salary income this quarter, we accomplished the goal of having 6 months of expenses in savings. We will re-evaluate later in the year if this is an accurate figure. Halfway through the year, it looks like we should increase it by about 14%. We will re-evaluate this at the end of the year since we have plenty of other cash if something did happen.

As I mentioned in my homeownership reflections post recently, we decided to start saving towards a down payment. I estimate that we should be able to squirrel away a 20% down payment for houses in our price range by the end of next year. We have now saved a 2.37% down payment. Our plan is to split savings funds 1/3 to our Vanguard taxable account and 2/3 to this down payment savings fund. We’ll re-evaluate twice a year and when we have a 10% down payment saved.

52.8% FI progress (up from 46.8% last quarter or 45.0% in December 2017)

Last quarter, I noted our FI ratio for the quarter, which was really solid due to Q1 having lower expenses than other quarters. I realized though that it doesn’t show very good progress as our FI ratio this quarter is quite a bit lower, despite a decent net worth increase.

I have a row in our net worth spreadsheet that estimates the amount needed for FI as the condo value in that column plus 25x the expenses for the last 12 months. This FI progress % is our net worth figure divided by that number. I find this helps to smooth out more expensive months with cheaper months since a lot of our expenses are irregular and also takes into account the fact that I don’t include the mortgage in the expenses, but I do assume the condo would be paid off in the total number we need. I like having this figure re-calculated in each month’s column in the spreadsheet to see how the $ needed for FI changes over time, as well as the progress.

We hope to make some solid progress on this figure this year as last year’s expensive months drop off the average, though of course if we move, this number will get recalibrated. We’ve already made some solid progress here – we passed the 50% mark in May and increased it again in June. I expect that we will hit 60% once last year’s wedding expenses drop off in the fall.

Investments

We used the remainder of the non-salary income to start a new joint taxable account, once we decided on an asset allocation. (This money is currently living in a category in YNAB, pending setup of the account at Vanguard, so it’s not shown in this chart.) With the large house down payment split of savings, we decided to skip bonds for now. Regular, monthly 401(k) contributions continued. This was a pretty boring quarter for investments since most of the non-salary income went to cash savings this quarter.

The taxable jump in February (Q1) was pretty exciting though! Both of our taxable accounts are heavier in international stocks, which have been performing poorly this year, so those accounts are down a bit. Both of our Roth IRAs are heavier in US stocks and our 401(k)s have more of a mix. (Can you tell that my husband started investing after we started dating?)

My Series I Savings Bonds aren’t on this chart, though we do count them in the overall Investments figure. I mostly took them off to make the x-axis less clear. I’ve had my oldest ones for over 5 years now, so they don’t have the three month interest penalty anymore!

Mortgage

3/31/2018 balance: $114,535.01. 12 years, 0 months remaining.

Interest at closing to old and new lenders: $484.38 old and $281.73 new, plus $295 refinance fee

April principal only payments: $670.85 plus $87.73 in post-closing refunds from the old and new mortgage

May principal only payment: $670.85

June payment: $821.05 principal, $291.81 interest ($102.66 less than the last regular payment in March)

6/30/2018 balance: $112,504.52. 9 years, 11 months remaining.

We budgeted to make principal payments in April and May to make sure that we were budgeting the full amount we wanted to for the whole year, even though the mortgage company gave us two full months without payments. Those two amounts were about 1% of the March mortgage balance, so that still made a dent. We paid the mortgage down 1.7% this quarter and are at over 60% paid of the original balance now, six years in.

Spending ratio – Portion of the ideal annual budget cumulatively

I calculate the spending ratio with expenses in the numerator and the denominator as 4% of our investments plus the value of any redeemed credit card points. The second figure is the cumulative spending so far for the year divided by our ideal annual budget, expressed as a fraction of 12. Both of these figures ignore the mortgage payment.

April – 40.9% – 4.43/12
May – 44.6% – 5.81/12
June – 45.2% – 7.37/12

Q2 – 43.6%

H1 – 53.4%

Q2 was more expensive than Q1 by 50%, similar to last year. We spent about 25% less in H1 this year than we did in last year, which is mostly explained by the honeymoon and wedding spending not happening this year. Most of the increase between Q2 and Q1 this year is explained by the fact that our Q2 housing spending was about 2.5x the Q1 housing spending.

We are 6 months into the year and we have spent 7.37 months worth of my ideal annual budget for the year. It looks like that was probably a bit too aggressive. I’ll keep tracking in relation to that same figure here for the rest of the year for consistency. We have spent 20% less YTD than we had at this point last year ignoring wedding expenses though, so that is a strong improvement.

Our top three categories this quarter were: housing, food, and my personal spending. Our three most expensive months so far this year were all in Q2. Interestingly, April and June were in our top three most expensive months last year as well, though not May.

Housing was expensive because we paid half of our annual property taxes, a special assessment to the condo association, and spent 1.5x what we spent all last year on maintenance, plus Q2 has two electricity bills versus Q1’s one electricity bill. We hired multiple people to do several small projects this quarter: fixed the hinges on one of the bathroom doors, fixed the one shower door so it actually moves, installed a fan switch in the other bathroom (one already had it), fixed a toilet that wasn’t flushing anymore, dealt with a moth infestation (including the dry cleaning bill and super jumbo ziploc bags to store our clothes and other linens), some liquid plumber drain for our kitchen sink issues (just supplies – we did that one ourselves), replaced a light fixture that we hated and could not handle a LED bulb, and separated the bathrooms onto their own GFI systems. Those projects all cost $1600. We contemplated adding another heater, but that estimate was $3000 due to the damage and needing to re-do our circuit breaker so we will probably just not do that. Our oven temperature has been having issues too and our dryer is pretty squeaky… This counted in the Shopping:Furnishings category, but we also bought some shelving for our laundry closet which is working out much better than our previous system of stacking tons of boxes and bins on top of packages of toilet paper until we wanted to use the toilet paper.

