Expenses · Finance

January 2017 Expenses

Where did January go? It’s hard to believe that tomorrow will be February already.

I started the month by celebrating New Year’s day with brunch at a friend’s house and ended the month with a brunch to celebrate another friend’s engagement. We sure do love brunch 🙂 The rest of the month was fairly mundane, filled with work and errands.

Since I don’t plan to spend any money today, I thought I’d get ahead and post my January expenses today, rather than waiting another week. Without further ado, here’s how January panned out.

*Just a reminder that I don’t use affiliate links (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I’ve only included the links in case you’re curious about the specific items I reference.

Financial independence is really important to me and it’s currently my main financial goal. I’m trying to keep my monthly spending to $1,667. This is 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.

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. You can also check out my 2016 total spending by category here.

Here are my January expenses:

I spent $507 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. This spring I’ll be paying my property taxes and condo insurance, both for the entire year. Until then, my fixed costs are nothing out of the ordinary.

I spent $1,241 on variable costs (e.g. food, gas, house supplies, gifts/donations, etc.). There were a few large expenses this month: my cat’s annual check up at the vet ($152), car maintenance ($291), the purchase of a new printer and supplies ($105) – which was on sale at the time, and an air purifier ($113). I also stocked up on coffee ($55), which should last about 5 months and is purchased with a discount through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program.

Best news this month? My cat, Moe, got a clean bill of health at his vet visit and only needs to go in for annual exams here on out, unless he’s showing symptoms of his glucose being off. This is a huge change from the many glucose checks he had during 2016 and we’re both looking forward to a much longer stretch of time between vet visits.

Total spending for the month was $1,748.  which has slightly exceeded my goal of monthly spending of $1,667 or less. No surprise given all the extra expenses over $100 this month, but not bad with all things considered.

How did your January go? Any challenges?

Expenses · Finance

2016 Total Expenses

Hi Everyone!

Hope your January is going well. Thought I’d share my total expenses for 2016 for anyone who is interested.

Let me preface by saying that the total came in higher than I expected. It’s a good reminder that you can only plan so much and a savings account is invaluable. No credit card interest for this girl!

In total, my 2016 expenses were $21,299.03.

Without further ado, here are my 2016 expenses by category:

Fixed Expenses = $6,613.08 (vs $6,197.67 in 2015)

This is up slightly over last year, mainly due to the cost of internet. Sadly, this cost will be my most expensive utility in 2017, estimated to be $840. Ouch. This is what happens when there is only one option for broadband, even though I live mere miles from downtown Minneapolis.

As for the other expenses: I have a townhouse so my monthly association fee includes lawn, snow removal, garbage, and insurance. The homeowners insurance I pay is condo insurance. Since I don’t really have property, my property tax is relatively low, considering Minnesota is a higher tax state. The taxes owed are from filing my 2015 tax returns; I purposely set my withholding so that I’d pay in, rather than receive a refund.

My house is heated with natural gas, and my water heater uses gas as well. The city I live in started imposing a $7 “city fee” for both gas and electric bills in 2016 so these are both higher than last year and that trend will continue. Since I don’t have a lawn to water, my water expense is quite cheap. I canceled my landline earlier in the year so this will be $0 for 2017. I use Virgin Mobile for my cell phone, which is only $33/month for unlimited everything. I realize that my car insurance seems high, but I have great coverage and I’m happy with the company so I’m not going to mess with it just to save a few dollars.

Variable Expense = $14,685.95 (vs $11,473.44 in 2015)

Most of my variable expenses are quite boring so I won’t bother to talk about gas, groceries, etc. Instead I’ll focus on the big items.

Pet expenses came in about $3,000 more than I expected. It started in January when my cat, Moe, was diagnosed as diabetic. That lead to glucose checks (at $32.50 each), insulin, syringes, and prescription food. Poor guy went in for a dental cleaning in August and ended up having teeth pulled (to the tune of almost $2,000). In October, the focus switched to my other cat, Rocky. Unknown to me, he was suffering from kidney failure and we ended up euthanizing him because it was so advanced by the time he started showing symptoms. While I’ll still be caring for my diabetic cat during 2017, I’m hoping that there aren’t any additional health problems. We’ve both been through enough to last us years. The emotional toll has been far greater than the financial.

The electronics I purchased this year include a Doxie scanner, an SSD for my laptop, new cell phone and a small TV and Roku stick for a spare bedroom. The scanner has made it possible to get rid of a majority of the paper in my house, although I still have a lot of files left to scan. The SSD has made my 4-year old laptop much faster and easier to use. The last two were indulgences for sure, so I won’t even try to justify those.

My medical costs are paid for out of my HSA but I include them in my expenses so I can monitor just how much it is each year. It includes prescriptions for chronic health problems, my annual lab costs for blood tests, and eye exams.

Although I no longer exchange birthday or Christmas gifts with friends or family, I did buy a new laptop for my parents (as they were using my old one, which was more than 10 years old), as well as some small gifts for friends since we’re all turning 40. A milestone birthday deserves a little something. The only gifts I give every year are to my friend’s two kids — I put money into the custodial brokerage accounts I created for them for birthdays and Christmas. This will continue until they are at least 18 (they are currently 3 and 5).

