Happy New Year!
December was a great month. I had plans every weekend and enjoyed spending so much time with friends and family. The first weekend, I did glass blowing and we made Christmas ornaments. It was something I’d always wanted to try and it didn’t disappoint. The instructor did a great job of explaining how and why things are done. And I have a beautiful ornament to show for it!
The second weekend was Christmas tea service with three of my friends. We consider this our gift to each other, rather than the exchange of physical presents. This was our third year and it’s a tradition we plan to continue.
The third weekend was brunch for a friend’s 40th birthday. She was out of town for work on the day of her birthday so we got together over the weekend. It was also the day where the temperature was -20 degrees (with a wind chill of -30). To make the most of being out, I saw a movie afterwards with one of the friends who was there. As a side note, Office Christmas Party was hilarious, if you’re into the raunchy comedies.
I’ve been enjoying my time off from work. Outside of Christmas and New Years, I’ve mainly been trying to get things done around the house. Feels good to finally check some things off my to do list, including dropping things off at both Goodwill and our county recycling center. There really is nothing better than purging the items you no longer need. My house is looking pretty good 🙂
To prevent this post from getting too long, I decided to write separate posts for December expenses and my 2016 total expenses. The annual expenses post will be published next week.
So how did my busy December shake out?
On to the numbers…
Financial independence is really important to me and it’s currently my main financial goal. Like I mentioned in my August post, I’ve decided to increase my budget to allow for monthly spending of $1,667. This is still very reasonable, coming in at $20,000/year.
I’m sharing my monthly expenses to illustrate that it’s not difficult to have a great life while spending far less than the household average. I’m fully aware that I’m able to do this because my mortgage is paid off and I don’t have a car loan or credit card debt. It was a long journey to get here and now I’m reaping the benefits.
Although I use Mint and Personal Capital to keep an eye on all my accounts, I use Excel to track my expenses. I’ve found that this works best for me, since I can easily compare months and see a running total for the year for each category.
I’ll post my total spending in specific categories within the next week. In the meantime, if you have questions regarding how much I spend on groceries, my cell phone, etc., feel free to drop a note in the comments and I’ll happily provide those details.
Here are my December expenses:
I spent $448 on fixed costs (e.g. association fee, utilities, insurance, etc.). No surprises here. It was exactly what I was expecting, as fixed costs tend to be. My big annual expenses are all in the first 5 months of the year so the back half is relatively quiet.
I spent $1,970 on variable costs (e.g. food, gas, house supplies, gifts/donations, etc.). Yep, this is way more than I would normally spend but includes the glass blowing ($48), tea service ($51), and all the other restaurant meals with friends this month. There were a few big items driving this total, though: A couple of donations to Donors Choose to support various classroom projects, renewing my Consumer Reports subscription for 5 years, the purchase of a small air compressor so I can fill my car’s tires in my garage (instead of a gas station), a small TV and Roku stick, and – the big one – a new cell phone.
A new cell phone was the big purchase I’d been debating when I wrote my November expenses post. Because I use Virgin Mobile, I paid for my phone outright, to the tune of $590. I’d had my other phone for just over 3 years and, since it was an iPhone 5, storage became an issue. 16GB isn’t enough, especially when the operating system takes up 4GB. I upgraded to an iPhone 7 and my parents are now using my old phone, which was a big upgrade from their super cheap Android. Win-win for everyone 🙂
Total spending for the month was $2,418. This year I’ve spent $21,299, with an average of $1,775/month, which has slightly exceeded my goal of monthly spending of $1,667 or less.
Coming up in my next post: I’ll share my 2016 total expenses, along with a comparison to 2015 and my thoughts regarding how the money was spent. I’ll also share my goals for 2017.
How did your December go? Any challenges?