I’m really excited to go to the Cents Positive Retreat in November that Tanja is organizing! It will be exciting to meet some of my internet friends in person! I am also going on a trip with my sibling later this year. In irregular personal spending, I replaced my hiking backpack this quarter because the mesh was worn out and fuzzing up all of my lovely clothes…

We spent an amazing week on a nearby road trip checking out sites, which was super fun and gorgeous! It was part of our plan to stay closer to home to save money on travel costs but still have fun adventures. We are considering another road trip for the early fall.

In other spending, we bought a new ice cream scoop after the one I inherited many years ago started leaving peeling metal in our ice cream, replaced our Magic Bullet cups since the plastic was warping and we use it all the time, and bought a new lens for our fancy camera because the kit lens was having a lot of issues even after we repaired it last year. We’ve already spent more money on fuel this year ($243.39) than all of last year ($234.51). We have been driving more, but also gas prices are up from last year. I’ve been using my husband’s free work benefit bus pass and then he has a card we put on auto-reload, which has been working out well – we’ve been spending about $15/month on transit for him. We had anniversary photos taken with our wedding photographer, which was lovely! We hope to do that regularly since we get photos of us together taken so infrequently otherwise.

YNAB is still going well! We are pleased with it. The two best things about it are: 1) my husband opens the app and 2) it’s super easy to enter transactions at the time I buy something while I’m out with the app on my phone.

Readers, how was your Q2?

Q1 2018 Update: 67.8% FI ratio

I didn’t update much last year as things were so much in flux with how we were managing our finances. I feel like they’ve settled a bit more now, so it’ll be easier to update again. Excuse the dust as I figure out the best way to update on things going forward. Our goals at this point seem to be (1) pay off the mortgage within 10 years before we are both 40, (2) use all tax-advantaged investment space available to us, (3) budget our spending and invest everything else in a Vanguard taxable account once we have enough buffer in savings, and (4) have 25 years of expenses in investments, with at least 10 of those years in taxable accounts, by the time we are both 40.

Savings (0.79-1.1 months)

We spent much of 2017 riding the credit card float, so this feels like a good start. We have a solid cash holding in each of our separate accounts, but we want to develop a solid holding in our joint accounts too. We haven’t decided how many months we want yet, so we will plug away at it until we find the right number. This is our primary savings goal at the moment and then we will switch over to taxable investments once we reach it. As of the end of March, we were sitting at 0.79 ideal months including the mortgage payment as an expense, or 1.1 months once we allocated the March income. That obviously needs a bit of work! We did get a mid-four figure income tax refund (setting your withholding correctly with two people and multiple income streams is way harder than it was with one person with one income stream), which helped jump start that account, among other cash flow items.

Investments

I didn’t really update much last year, but we hit a really exciting milestone last year – our combined taxable accounts surpassed our 401(k) balances in June 2017! That was pretty cool to see. For people who discover FIRE in their thirties or later, they seem to often have much larger 401(k) balances than taxable, but that is not the case with us. (You can see this in the chart – it’s of our investment types over time in 2017.)

In 2017, our combined investments saw a six figure gain! That was pretty cool. In January, they increased by a multiple of our gross income for the month, which was pretty cool. (Of course, they promptly lost most of that in February, which was also the largest drop we’ve seen in one month so far.)

We both made our 2018 Backdoor Roth IRA contributions at 12:01 am on January 1st, from separate cash. Why 12:01 am even though they don’t post until overnight on the 2nd? For fun, because we were awake, and then it was checked off!

My husband has been contributing enough to his 401(k) each month to max out the $18,500 employee contribution and get his full employer match each paycheck. Unfortunately/fortunately, he received a distribution from his 401(k) in March due to being classified as a highly-compensated employee. He invested it, including the taxes they withheld from the distribution, into his taxable account, re-balancing.

Our taxable accounts saw substantial contributions this quarter, as we put some lingering cash to work once we came to an agreement about sharing the condo equity.

We plan on opening up a joint Vanguard taxable account sometime this year. We have been working through many questions:

  1. What fund do we want to use in Joint Taxable for bonds? We’ve both mostly followed the advice to keep bonds in our pre-tax 401(k)s, but since we are in our early thirties, we don’t want to weight our 401(k)s too heavily towards bonds, especially when they are already at 36% across the two accounts. That means that we will definitely be putting bonds in our taxable account and are leaning towards using an intermediate-term tax-exempt bond fund.
  2. Do we want to manage our joint investments as a third portfolio, separate from our existing personal investments?
  3. What asset allocation do we want to use? We both already are at 50/50 US/international stock indices, but one of us has more in bonds than the other, so we need to figure out how to balance that.

Mortgage

12/31/2017 balance: $115,761.14. 10 years, 9 months remaining.

January payment: $786.15 principal, $241.17 interest

February payment: $219.61 principal, $395.23 interest (that’s what re-amortizing to 25 years left at 4.125% and only paying the required payment does. We budgeted for the original payment but only paid the required one to allow for a buffer for closing costs on the anticipated refinance.)

March payment: $220.37 principal, $394.47 interest

3/31/2018 balance: $114,535.01. 12 years, 0 months remaining. (That’s what happens when the interest rate jumps. It’ll go back down to 10 years left in May since we refinanced.)