Admittedly, the donations category is lower than I’d like it to be. I’d definitely like to bump up how much I give going forward.

Other Observations

Because my mortgage is paid off and I live in a small townhouse, it only cost $4,804.16 ($400.35/month) to live in my house during 2016. Sadly, I’ve spent well over $200k on my house in the 15 years I’ve lived here, but the average cost per month and year will decline each additional year I live here.

Without the cats, my annual expenses would have been $16,930. I find value in having pets so this expense is worth it to me and I can easily afford it. If you’re thinking about adopting a pet, make sure that you are aware of all the possible expenses beforehand.

Plans for 2017

Looking ahead, I have two goals:

  1. Make sure that I’m saving enough to cover some major house expenses coming up
  2. Focus less on stashing as much money as I can into investments and instead set a savings goal for the year.

Regarding the first item, there are a few expenses likely in 2017 that I want to be prepared for. My fridge is almost 15 years old and I wouldn’t be surprised if it went out any day now. Since my cat’s insulin needs to be refrigerated, I’d rather replace it before it dies so I’ll likely do that this spring. Another appliance that I’m thinking about replacing is my washer/dryer. The dryer is fine, but I have an HE front loader and I hate it. The set is 10 years old so I’m debating replacing this in the spring. Since my house requires a stacked unit, the dryer will have to go as well. The last item is my water heater. It’s almost 9 years old so it’s possible this could also go out any day. So, I need to make sure I have enough in savings to cover all 3 of these being replaced, which would be around $4,000.

For the second item, I’d like to be a little less stringent regarding how much I save and spend. My mentality over the last two years has been to spend as little as I can while saving as much as I can. Instead, I’d like to set savings goals for the year and enjoy the rest of my money. My hope is that I’ll focus less on my finances if I loosen the reins a little. The important thing is to hit the savings goals, and let go of the small stuff.

How was your 2016? Any big goals for 2017?

Expenses · Finance

December 2016 Expenses

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 Partywas 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?

Expenses · Finance

November 2016 Expenses

Happy December Everyone!

How’s your month going so far? Mine is still crazy busy, as I continued to do both jobs for the first 2 weeks of the month. Things are finally getting better and I’m now officially down to just one job! The new job is going great and I’ll even be able to take the last week of December off. Well deserved, if I say so myself.

December also brings with it many social events and I love seeing everyone. I’ll write more about this next month but  will say that so far December has not disappointed. Every weekend is booked, despite the cold and snow that suddenly hit us in Minnesota. There’s no doubt that winter has finally arrived, after an especially mild fall.

Tomorrow marks 2 months since my cat, Rocky, passed away. My other cat, Moe, has taken to being an only cat very well. Rocky demanded a lot of my attention over his 11 years so Moe is enjoying all that attention being directed at him instead. We’ll go to the vet in early January for his annual exam so hopefully all is well and 2017 is a much easier year for both of us.

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.

In early 2017 I’ll post my total spending in specific categories. 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 November expenses:

I spent $450 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’m currently reviewing my accounts and budget to ensure these will be easily covered for 2017.

I spent $786 on variable costs (e.g. food, gas, house supplies, gifts/donations, etc.). Finally – a return to normal. I had to get insulin for my cat and bring him in for a glucose check, which was less than $100 total. I also bought an SSD for my laptop during Black Friday. Other expenses included a few gifts for loved ones and a donation to Minnesota Public Radio. The Current is my favorite radio station and I’m happy to support them.

Total spending for the month was $1,236. So far this year I’ve spent $18,881, with an average of $1,716/month, which has slightly exceeded my goal of monthly spending of $1,667 or less. I’m counting this month as a win – close enough!

Coming up in next month’s post: Just how much do those social events and outings cost? I’m planning a big purchase for later this month, so I’ll talk about what that is and why. I’ll also share my 2016 total spending by category. Any guesses as to which was the highest?

How did your November go? Any challenges?

Expenses · Finance

October 2015 Financials

Financial independence is really important to me and it’s my main financial goal.  Part of that includes tracking my expenses and investments to make sure I’m on track in meeting that goal. For the option to retire by the time I’m 50 (11 years from now), I’m aiming to save 70-75% of my take home pay to ensure a large enough cushion to live comfortably in retirement.  To maintain some privacy, I’m going to list these in percentages, rather than dollar amounts.

Fixed Expenses: These costs include my association fees, phone, internet, gas, electricity, water, etc. For October, fixed expenses equated to 11% of my take home pay.

Variable Expenses:  Somewhat easier to control month to month, this includes gasoline, groceries, home supplies, clothing, restaurants, entertainment, etc.  For October, these made up 22% of my take home pay. A little high this month because I bought a new tablet to replace my current tablet, which was more than 4 years old.

Investments: This includes any money transferred to savings accounts, Roth IRA, brokerage accounts, and my 401k.  This makes up the remaining 67% of my take home pay. My employer has a 401k match, which I’ve excluded from this percentage.

How was your October?  Any challenges?