Well, first of all, I learned that apparently I can get sidetracked late in the month and fail to note some expenses. Oops.
According to my Excel sheet, I spent $1108.52 (including a $212.69 repair bill that went on the credit card). According to my weekly spending diaries, I spent closer to $1500 (including a second $240ish repair bill). And of course the spending diaries only cover 28 days, whereas this financial month — thanks to my paycheck arriving late — was closer to 33 days.
Based on how much was left in the account at the end of the month, I’d estimate that I spent about $1,250 to cover all of my daily and monthly expenses, not including the repair bills or my health insurance.
That means my overall expenses for the month were about $2,900: $1,250ish for day-to-day stuff, $375 for health insurance, $313 for electricity/life insurance/gas bill/HVAC maintenance plan, $515.97 for my mortgage (yes, it’s insanely low) and $450ish for repairs.
That number actually makes me feel secure (especially since it’s significantly lower than last month’s $3,500ish).
While $2,800 is still a little higher than I’d like, it’s low enough to work for me in retirement. I’m hoping to live on $40,000 – $45,000 a year once I retire, so I need to make sure my expenses aren’t too high now. Since repairs and other surprises will inevitably come along, I need to make sure that, once I’m on a fixed income, I can live on less than $40,000 a year so that I can put away money toward said surprises.
Of course, I need to account for inflation, so I’d love to shave a few bucks off the ole spending. But I remind myself that $450 of irregular expenses were included in that $2,800. And that I’ll pay around $300 less a month once my mortgage is taken care of, which will happen before I retire.
So $40,000-$45,000 should be doable even with inflation.
But anyway, let’s review how I did, shall we?
I’m spending too much here. It was $155 this month. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but normally I’d also have had to pay for protein bars (about $80), which means my spending this month should’ve been $230. That’s waaaaay too much for a single person. I was a little liberal with the junk food this month. So for both my budget and waistline’s sake, I need to stick to my diet more. Especially with FinCon coming up. Gotta get svelte!
Another fail. This came in just under $120. Granted, more than a third of that is the bill that included a friend’s meal and drink ($46 for the two of us). That’s not common.
Another $29 was food for trivia nights, which isn’t bad at all.
This means that my “real” eating out was getting takeout five times for about $45. That’s more often than I should eat out, but it’s not too bad. At least since I’m still trying to figure out a good balance of the takeout I so enjoy and the saving money that I so love.
Overall, I want this bill to be under $75, but we’ll see whether that’s feasible or not.
Yet another bad category this month. I spent $100! Eek!
Of that, $40 was for makeup, which won’t be a monthly expense. I’m set for at least five months, probably closer to nine, for most items.
I had a realization about this category, though. It’ll always be a bit higher than I like, though, because I have my $40 monthly beauty service, which I’m not willing to give up, and every six weeks I get my hair cut and colored for $50. So even without makeup purchases, the bill will be at or close to $100 at least every other month. Sigh. Vanity, thy name is a dollar sign.
This category wasn’t great, but it wasn’t too bad at just over $76. If you prefer to count the trivia eating out spending in this category, I’m still at just over $105. Considering I’ve been going out two to three times a week, that’s a pretty good bang for my buck.
Most of the expense was Ubering to/from dates, which should decrease here now that I’m through with a lot of first dates. Most of the second dates don’t include alcohol, meaning I can drive myself there. The one second date that did include alcohol, the guy drove. (He also insisted on opening the car door for me, which was adorable.)
Not bad at just over $63 (two fill-ups). I’m fueling up about half as much as I did with Tim around, but I’d love to shoot for making a tank last three weeks instead of two.
With two $25 therapy co-pays, some medications, a pair of reading glasses (so. old.) and my GoodRX Gold membership, I came in at just under $104 from general spending. Not bad overall. Note that this doesn’t include my health insurance ($375), since that doesn’t come from day-to-day spending.
This is the category for drugstore items: lotion, allergy meds, floss, etc. This month it came in at a little under $38. That seems high to me for general purposes, but it’s fine this time because most of the money was for a three-month supply of Claritin. So spending should be a little lower for the next two months.
This is my catch-all line item for stuff that doesn’t fit in any of the above categories. It was a little over $233. Ouch.
But the two Banfield plans ($70.90 total) and my Ting cell phone bill ($31.74) were a good chunk of that. Most of the rest was small stuff, like a replacement brush for the Roomba, my AMC Stubs membership, a month’s membership to eForms (to get a lease for the guest house tenant), etc.
So what did I learn?
Well, first of all I learned that I need to be more careful about logging my expenses. To be fair, it gets awfully confusing, since I’m dealing with each expense three times: noting it in my spending diary, entering it into an Excel sheet and transferring money from primary to secondary checking. It gets all too easy to miss a step.
I’ve also learned that my grocery bill is far higher than I was estimating. And that I go to the store too often. My goal for next month is to go to the store just once a week. That should help with the spending. Then it’s a matter of stopping eating so much junk food, which isn’t helping the grocery bill.
In addition, the last two months have taught me that takeout is probably just a fact of my life and I should make peace with that, rather than wrestle with it. The fact is that I can afford takeout once a week.
So the plan is to keep takeout down to four times a month. Hopefully, at some point I can make it three times a month, but I’m going to do baby steps here. And hope that giving myself permission to enjoy the takeout once a week will lessen my guilt/stress about the money spent.
Another lesson: I spend more on beauty products/services than I realized. So far, nothing that I feel is worth cutting (based on the value these products/services bring), but it’s good to be more aware of my vanity spending.
I don’t think I can keep up logging every expense indefinitely. It starts to be a lot of work since, as I said, I’m essentially logging each one in triplicate at this point. So I probably won’t keep up tracking every dollar spent for too many more months. But I would like to do it at least one more period until I get a better sense of what I spend in a normal financial month.
Did you learn anything from your past month’s spending?