Spending Ratio – Portion of the ideal annual budget cumulatively 

January – 54.6% – 1.15/12
February – 73.1% – 2.02/12
March – 79.2% – 2.97/12

Q1 – 67.8%

I calculate the spending ratio with expenses in the numerator and the denominator as 4% of our investments plus the value of any redeemed credit card points. The second figure is the cumulative spending so far for the year divided by our ideal annual budget, expressed as a fraction of 12. Both of these figures ignore the mortgage payment.

The denominator covered all non-mortgage housing, food, transportation, personal care, and medical expenses throughout all months in Q1! That’s some pretty solid progress. Remaining categories to work through are: entertainment, shopping, travel, life, and his and hers spending.

When you take out the mortgage payment, our top three spending categories in Q1 were food, housing, and travel, in that order. (Is that a good thing or a bad thing that we spend more on food than housing ignoring the mortgage payment?)

In housing, our condo fees are up 50% from 2017 and our property taxes also went up substantially as well. That combination is now about $910/month, compared to $530/month when I bought the place six years ago. Whoever says that housing doesn’t go up when you buy a place is lying.

In travel, we had a weekend getaway and bought flights for a summer wedding. We used UR points for the flights, but we budget for the full cost of trips and then count the amount of any points redeemed to cover a part as spending and then the same amount as income. We don’t see points as free money. We are still hovering around 200,000 UR points, thanks to both of us getting the 100,000 bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, our wedding venue qualifying as a restaurant, and paying cash for all of our honeymoon hotels (via Hotels.com and cashback sites!) and having many UR cards (Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and one Reserve), despite using UR points to cover our honeymoon flights last year.

In other spending, we made some updates to our postnuptial agreement (and resolved to hopefully never do that again because two lawyers aren’t cheap), bought a lovely leather wedding album and some other prints <3, replaced some sheets after we found a hole in one of our two sets, and spent more on bicycle maintenance than car maintenance. My husband says that’s because the bicycles are the “daily driver” and the car is for long road trips.

Readers, how was your Q1?

2017 Half-Year Update

Income

This year so far has been a relatively boring year for income, which has been surprisingly not that noticeable, probably thanks to my front loading my retirement accounts last year.

  • ($384) My portion of the extra income taxes due (marriage tax penalty)
  • $2,513 My portion of the value of the credit card points redeemed or rebates from cash back sites
  • $68 Last paycheck from my fall part-time gig for a professor in my program
  • ~1 month’s salary gross: deferred compensation from my former employer, from which they withheld way more taxes than they needed to with my low income this year, so I should receive all ~$3,000 of the unnecessary taxes withheld back in early 2018
  • Generous four figure sum: We received and deposited the generous wedding present from my parents this year. It went straight into the “Wedding Gifts” savings account where I’ve been putting any wedding presents until we use them for something specific, at which point I transfer the money into our checking account.

Net Worth and Cash Flow

Personal

As of June 30th, my net worth is up 1.1% for the year. I was originally projecting a 1.4% decrease for the year, but the stock market has had a mind of its own,
so I’m currently forecasting to be up 0.7% for the year, assuming no further income. That’s not too bad for taking a year off from full-time employment, during which I’m paying grad school tuition and for my portion of a wedding reception.

My June reconciling left $17,247 in my personal savings account, which should last me through the end of February at my current spending rate. I have a separate savings account from which I pay my grad school tuition, which is on track, ~$20,000 in Series I Savings Bonds, and ~$25,000 in my Vanguard money market fund. After covering my part of the wedding, all of those non-tuition cash accounts combined would last me for two years, through sometime in July 2019. Once I start a job again, I’ll experiment with how low I’m willing to let my cash reserves go, whether I’m comfortable going down to $10,000 and investing the rest. The most I can realistically see leaving in a savings account is $20,000.

Family

Our combined net worth, on the other hand, is up 13% since we got married, which is just incredible. The condo equity represents about a third of our combined net worth, which is a pretty reasonable figure.

On the household accounts side, we have a primary checking account which is used for cash flow, budgeting, and paying the credit card balances at the end of the month, a “Wedding Gifts” savings account, and a general savings account. We keep a one month ($3,000) buffer in the checking account and we have a second one month buffer in the general savings account. We also have a joint Schwab checking account that we use for international ATM withdrawals. (I closed my personal one when we made the joint one.) Lastly, our Donor Advised Fund doesn’t count in our net worth as it’s not legally ours anymore since it’s already been donated to Schwab Charitable.

Investments

My husband has started the process of buying into the condo. I used these funds to make my full 2017 Roth IRA contribution back in January and then in June, I transferred the entire amount that he gave me into my Vanguard taxable account. I added $10,000 into my international stock index holding, rebalanced between international and US stocks in my Roth IRA, and left the remainder in the money market fund. I set up a $500 automatic exchange from the money market fund into the international stock index for each of the remaining months in 2017 (one has already happened!) and left the rest alone.

Why didn’t I invest the entire amount? I wanted to wait until we have a firmer picture of how much the wedding reception will cost and until I’ve started a job before investing the entire amount. I left a generous eight months of expenses in the money market fund for now. I’m sleeping great at night, so this seems like a reasonable approach for now.

Why did I send all of the money to Vanguard if I wasn’t going to invest it all? I wanted to be really prudent with this money as it was previously locked up as condo equity and not spendable. Putting it all in Vanguard helped to see it as transferring the money from condo equity to more liquid investments, rather than as money available for spending. The Vanguard money market funds have pretty comparable returns to my Alliant Credit Union savings account, so they seemed like a reasonable parking spot for now.

As of June 30th, my investments are up an absurd $25,605 for the year so far solely on market returns. The last few years were not great for international stock returns and they seem to be making up for that this year, which with my staunch 50/50 US/International split has done wonders for my portfolio returns this year. My 401(k), which is relatively heavy in international stocks at the moment, is up $13,075 with the markets this year, which is about 70% of what one is allowed to contribute to such a plan each year.

In May, I tried an experiment of not checking my investment balances all month until it was time to update my net worth. I managed to make it with only peeking once, which I’m calling a success based on my behavior in the previous months of the year. I ran the experiment again in June and I barely peeked when I made my Vanguard contributions. It seems this habit has successfully mostly stuck for now!

Not paying the mortgage in 2017 has seen some months starting to get very visually closer to the passive income (credit card rewards and selling stuff) + 4% of investments line. It’s incredible and really motivating! It makes me want to find more money to add to my investments to get those lines closer together.

And then here’s a similar view with the percentage of expenses covered by 4% SWR + Passive Income, but dating back to January 2010:

4/6 of the months so far in 2017 have been over 50%, which is incredible to see! I’m forecasting that I’ll surpass 100% one month this year, which I’m really excited to see!

Spending

As the year has gone on, we’ve been continually discussing what should be personal or household spending. It’s been evolving over time and we’ve reimbursed each other from the joint account back dating to January 1st for anything we spent this year. The main changes are:

  • Any bags of coffee bought count as “Groceries” and are thus household, but takeout coffee is personal spending
  • If we’re out at a restaurant together, the entire meal is household, even if one of us drinks or eats more than the other (my husband used to pick up the entire tab if he spent much more or we would pay based on what we ate)
  • If I grab takeout for lunch because there isn’t food to eat for lunch in the house, that counts as household spending. (Realistically: all food except for food where one spouse is out without the other spouse counts as household spending.)
  • Any medical related expenses are household
  • At home exercise equipment is household, even if only one of us uses it (but outside of the house fitness is personal spending)
  • Most toiletries are now household (shampoo, conditioner, other hair products, deodorant, allergy medicine, dermatologist products, body wash, moisturizer, feminine hygiene products, etc.). If a product was bought at the grocery store or at Costco, it was previously considered household, but if it was bought somewhere else, it ended up being personal spending, which we’ve corrected. Eyebrow waxes and make-up are still considered personal spending.
  • My husband’s Amazon account should probably be double checked every month or so since he’s bad at remembering to use the right credit card and usually just lets the default payment method take care of things.

I’ve been marking these items, as well as anything else we forget to budget for (condo and umbrella insurance, ahem) out of the “Miscellaneous” category from our budget and then next year, we’ll add the items to the budget more accurately.

The below chart counts all household spending as being half mine and also includes my personal spending. Without the mortgage payment, only 17% of my spending for the first half of 2017 was on housing! My half of the household spending plus my personal spending came to $20,157.28 or an average of $3,359.55 per month. Considering that last year, I spent $3,868.10/month on average in the first half of the year which included a $1,027.32/month mortgage payment, I’ve spent about $518.77/month on average more in 2017 than I did in 2016, which is probably mostly explained by the frontloaded travel spending this year and that we didn’t buy any Christmas flights in 2016. I expect my H2 spending to come in about $1,000/month under my 2016 H2 spending, even accounting for the difference in mortgage payment and paying for the wedding.

Household spending

Note that all of the numbers below are the full household numbers, meaning that my portion is half of those numbers.

Category Budget Actual Avg. Monthly Description
Travel $5,000.00 $10,854.17 $1,809.03 All travel pre-booked for the year. This covers our Christmas flights and lodging, a trip for a friend’s milestone birthday, a weekend getaway, and airfare and lodging for our Italy honeymoon coming up in the fall. We went over-budget on all of the trips, but we skipped one, so we’re technically under the travel budget for the year by $1,277.
Housing $8,897.23 $8,235.96 $1,372.66 Very little condo maintenance so far this year ($285), which is why we’re under budget. Otherwise, we’ve been paying monthly HOA dues and paid this year’s special assessment, paid half of the year’s property taxes, paid for the winter electricity, paid Comcast every month, and our mostly-biweekly house cleaners. My husband is paying the mortgage out of his personal cash flow.
Food $4,490.00 $4,373.91 $727.44 This is mostly groceries ($3,188) and Costco ($420), with the rest being convenience food. We’ve been averaging about 20% above our grocery budget for the year ($450/month), but a lot of toiletries end up in here too as well as cards.
Wedding ~ $3,628.80 $604.80 This includes the last bills for the postnuptial agreement ($650), my wedding dress (under $400), some cake tasting fees, our cake deposit, and a cake topper ($622.50), DJ deposit ($1,100), hair and makeup deposit ($200), paper invitations, RSVP cards and address labels ($57.82), and photographer deposit ($500). I’ll write a post about this all more specifically once I have final numbers.
Entertainment $756.06 $2,013.01 $335.50 This budget is a bit fuzzy because the “Restaurants” budget is included in the “Food” budget, but “Date night” spending ($1,188) went here, same with meals with friends ($121). This also includes our annual theatre tickets ($510), Pandora and Spotify music subscriptions ($125), and Netflix ($66).
Shopping ~ $1,551.84 $258.64 The last piece of our new living room furniture ($637), a popcorn popper ($21), replenishing measuring cups ($36), picture hangers ($26), a blanket and five tablecloths ($160), Lightroom ($66), replacing our seven year old mattress cover ($33), replacing some old towels ($173), repairing our camera lens ($264), a sun alarm clock ($119), replacing a five year old soap dispenser ($15), some vacuum sealing clothing bags ($20), some pieces to attach some of the new furniture ($30), and annual Prime membership ($109).
Personal care ~ $447.59 $74.60 Shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, cleanser, shower cap, allergy medicine, etc.
Gifts and Donations $440.00 $407.24 $67.87 This covers one wedding gift and three baby gifts, some cards, and some stamps because we keep losing them and we’ve mailed paper invitations to anyone who has asked for one. We used our Donor Advised Fund for another wedding gift, so that isn’t accounted for here.
Transportation $430.02 $376.16 $62.69 We are way under budget on gas (averaging $20 per month instead of $30) because we’ve bought most of it at Costco this year, which is unusual. Also included is a new battery for the car and jumper cables ($150), some Lyft rides ($83), and one time of parking ($0.58).
Life ~ $18.84 $3.14 Updated insurance on my ring set – most of the premium was paid in December.
Recreation ~ $11.76 $1.96 One, two and three pound weights
Medical bills ~ $6.00 $0.50 A resistance band for physical therapy. Not included here are the insurance premiums that are taken out of my husband’s paychecks pre-tax every month. We’ll reconcile that into being household spending come tax time. So far, we’ve paid nothing out of pocket for medical stuff this year.
Total $19,152.11 $31,925.28 $5,319.34 Only $2,013.60 over budget if you take out the wedding and honeymoon, which weren’t budgeted for, that isn’t too bad considering that we frontloaded much of our travel spending for the year.

We’ve decided to use my parents’ wedding gift for our honeymoon. We bought the flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards points from our Sapphire Reserve card and I transferred the amount we’ve prepaid so far for lodging from the “Wedding Gifts” savings account into the household checking account.

We are both really looking forward to hosting our wedding reception this fall! The numbers are still reasonably variable since we’re still waiting on most of the RSVPs, which is why I haven’t talked that much about the budget. The wedding costs have been covered so far by calculating how much off-budget expenses happened in a month, dividing that in half, and each of us transferring that into the household checking account. Now that we’re getting into the home stretch, we actually know the amounts that are due before we pay them (versus picking a vendor and then immediately needing to pay a deposit), so we transferred the anticipated amounts at the beginning of July for the costs that month and we’ll repeat that in August and September.

Other than Groceries and missing a ton of line items (oops), we have been doing reasonably okay with our first attempt at a budget! I’ve been pleased with how it’s going.

Personal spending

I’m really proud of how I’ve done with my personal spending this year. I’ve been significantly more conscious about it this year and reduced my personal spending (within the same scope) by more than half from what I spent last year, which is a huge part of how I’m covering my part of the wedding reception costs without spending down my savings too quickly.

I mentioned this in earlier posts, but the way I’m budgeting this year is that I took my savings account balance on 12/31/2016 and have added in all income I’ve brought in this year. That figure is now up to $37,500. On the first of every month, I transfer $1,500 to the household checking account to cover my part of the household budget. I add up how much I need to replenish my checking account for the prior month’s spending that and transfer that money. Once all that’s done, if I’ve spent less than N/12ths of the total annual budget (where N is the current month), I transfer the excess to my personal “Wedding” savings account. My husband just takes money out of somewhere when a bill needs to be paid, but I prefer doing it this way so it doesn’t feel like it’s withdrawn all at once from my savings account.

Category H1 Avg. Monthly Description
Clothing $2,044.90 $340.82 $837.56 of this was on replacing my underwear and my annual bras stock-up. This year, I splurged and bought six bras instead of my usual five, so that I don’t have to wash them quite as often.
Transportation $783.62 $130.60 $252 of this is bus passes that I’m required to pay for through grad school and are really useful. $522 was the six months of car insurance that I paid for in January and $10 was a Lyft home one time.
Recreation $378.77 $63.13 A pair of running shoes ($161) and two months of unlimited barre classes ($109 each) – yay for student rates!
Personal care $351.08 $58.51 Four eyebrow waxes ($80), mascara and eyeshadow replacement ($43), returning a product that didn’t work out ($3), and two facials ($223). I’ve since eliminated the facials from my budget as the eyebrow waxes provide just as much joy.
Entertainment $246.31 $41.05 I accidentally bought two books thinking I had some e-book credit left ($23). “The Power of the Past: Understanding Cross-Class Marriages” has been fascinating. I also renewed my personal domain ($9) and enjoyed several social outings with friends ($215).
Gifts and Donations $200.78 $33.46 My husband’s birthday present. I used some points to pay for part of it, but those count in income and the full amount of the present here.
Housing $159.33 $26.56 Monthly cell phone bill with Cricket Wireless. The plan gives me 1 GB of data and unlimited minutes and texts, which seems to be mostly working great.
Travel $27.50 $4.58 $7.50 was when my husband and I each bought the same snack while traveling and we paid for it separately and $20 was transferring some airline miles to my husband to keep both of our accounts active.
Medical bills $23.30 $3.88 Coinsurance from some 2016 medical usage.
Shopping ($20.95) ($3.49) My husband used some of a credit I had at a store and reimbursed me, hence the spending credit. I also replaced my sunglasses case that I seem to have misplaced.
Total $4,194.64 $699.11

If you take out the car insurance which is a household expense starting in July, I spent $612.14/month on average covering all of these categories for all of the items it covered.

I started a new spreadsheet this year which tracks my clothing spending. For each item purchased, I note the date (including month & quarter), category (necessities or wants), and subcategory (underwear, winter clothes, outerwear, athletic wear, bras, summer clothes, or shoes), price, and a description. I’m finding it really helpful to separate the necessities (underwear, bras, socks, sports bras, and having workout crops that fit so I actually go work out) from the wants.

I’ve been so consistent at working out this year that I sized my workout crops down yet again, of which I picked up two pairs in Q2. I like wearing the now-huge workout tops as it reminds me of how much my body has shifted in the last year. Last July, I hit my peak weight. A year later, I’m down 5-6 percentage points of body fat (it fluctuates a bit day to day) and I’ve lost about 8% of what I weighed last July. Those numbers matter way less than how incredible my body feels, how much stronger I’ve become, and how much more positive I am with the increased level of exercise. In June, I finally surpassed an average of 10,000 steps per day for the first time this year, which felt great. I had been increasing my monthly step goal a little bit each month until I finally got there. It’s a lot of work getting that many steps per day AND making it to as many barre classes as I have, which is part of how blogging has fallen by the way side. All around, I’ve just been feeling really great this year!

Readers, how is your 2017 going so far?

February 2017 update

My February net worth was only down about $1,000, which is notable because my total net income was $1,100 and I paid a large grad school tuition bill. I anticipate my net worth going down 1.4% from December 2016 to December 2017 and so far it is up 0.2%, which is on schedule.

It’s been really fun watching my investments so far this year while I’ve been with minimal income. So far, 2017 has seen a good run in the stock markets and that has catapulted my investments over $300,000, which is notable because that means a 4% SWR would allow me to withdraw $1,000/month, which is a lovely round number! My expenses in February were low enough that the current allowable 4% SWR would cover 53% of my expenses!! That’s the highest % I’ve seen yet, so I’m quite excited! The previous high was 28.3%.

2017-february-4-expense-coverage

Action items

I set monthly goals in my planner and then check in on them at the end of the month. I started doing this in 2016 and it has been great! They’re a mix of action items and routines I want to cultivate.

We prepared our tax return, figured out how much we owe, and calculated the split. We had one final bit to double check (which I’ve fixed as I write this), so we’ll file the return in March.

In January and February, I only went to 5 barre classes each month. This is bad because I have a bunch of punch cards that expire in May. I’ve made a personal challenge for March to go to 14 barre classes – 3 classes per week. We’ll see how this goes! If I can stick to a 3 day per week schedule, I should use up my already paid for classes  before they expire. (So far, as of writing this on March 6th, I’ve been to 3 classes, so I believe in myself!)

We picked a cake vendor for the wedding reception and paid that deposit in February, so it looks like we should have a few months of no wedding expenses, which will be nice. And now I’m looking forward to delicious cake!!!

Cash flow

I’m managing my personal cash flow right now by keeping three savings accounts: one for grad school tuition, one for living expenses covering the remainder of 2017 and then one for living expenses in 2018 which will simply turn into cash reserves if when I end up with a paying full-time job again. I have an automatic transfer of $1,500 on the 1st of every month to the joint checking account to cover my half of the expenses. I then take any extra money out I need to cover expenses as needed rather than transferring out a fixed amount. The grad school savings account is on track and the 2018 living expenses account is currently empty. The 2017 living expenses account had $24,105.55 in it at the end of February, when it should have $31,115.85 in it to get through the year. I’m anticipating deferred compensation income from my former employer in Q1 and a small personal income tax refund that will cover this difference with a small bit leftover to go into the 2018 savings account. I do have another $20,548 in Series I Savings Bonds that I could cash in and another $16,000 in Vanguard taxable index funds.

My goal is to pay for my half of the wedding reception out of my $36,000 budget for the year. $18,000 of that is the joint spending plan, which leaves $18,000 for personal spending. I estimate there is $10,796.32 left for me to pay for the wedding reception, which leaves me with $3,616.55 remaining for personal spending with ten months remaining in 2017. That’s definitely going to be a bit tighter than I’m used to, so I’m going to keep an eye on things as the year goes on.

Personal spending

Totaled at $187.12! I’ve been following Cait’s Mindful Budgeting Program and the best money spent each week was:

  1. Dinner with a friend
  2. Coffee with a friend / A dress for our wedding reception (eee!) / A product I bought per the recommendation of my dermatologist that quickly made a difference!
  3. Getting my eyebrows waxed – I really love the person I’ve been seeing for years now.

Notice a pattern here? I do! I probably would have also written the tasting fee for the cake vendor we ended up picking because it was SO delicious!

I have to say, it is really lovely not having the mortgage payment each month!

Joint spending

Our spending was pretty simple this month! In reviewing this though, I realized I forgot to set up the auto bill pay for the HOA dues, so we didn’t pay those in February… We’ll just end up double paying in March to compensate. This is a huge part of why I am not a fan of monthly budgets and prefer annual ones – the months can be so variable.

  • Entertainment: $42.68 for Lightroom, Netflix, Spotify Family, and Pandora
  • Groceries: $503.70
  • Restaurants: $103.87 – this is two outings.
  • Electricity: $93.73 – this is super low because I had prepaid a bit in December.
  • Housecleaning: $220
  • Travel: $261.55 – miscellaneous costs for our weekend trip in February
  • Miscellaneous: $72.64 – a blanket and something else
  • Total without reception: $1,298.68
  • Reception: $2,127.72 – one cake tasting fee, DJ deposit, my wedding dress (under $400!), and cake deposit
  • Total with reception: $3,426.40

I prepaid Comcast in December, so we didn’t pay them in February. No gas fill-ups this month either.

Readers, how was your February? Do you track how much of your spending would be covered by your investments?

January 2017 update

It took until the end of January for me to really sit down and figure out a plan for 2017. I now have a plan in place for: graduating with my Masters, a timeline for a honeymoon, and a strong cost estimate of the wedding reception. What I plan to do after my Masters is still TBD, though I do plan to figure that out by the end of 2017.

My January net worth was up 0.4%, which is mostly notable because my total income was $180 and the last positive net worth change I saw was in August 2016. I anticipate my net worth going down 1.4% from December 2016 to December 2017. I did make my 2017 Backdoor Roth IRA contribution on January 1st.

Goals

I set monthly goals in my planner and then check in on them at the end of the month. I started doing this in 2016 and it has been great! They’re a mix of action items and routines I want to cultivate.

  1. Done! Max Roth IRA – done 1/1
  2. Pass! Drink 64 oz of water per day. I drank 59.3 oz/day on average, which is 93% of the way there.
  3. Ehhh. Walk 10,000 steps per day. I averaged 7,246 per day, which is on par for most Januarys so I reduced my February goal to 8,000 steps.
  4. Partway. 2 barre classes per week (5/8) This means I made it once a week every week which isn’t nearly as bad! I made my February goal once per week and hopefully I’ll find the scheduling to get there twice. It’s getting a little tight on some punch cards I bought in the fall so hopefully they don’t end up getting wasted.
  5. Success! Clothing whitelist only.
  6. Success! Early February trip booked.
  7. Success! Discretionary spending under $1,000. I’m trying to make sure that my limited budget still has room for some personal luxuries. It helps that I stocked up on barre punch cards in the fall when there was a sale so I won’t need to buy any for a bit and there are definitely luxuries built into the joint budget.
  8. Fail! One personal finance blog post per week. (1/4)
  9. Success! Donor Advised Fund plan. We agreed that each person got to have the final vote on where their portion of the donation money went, but we were to make the plan and do the grants together. We made donations to a neighborhood food bank, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Wikipedia, the Electronic Frontier Fund, a local women’s homeless shelter and some other local charities that my husband supports. I am further donating my time by volunteering to prepare tax returns through VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), which is really fun!

Cash flow

I’m managing my personal cash flow right now by keeping three savings accounts: one for grad school tuition, one for living expenses covering the remainder of 2017 and then one for living expenses in 2018 which will simply turn into cash reserves if I end up with a paying full-time job again. I have an automatic transfer of $1,500 on the 1st of every month to the joint checking account to cover my half of the expenses. I then take any extra money out I need to cover expenses as needed rather than transferring out a fixed amount. The grad school savings account is on track and the 2018 living expenses account is currently empty. The 2017 living expenses account had $26,952.93 in it at the end of January, when it should have $33,000.00 in it to get through the year. I’m anticipating deferred compensation income from my former employer in Q1 and a small personal income tax refund that will cover this difference with a small bit leftover to go into the 2018 savings account. I do have another $20,548 in Series I Savings Bonds that I could cash in and another $16,000 in Vanguard taxable index funds.

My goal is to pay for my half of the wedding reception out of my $36,000 budget for the year. $18,000 of that is the joint spending plan, which leaves $18,000 for personal spending. With $12,000 allotted for the wedding reception, I have $6,000 to work with for personal spending in 2017, which means I need to make it count! I estimated that my personal spending was about $20,000 in 2016, so this is going to be a huge experiment.

Personal spending

2017 January Personal Spending.png

I’m setting a monthly budget for my personal spending and then checking in on it throughout the month. January was a really good start!

Transportation: This should hopefully be the last time I have to pay for the car insurance out of personal spending! Transit is paid per academic period and is a reasonable price for how much I use it.

Shopping: For clothing, I replaced some underwear, which was on my whitelist. I also bought two pens and a notebook. I’m otherwise working on shopping my closet this year ;)

Entertainment: I renewed my personal domain, switching registrars to a cheaper one and had one dinner out with a friend.

Food is mostly the occasional lunch out on class days due to awkward timing of the class.

Cell phone: I switched to a cheaper data plan by reducing my data usage and in the process, reducing the time I spend on my phone per day to under two hours! My budget here was completely off because I’d changed plans after I’d already paid for the previous month. We didn’t make our cell phone bills joint because my husband pays for way more data than I do and his employer reimburses him for part of his plan.

Medical: This was paying for the remaining December medical costs. Despite my husband’s work having great health insurance, the premiums to add me were really expensive (as in about 5x what he was paying for himself). We’ll sort that all out at tax time in 2018 though, so month-to-month it will look like I’m spending very little on medical for most of 2017. I also have about $3,800 in an HSA that is helpful here.

Toiletries is low because I returned some products that I had bought in November/December that weren’t working.

If you take out the transportation, cell phone, and medical expenses, that leaves me with $380.26 in discretionary spending in January, which isn’t that bad! That’s basically my February budget ($300: $100 food, $100 entertainment, $30 cell phone, $20 eyebrows, and $50 toiletries).

Joint spending

2017 January Joint Spending.png

We also were pretty on budget with the joint spending! We were only $15.89 over our monthly cash in if you take out the two unbudgeted expenses. We each transferred in funds to cover the negative portion of the cashflow.

I hid the HOA dues from this view. We paid two months in January based on how things fell.

Entertainment is just a cash refund from a merchant that overcharged us and then couldn’t refund our credit card. I keep meaning to use it towards groceries because I hate carrying cash but I never have it on me when I’m at the grocery store…

Spotify is Spotify family. We have an account each, an account for our home stereo system (so there is no conflicting), and each of our dads have an account. We should really cancel Pandora since we mostly use Spotify but we’re grandfathered into the old rate plan and I’m having a hard time giving it up…

There is a Groceries budget listed here but we don’t follow it – it’s the average of our 2016 spending. We don’t meal plan other than that we usually eat chicken two nights, pasta two nights, beef one night, and repeat one of those the other two nights or be lazy. Restaurants is one lazy night in and otherwise food around meeting up with wedding reception vendors, as was the one Uber (which I should rename Lyft because we’ve switched loyalties to Lyft based on their current public stance).

Furnishings is the remaining item for the living room remodel. We are so close to being done with that at last!

Gifts is a wedding gift, two baby gifts, and cards for them.

I prepaid Comcast in December, so we didn’t pay them in January.

One tank of gas in January, which was near the end so we might not fill up in February.

Travel was flights and hotel for our early February weekend trip. The hotel nights were technically paid with points, which I count as spending in the approximate cost of the nights had we paid for them ourselves and as income to balance it out to zero.

Miscellaneous was jewelry insurance on my rings, picture hangers, a popcorn popper, and a measuring cup.

Wedding was the remainder of our postnuptial agreement costs, cake tasting fees, photographer deposit, and tickets to a show.

Readers, how was your January?

April 2016 net worth update (+1.6%)

In April, I:

  1. contributed ~15% of the amount I can contribute to my 401(k) after-tax, for a total year-to-date contribution of ~40% of the maximum.
  2. sold the Q1 ESPP shares and transferred their value to my general savings account.
  3. paid half of my annual property taxes. They’re up about $1,000 for the year from what I paid four years ago.
  4. made my 2016 Backdoor Roth IRA contribution of $5,500.
  5. saw my tuition reimbursement for the academic period that started in January and some other work reimbursements.
  6. saved 79% of my net income for a total savings rate overall so far of 76%. Looking at my income spreadsheet, I saw about 40% of my expected gross income for the 2016 calendar year in the first four months of the year (first 33% of the year). I expect my savings rate to be about 60% per month going forward until I hit the Social Security maximum and that my overall savings rate for the year will be about 70% before grad school withdrawals.
  7. saw my net worth go up by $12,000 to $703,000, which if you’re following along closely is up $102,300 from my December 2015 reported net worth or about 17%. Four months is definitely the fastest I’ve seen a $100,000 increase in net worth yet!!! (note that I rounded this number differently than the ones in the table below) About half of that increase was updating the book value of my condo and the other half was savings / employer 401(k) matching / stock markets.

Since I have another $100,000 in the books, let’s take a look at the table I used in previous years:

31-Dec-2015 30-Apr-2016 YTD
cash $7,200 $8,500 +$1,300
savings $70,600 $73,900 +$3,300
investments $207,000 $251,000 +$44,000
+21.3%
mortgage $134,100 $131,100 +$3,000
+2.2%
net worth $600,700 $702,300 +$101,600
+16.9%
taxable assets – debts $41,600 $30,300 +$11,300
+27.2%
$ until FI* $783,300 $642,600 -$140,700
-18.0%

*$ to FI=(average monthly spending over the last 12 months – mortgage payment)*12*25 + condo value – net worth

Cash is probably up because I’ve been underspending my budget so far this year. Savings is only up a small bit because I have been spending more from my HSA than I put into it so far this year, I spent from my savings account while frontloading my retirement accounts, and I used some money from my general savings account to fund my Roth IRA for 2016. Investments are the real story here since that was what I was concentrating on in the first third of 2016.

I am still investigating it, but if I plan to retire in my thirties or early forties, I’m not sure the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA is that useful considering that assuming 8% returns and a rate of inflation of 3.22%, I already have enough in my Roth IRA and 401(k) to support me at my current lifestyle after age 60. Not all employers offer it, so I’ve also debated using it while I can. I still have some time to decide as it would take me 3-4ish paychecks (about 2 months) to finish it. I’ll make the decision by October.

My savings goal for the remainder of the year is to build up my liquid funds (general savings account, ESPP funds, Series I Savings Bonds, NetSpend accounts, and taxable index funds) to two years of expenses which with the amount the mortgage would be reamortized to in early 2018 equates to about $90,000. As of April, those accounts add up to $65,400, which is a $3,900 improvement over December 2015. I estimate that it will take me most of this year to save up that amount, at which point my current plan is to go back to pre-paying the mortgage.

Expenses: I spent $6,149 in April including the mortgage or $5,122 without it, with no charitable donations this month. That breaks down to:

  • $3,609 in fixed/unavoidable expenses: HOA dues, mortgage payment, property taxes, medical bills, and transportation
  • $2,778 in discretionary expenses: clothing, entertainment, food, eyebrows, toiletries, vision, fitness, shopping, and travel

Some of my controllable expenses broke down as follows:

  • $1,310 Clothing [$1,875 total so far this year; $1,760 at this point last year] – cute belt ($31), hiking pants ($93), one summer dress ($50), spring jacket ($201), wind breaker ($109 – I’m kind of torn on this one, so if I don’t wear it at all in May, I’ll return it), sandals ($88), sleep top ($49), one t-shirt ($16), two long-sleeved tops ($129), and clothes mailed for return ($545)
  • $31 Entertainment/Social [average so far this year: $48, average last year: $116] – LastPass, using some cash from last month for something else, and a little bit of eating out with friends
  • $105 Food [average so far this year: $87, average last year: $51] – this covers all discretionary food. I have still been lazy with taking my lunch to work.
  • $0 Cell phone – got a rebate that should cover my Cricket cell phone bill for March and April and all but $5 in May
  • Half of my annual property taxes
  • $239 Health – yay for high-deductible plans…
  • $360 Vision – a second pair of glasses feels like such a luxury!
  • $20 Eyebrows
  • $112 Make-up – time to stock up
  • $8 Toiletries [average so far this year: $39, average last year: $48] – allergy medicine
  • $338 Recreation: my running shoes that I love were discontinued in favor of a new version that doesn’t fit me, so I bought three pairs discounted on Amazon. I also bought a running armband, a few barre classes, and sticky socks.
  • $24 Shopping: bought a sun hat and used a $25 gift card
  • $169 Transportation: tolls replenishment (x4) and two tanks of gas
  • $471 Travel: booked a long weekend trip!

In total, I’ve spent $14,219 after education and charitable expenses and my budget was for $48,000, so I’m on track to underspend my budget by about $5,000 at this point. We haven’t booked our fall trip yet but since I hit the deductible on my health insurance plan this month, that spending will reduce significantly. April is always one of my more expensive months because of the property tax payment.

Readers, how was your money in April?